Justin Timberlake shows off his Celtic tattoo

Justin Timberlake and his celtic tattoo
Justin Timberlake and his celtic tattoo

There is hidden art at the heart of the Rock of Cashel. If you haven’t seen it, look again

Standing on Tipperary’s most famous hill, with the former seat of Munster’s high kings behind you and the vast forever-green spread of the Golden Vale in front, there’s one person who doesn’t spring to mind… Justin Timberlake.

The fact is, though, that the Celtic cross that adorns Timberlake’s left shoulder has its roots in places like this.

In the ancient. In the Rock of Cashel.

Celtic symbolism

Whether or not this link to the Rock is intentional, we don't know. But the Rock has given the world some of the most symbolic images of Christian Ireland. And that’s no surprise when you consider that this grouping of medieval buildings in the heart of County Tipperary is the most visited heritage site in Ireland.

One of its most spectacular features is the 12th-century round tower, to the east of which sits a stone cross. Dappled with yellow and flecks of white, this sign of Celtic Ireland is a stoic, back-breaking load.

21st-century homage

It’s the kind of modest creation that now swings from necks, gets tattooed onto arms, curls around wrists and is slipped on fingers when the question is popped.

The intimidating pile of the Rock of Cashel isn’t exactly the type of place you’d associate with creative inspiration. For jewellery designer Vincent Byrne, though, it’s just that:   

“The High Crosses you’ll find at the Rock of Cashel have become iconic designs in jewellery and now actually, they’re one of the most popular pendants in the world. Some experts believe Saint Patrick created this form of cross.

“The idea is that he took the traditional Christian cross and combined it with the Sun Cross in an attempt to convert pagans to Christianity. Still, I reckon that’s ambiguous at best...”

Maybe Justin Timberlake knows the real story?