Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ireland, Part VII: Cashel, Kilkenny, and Kildare

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We discovered that it wasn’t out of line to visit the major tourist site of Cashel and the town of Kilkenny, which just sounded cool, on our way to our next B&B in Kildare, so we decided on visiting these two places.

The Rock of Cashel is a hill in the town of Cashel which is topped with the ruins of a cathedral and chapel, as well as some other ruins and a graveyard. It was inundated with tourists in very small spaces, but really worth seeing, particulary the chapel, named for King Cormac. It has a lot of interesting details which are completely different from what we’ve seen in other places. There are also nice views from the hill over the surrounding countryside, including the ruins of Hore Abbey, which lies in a field below the hill. We walked down a muddy path to the abbey, where there are nice views back up to the ruins on the hill, and lots of cool snails on the rocks!! (Actual snails, not carvings.)

Cashel, Kilkenny, & Kildare Aug 08

We were hankering for lunch afterwards, but worried about the prices in touristy Cashel, so we continued down the road and ended up in a total greasy spoon place in a town called Littleton. It was nice and cheap – we had lunch and tea for less than 10 EUR – and busy with all kinds of customers. One interesting character was a man in probably his 60s with a big heart/ribbon tattoo on his arm in memory of Joe, Mum, and Dad. He slowly made his way through a giant pile of meat and potatoes, occasionally chatting with waitresses.

Next we stopped in Kilkenny, as we just remembered it sounding cool from some reading somewhere. Actually, one of the coolest things was a particular Abbey which we thought was near Kilkenny, but which is actually pretty far south of there. We didn’t make it down there. Kilkenny didn’t feel as friendly as the places we’d been before. Despite a population of only 9,000, it actually felt somewhat cosmopolitan, somehow - maybe just based on the feeling and attitude in the streets. A German town of 9,000 wouldn’t have a thing in it, but Kilkenny was a very busy place! It also was a bit stinky, thanks to a Diageo brewery right in the heart of town. The traffic was terrible, but we found a parking garage and got rid of the car so we could really get around.

We stopped by St. Canice’s Cathedral, only to discover there was an entry fee of 4 EUR. We weren’t sure whether to go in, but since we hadn’t seen many cathedrals on this trip, we decided to go for it. It was very nice – see the photos – but in the end, maybe should have been a bit cheaper. There isn’t anything special enough to warrant 4 EUR, when you consider that most churches are free to visit! We made sure to get a lot of photos to get our money’s worth, though. J After the cathedral, we wandered around town a bit, then headed off to Kildare to find our next B&B.

I was really proud that we found our rural B&B with only a map and road signs, not needing the more roundabout directions provided online and not needing to call in for help. But when we arrived, the proprietor really blew us off and I thought maybe we’d broken some big rule of B&B etiquette by not calling before showing up. We hadn’t called at the first one and it wasn’t a problem, and we only called the 2nd and 3rd ones because we couldn’t find them. When we made the reservation we had to specify arrival time, so that was done. In any case, we had much warmer welcomes everywhere else we’d gone. I really don’t know anything about B&B etiquette but I guess I’d better look into it. For the course of our short stay there, she was without question on much better terms with the other guests, and we still don’t have any idea what we might have done wrong (and immediately upon getting there). Of course that didn’t stop us from second-guessing it for hours with ever more irrational ideas. (“Was it my hair!??!” etc)

We went into Kildare to find something for dinner and look around. St. Brigid’s Cathedral was already closed for the day, so we could only look at it through the gate. There weren’t too many eating options around. We chose the one that looked cheapest. It was pretty busy, but again not as friendly as places we’d been before. Maybe it’s just a regional thing. The bar wasn’t that great. On TVs all over the room, it was showing ads for itself. Lame! We ended up back in our room early to get all our junk sorted for the flight the next day.

2 comments:

  1. I really loved the Rock of Cashel! Yes it was touristy, but cool nonetheless!

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  2. Snooker: I agree, especially the chapel!

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