Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Saturday, May 11th Kilkenny to Kinsale

Kikenny, Ireland

    A slow start in the morning at the hostel, as it should be following a long flight. We had breakfast in the full kitchen at the hostel before setting out to tour the town. Lydia and I were kicking ourselves for not capitalizing on the pub scene here on the weekend.
     I have never, ever, looked at wedding dresses before. Not ever in my life have I pictured myself in one, or wanted to try on one. However, I found the dress that I want. I barely resisted trying it on…mostly because I knew I would never be able to take it off ever again. I am not at all one of those girls who dreams and fantasizes about every detail of their wedding day before they even meet there mean. And here I am, certain that I would be the princess in a fairy tale  dream if I wore this dress. http://www.cameobridal.ie/item2.php?sec=collection&type=bridal&itemstem=verlaine&pagenum=2&img=1
You probably are not convinced, and I had just had a lot of tea that morning, so I could have been fantasizing a little delusional. If prince charming became available, I would be set. 
                We went and saw the Kilkenny castle. Not going in, simply meandering around the grounds around it.  There was a presentation (on a small projector with a few folding chairs set up around it. Basic but functional!) about the history of the place. I will spare you my usual inclusion of the history, mostly because I know I’ll mess up the dates. But suffice it to say, a castle that protected against invasions until Normandy came, knocking down the one side (only three stand now). It was also passed along to prominent families…including the Butlers.  Finally was donated to the group that handles all the historical monuments here (name will be forthcoming once I find where I jotted it down).
                Meandered through st. Mary’s here, a lovely church with faded frescos behind the alter that suggested a much older original version. Set up in a very Romanesque style (in the building and structure).

Rock of Cashel
                Absolutely worth stopping to see!! We waited out a brief, but ferocious rain storm before walking up the castle. We paid the small, but understandable fee to get in. They had moved the original sandstone Latin style cross that was outside to the history display room (used as a store room before).  A replica  stood in its place outside. It was very worn down, being made of such a soft stone and exposed to the elements. We went on a tour which was extremely helpful in knowing what we were looking at. I forgot what a massive influence St. Patrick was in the direction this entire country took. Castles often included serious churches because the church needed protected. So these chanting monks were also hard-core fighting warriors. The walls of the church at the Rock of Cashel had the arrow slit windows as well as corridors within the walls that led to the tower/place of safety for the archbishop and all that was of value.
                Our guide said it was abandoned and moved lower due to the harsh elements. We figured it was pretty chilly but when we stepped outside on this day in May (which, even in the unseasonably chilly weather, is still not nearly as cold and windy as it gets in the winter) we were buffeted around and tossed into doorways.  We huddled behind columns and inside medieval niches with their arches that meet in the middle, pointing to heaven, simply to get out of the wind.
                All surrounding the hill top, you could see the land of Ireland stretched out beneath your feet. Brilliant tactical maneuver and wonderful to see. The dairy/beef farms were divided up by the crumbling rock walls, some covered in tall branches and shrubbery, others built up with neatly stacked rocks. It turned the land into a beautiful network of properties that probably were shared among the families. Far off in the distance you could see the mountains raise and fall in their slopes. The one had a little chunk taken out of the top. One story goes that the devil was so furious with St. Patrick that we flew into the air and took off to the sea, and he took a bite out of the top of this mountain in his anger. But the mouthful became too heavy as he fled Ireland towards the ocean, and he spit it out..creating what is now rock of Cashel. Our history guide pointed out one small flaw in this story…that rock in the mountain was sandstone. And this, is made of limestone. The one chapel (small and extremely decorative, not like the larger roman style one) is made entirely of sandstone, and they brought each brick from the…sandstone query ..many miles away. (like, 20 mi). yikes. Serious dedication.
                After a brief and somewhat frantic search at a local computer/internet place (1euro for 20 min….2 euros later we still couldn’t find a place in Kinsale available) we decided to head out anyways.

Kilkenny to Kinsale
                Only one stop where we had no room, the next stop was a small Bed and Breakfast out in the country called the Sunrise B&B.  We were greeted at the door (like we are at every place) by a cheerful older woman, who showed us the room she had…a family room on the second floor that was all hardwood, and had lovely large windows that made the whole room light and airy feeling. At this point I was rather carsick and trying not to get worked up over the lack of rooms that seemed to be open for us to find a place to sleep. The rest of the family agreed and we bounced up the narrow staircase to our room with the windows that had a view of the rolling hills of the Irish countryside. Does not get much better J

(window view)

                Dinner was appropriately sea food since the town of Kinsale is by a harbor (picture something out of New England). And we went to a little pub called the Tap bar. Had a pint of Guinness (it was GRAND) and made friends. Found a couple honeymooning from Denver, Colorado that were fun to talk to. I usually avoid other Americans a bit while in other countries, but these two seemed well traveled and the adventuring kind.  Generally rule of thumb is that these kinds of people are pretty interesting to talk to! 

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