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Post Info TOPIC: May 2009 part 4 - Cashel and Kinsale


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May 2009 part 4 - Cashel and Kinsale


PART FOUR

THURSDAY, 21 May 2009 - Kilkenny to Cashel
We left for Cashel this morning. I had hoped to stay at Joy's Rock House, but Joan did not have 2 nights open. She kindly helped us find a place, and we settled on Wattie's B&B down the street. I am always so glad to get the car parked when we come into a new town! Maria asked for a little more time to prepare our rooms, so we walked over to the Tourism Centre which is also a Heritage Centre. They have a very informative display there on the history of the area, and of course, a nice little shop, too. Stopped into the Kearney Castle Hotel across the street for tea. Back at the B&B, we moved our things in and grabbed our cameras. We wanted to take advantage of a nice bit of weather, so we headed up to the Rock and took photos until it was time for the tour. It was quite windy (but DRY!) and the guide gave a great presentation. I've been there before, but I think more of the information sunk in this time. Maybe I was too awe-struck by the place on my first visit.

We went to a restaurant I remembered over on Ladyswell Street: An Caislean. The décor had changed, but I'm sure it was the same place. We ordered Guinness and waited for the chef to arrive. It was worth the wait. I have no idea what anyone else had, but I ordered the "fish of the day" and it was fantastic. My dinner actually included both hake and salmon - perfectly prepared. After dinner, we walked through town and down John Street, stopping to see the Hackett effigies in a section of the old city wall near the Bolton Library, and then by St. John the Baptist Church. We found that a side gate to St. Dominic's Friary allowed access, so we stopped in there before going home.

FRIDAY, 22 May 2009
It turned out that the Canadian couple we talked to at the restaurant last night was staying at our B&B, and we chatted with them over breakfast. Maria volunteered to give us some suggestions for what to see in the area, so I brought my maps down. She laid out a pretty ambitious day for us, which I knew we would never complete (no ambition!), but I appreciated her help. Our first stop was Cahir Castle. We took the guided tour and then spent a loooong time visiting the various exhibits and climbing all over the place taking photos. It took 30 minutes just to get everyone rounded back up, so Maria's plan was blown on our very first stop. At the Swiss Cottage, our timing was not good and we had to wait 20 minutes for the next tour, which is the only way to see the inside. The sun was out and it's a pretty spot, so we stayed. Roger let them know they were missing an opportunity by not serving tea there. As we were leaving town, we did find a parking place and a nice looking pub where we stopped for tea. Then we were off in search of Athassel Priory.

Brian had started calling us "The Ruin-ators" and I couldn't convince him to take in the scenic "Glen of Aherlow" drive that Maria recommended. When we arrived in Golden, the sign for Athassel Priory had been moved to point in the wrong direction, but we persevered, asked for help, and found our ruin. Brian and I used the stone stile to enter the field, which immediately attracted the attention of the cattle, which began moving in our direction. There is a little walkway over a swampy area leading into the ruins of a gatehouse, which does include a gate. We got there and shut the gate behind us as the cattle closed in. As we turned toward the ruin, I noticed that more from the same herd were coming around to our side of the gate from a higher position - a pincer maneuver that blocked the path behind us. There is another fence which keeps them out of the ruins, but I did wonder what would happen when we were ready to leave. And what a racket they made! When we came in site of cattle on the other side of the river, the same bawling sound started up over there. What were they trying to tell us? If they had been dairy cows, I would have had a guess, but they were not. The ruins cover a large area and include some very high walls. It must have been an imposing monastery when it was built. We wandered around taking photos for quite a while. It is so nice NOT to have to worry about film anymore! When it came time to leave, I let Brian lead. He clapped his hands and waved the cattle out of the way. When you are close enough to realize just how big they are and you see that sort of wild look come into their eyes, it is a bit unsettling, but they all moved away and let us pass. Karen said they had all come over to see her at the stone wall near the road but then returned to the gatehouse to wait for us.

Back in Cashel, Karen & Brian went off to visit the Hore Abbey ruins (which is worth visiting, but I had been there before) and Roger & I walked down by the Bru Boru Heritage Centre. It does not open until mid-June and closes in mid-September, but he wanted to see the Brian Boru statue I had photographed on my last visit. There was construction going on and the poor guy had been uprooted, but a workman let us inside the fence and we took a couple of photos. Quite a change from the pastoral shot Roger has been using as "wallpaper" on his PC. I hope the new location will restore Mr. Boru's view. We walked up by the Rock and down to the other end of town. We were meeting at The Brian Boru pub (he's everywhere!) on Main Street for dinner, so we settled in with a Guinness while we waited, and looked over the menu. Pizza sounded really good and we decided to order one as an appetizer for the four of us. Karen & Brian showed up just in time to stop us from making a meal of it. It was very, very good. I ordered a smoked salmon salad as my main dish and it came with wonderful brown bread. Great service, too.

At 10 PM it was finally dark, and we walked up toward the Rock from our B&B to take a few photos. Very pleasant temperature and a nice quiet night to enjoy the view. Back on the road tomorrow!

SATURDAY, 23 May 2009 - Cashel to Kinsale
I had researched places all along the southern coast, from Hook Head to Youghal, and had a number of suggestions on places to stay and things to see. Brian & Karen wanted to go to Kinsale, which I had not expected, and so we did. When we left Cashel, we drove up to Holy Cross Abbey near Thurles before picking up the N8 south. It is a beautiful church inside, worth making the detour for and apparently quite popular for weddings, but rain made exploring outside unappealing. Had our first "cows crossing the road" encounter as we left town. The udders were really swinging as the farmer moved them along. We stopped for tea and coffee at the Rathcormac Inn, just off of the N8. By the time we arrived in Kinsale the sun was shining. I had been lucky to get us into Woodlands House (which Michele recommended) on short notice. We were welcomed by Valerie with cookies and tea. It is a beautiful place (of course! It is recommended by Michele!), and our room in the front of the house was spacious and had a view of the harbor. Michele warned me that she doesn't recommend visiting Kinsale on the weekend, and I can understand why. The traffic in and out clogs the streets. We found a parking lot for the car and covered the town on foot. Many (most?) of the shops close early on Saturday and are not open at all on Sunday, so Karen and I did what we could to see the inside of each one while we had the chance. In addition to the usual sorts of things, we found a nice jewelry store, Kinsale Silver, where we spent some time (and more than a few euros). We walked down by the water and visited the Tourism Office. We found our way to Jim Edwards and relaxed with a pint before ordering dinner. We were in the dining room but were allowed to order from the bar menu. Salmon sounded good and tasted wonderful. They did not charge us extra for brown bread, either. Lovely place!

We strolled through the town after dinner. Although it was quite warm, a few homes had fires going (not peat), and Roger had a reaction to the smoke in the air. That brought an early end to our evening, and we hurried back to the B&B.

SUNDAY, 24 May 2009 - Kinsale
Breakfast was wonderful and we set out for Charles Fort. The talk given is worth waiting for, and an interesting history lesson. Just as we did at Cahir Castle, we all took off in different directions. The sun was shining and the sailboats were out. There was a small group of little boats in the harbor, obviously having a lesson. It was wonderful to walk along the walls of the fort, looking out at the views of the water and of Kinsale. There are interesting exhibits there also, and I enjoyed the place so much I never even went inside the gift shop. I was wearing my rain hat because of the wind, but later realized that it did not shade my face enough to prevent a sunburned nose.

Eventually we got back in the car and returned to town. After a visit to the "Desmond Castle & International Museum of Wine" we took a stroll down along the bay. Every other person on the street was enjoying an ice cream cone, and I finally insisted on having one. Eventually it was time for our dinner - early by Irish standards - and we returned to Jim Edwards for another great meal. Afterward, we had still had plenty of daylight, so we drove out toward Timoleague and its Friary. Pleasant drive, and more ruins for the Ruin-ators.

Tomorrow we will take the highway north - destination: Trim.



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Marsha


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Marsha,

How was Wattie's? It looks very basic on their website. Would you stay there again? I'm sure you walked right by Joy's (the pink house) when you went to the Rock.

I'm glad you enjoyed Woodlands and Jim Edwards. Both are excellent. Hope you told Valerie I recommended her place.What wonderful weather in Kinsale. Love the photo of the fort.

BTW, I am a sucker for ruins too.

Michele

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Michele,

I actually went to Joy's when we arrived in town, but unfortunately for us, they did not have 2 nights available. Joan was very nice and helped us find another place. If I had known our plans for sure, I would have booked ahead, but...

Watties was nice -- clean and comfortable. Our bathroom was a good size and looked as though it had just been done, very up-to-date. The wardrobe cabinet also seemed new and had a very convenient and practical design. I should have taken a photo of the inside arrangement of it! The room itself was comfortable but not large. I would not hesitate to stay there again, although I do hope to stay at Joy's if I get back to Cashel.

I did tell Valerie it was your recommendation that brought us to Woodlands. She said they do like to know how they are reaching people. I also noticed your book on the table when we were served our "welcome" tea and cookies smile.gif

One of my cousins looked at some of my photos -- lots of ruins -- and then looked at me with a puzzled look and said, "Do you really LIKE this stuff??" She couldn't comprehend it! I think her idea of a perfect vacation would be at a resort on a tropical beach. To each his own! Make mine IRELAND.

Marsha



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Marsha


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I stayed at Woodlands with my father in September 2008 and it was a wonderful accommodation. Great breakfasts, I remember well. Kinsale in general was a teriffic stop, though we too did it on the weekend and found it a bit overrun with people. But the town itself has such great character... kind of like an Irish version of Charleston, South Carolina.

Woodlands was a perfect recommendation from Michele. If you're planning a trip to Ireland and take every piece of advice Michele has to offer, you really cannot go wrong. That's what we did (except for avoiding Kinsale on weekends... couldn't schedule it any other way, unfortunately) and we had an amazing experience in Ireland.

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