Cork to Kilkenny:  Our Trip Goes Medieval

It was another overcast day when we got up, but we had big plans!  Ok, unavoidable plans. Shopping.

We downed the suspect instant coffee provided in our room, and headed out.  And then found out that many shops are closed Mondays and Tuesdays, and the others don’t open until 10. That left us time to sit down for a leisurely breakfast. At 10 we hit the shops and did what we had to do, or most of what we had to do. And then back to the hotel to check out and head on to our next stop: Kilkenny.

This drive was less than 2 hours, or would have been if we didn’t get a little lost looking for gas. Words you don’t normally want to hear together, but we were fine. Really. We checked in to our beautiful hotel right in the heart of Kilkenny, and were so hungry we ate in the hotel restaurant before even going to our room.  Once again, the staff were incredibly good at handling allergies.  Ireland is amazing that way!  The shepherds pie was also the best I’ve ever had.  Best of all, it was smothered in cheese!

After that we headed straight over to the famous Kilkenny Castle, located a 3 minute walk away.  It’s an amazing castle in incredible shape. The castle was built at the start of the 13th century, and was sold to Kilkenny in 1967 for £50. Since then, they’ve had numerous restoration phases leaving this a wonderful example of medieval living. 

Not surprisingly, every room had a fireplace, or two, and there were staircases all over the place. All the rooms we saw had been beautifully restored. There were also quite a few worldly elements, including a Moorish staircase and two Chinese rooms.  But my favorite room was the long, tall and spacious Picture Gallery.

There was also a wonderful man working there who clearly loved what he was doing.  We ended up chatting with him about the deteriorating heraldic and genealogy linens, started in the 13th century and running through to the 17th century. He mentioned that every few years the Butler group meets to discuss, correct, argue and generally have a great time about the accuracy of the transcriptions. We also talked about the contents of the library, the trade offs between dry versus wet moats, the Sally ports, and many other features of the castle.

After touring the castle, Kevin and I went for a walk around the outside of the stone wall surrounding the incredibly large grounds. This place was certainly designed to be defended! I also noticed a sign that said the walkway was restored to its present condition in 1861.

Supper involved us wandering around Kilkenny, including their quirky version of Diagonal Alley.  Many restaurants were closed, and we didn’t like others, so we went back to the hotel restaurant. Again, their allergy awareness was fantastic, and the food was great.

We also noticed that people and culture here seem more natural than the other Irish locations we’ve been in. Yes, they cater to tourists, but here it seems that they offer their culture instead of offering what they think will make them the most money.  It’s hard to describe, but we both noticed.

That’s it for another great day in Ireland.

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Rick Madge

Here's my life in a nutshell. Husband to a beautiful wife Father of 3 amazing, grown-up children. Electrical Engineer (hey, it pays the bills and keeps my mind busy) Swim coach (this is where my passion lies) Attributes: Ridiculously curious. Introverted. Pretensions of creative abilities. Reader (books not minds. at least, not that you know). Athlete (reduced primarily to swimming and cycling now). Collector (of weird, old and interesting items). Writer (primarily of boring technical reports and overly long About You blurbs)

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