Ireland 2015: Day 4 – A Day in Kilkenny

Parliament Street, Kilkenny
Parliament Street, Kilkenny

I now understand why they tell you to dress in layers in Ireland.  You can go from enjoying a sunny day to a downpour in 10 minutes’ time!  This morning was a mix of sun and clouds (now I sound like a weatherman!), and I started my day with a hotel breakfast before heading to Kilkenny Castle.  I did some reading up on scrambled eggs because everywhere I’ve been in Europe, the eggs are very moist and gooey, not at all like what we’re used to in the U.S.  It turns out, while we normally make our eggs by mixing them with milk and then cooking until they are dry; here they put the milk and butter in the pan, add the eggs, and cook just until they’re set.  I’m not a fan.  Fortunately, croissants also seem to be staples of an Irish breakfast, so I’m not going hungry!  I met two nice couples from Virginia at breakfast this morning, who asked me to pull up a chair and discuss vacations with them.  They were just finishing a 12 day trip very similar to mine, but in reverse.  They were able to share some of their favorite places and experiences, and I took plenty of mental notes!

After breakfast, I walked the short block or two to Kilkenny Castle.  Unlike a lot of the castles here, this one has undergone significant restoration to bring it back to its former glory.  I am thankful I purchased a Heritage Card in Dublin, as it allows entry to many historical sights, including Kilkenny Castle.  I think it has already paid for itself!  After the castle, the skies clouded up and in came the rain.  It started as a few sprinkles and immediately turned into a drenching downpour.  I was on my way to St. Canice’s Cathedral at the time, and was glad I thought to bring my rain jacket with me this morning!  It turns out, St. Canice’s doesn’t open until the afternoon on Sunday, so I had some time to walk around before heading back.

I ended up at a small cafe where I was able to snag an outdoor table (under an awning, fortunately!) and enjoy an Irish scone with butter and jam.  While I didn’t have any trouble finishing it, it wasn’t nearly as good as the ones you get in England with clotted cream.  By the time I was finished with my snack, the rain had cleared, the sun was back out, and I headed back to St. Canice’s.

View from St. Canice's Round Tower, Kilkenny
View from St. Canice’s Round Tower, Kilkenny

There is a tall round tower next to the church which is one of only two in Ireland that you can climb.  I have no fear of heights, but I do have pretty significant claustrophobia.  I think the woman at the counter thought I was nuts asking about how many windows there were on the climb up and how narrow the stairwell was.  I was assured that it was reasonably well-lit with some small windows, so I paid for a ticket and headed up.  The tower is climbed by a series of 7 wooden ladders, each a little smaller than the one before.  The final steps are steep stone steps, and you emerge through a narrow opening onto the small platform.  The views were gorgeous!  You overlook the entire town of Kilkenny, plus the surrounding countryside and mountains in the distance.  After climbing back down, I spent a little time touring the church itself, then headed back to my hotel for a short nap and relaxation before dinner.

I had high hopes for Ristorante Rinuccini tonight, as it gets rave reviews.  I was somewhat disappointed.  The small space is very Italian, and the service was excellent.  However, my pasta dish wasn’t as good as I had hoped and the desserts didn’t interest me.  To make up for it, I walked across the bridge to Matt the Millers and enjoyed another pint of cider and live music.  This music was much more subdued than last night’s, but was still a good time.  I’m looking forward to heading to the coast tomorrow to enjoy a different side of Ireland!