Today started off gray and rainy. As in, pouring rain. Yesterday, I had seen a sign for the “Kilkenny-Cashel Scenic Drive”, and since Cashel was my first stop for the day, I decided to give it a try. Good thing the route was well-signed! Between the narrow roads, rain, fog, and oncoming cars, it was a bit of a white-knuckle drive! When I got to Cashel, my only planned stop was at the Rock of Cashel. The Rock of Cashel was the seat of the kings of Munster for several hundred years before being donated to the church in 1101 AD. In 1749 the roof was removed, and the ruins have been an attraction to visitors ever since. It was interesting to walk around inside the old cathedral with the rain coming down, but I was even more impressed by the cemetery outside, with its views of the surrounding countryside. In 1930, they made a register of those who would be able to be buried in the churchyard. Only those living could be recorded in the register (no would-be children or grandchildren). There are only 5 people left on the register to be buried, all in their 80s now. I’m sure a sunny day would have made for a better visit, but somehow the rain and clouds added to the atmosphere.
My stomach was growling by the time I left the Rock, and fortunately there was a bake shop in town where I feasted on another Irish scone (not as good as the ones in England, but I’m making do!). Before leaving Cashel, I made a stop at Hore Abbey, a ruined Cistercian monastery near the Rock of Cashel. It started to pour again about the time I got out of the car, but I was determined to make the trek through the field to the Abbey. I had the place to myself while I wandered around. What we consider history, even in New England, doesn’t hold a candle to these Irish ruins! You can wander through the original cathedral, stepping over and around tombstones, and imagine what it might have looked like once before.
Next up was Cahir Castle and the Swiss Cottage, both located in Cahir. Since history isn’t my thing, I watched the short video presentation but skipped out on the guided tour. The castle was impressive in that you could climb up into the towers and really explore the walkways and defenses. It was a short drive from the castle to Swiss Cottage, an “adult playground” about 2 km from the castle. The house was designed similar to Marie Antoinette’s Queen’s hamlet in Versailles (which I visited last year). Nothing matches, and that was intentionally done to “blend” with nature. The Butler family used the house only during the afternoons, then returned to their townhouse in the main village for dinner. The only meal served at the cottage was afternoon tea.
I jumped on the motorway from Cahir to my final destination for the day, Kinsale. Kinsale is a small village located on the waterfront south of Cork. I wish I had more time to explore the town, but I didn’t arrive until about 5:00, and it was still raining. I walked a little bit near my hotel on the way to dinner, but then came back to edit my pictures after I ate. My fish and chips were nothing that we can’t get at home, but dessert was to die for – pavlova with strawberries. Basically a meringue with fresh whipped cream and strawberries on top. Of course, the night wouldn’t be complete without some Irish music, so I headed off to Kitty O Se’s around 9:00 for a pint and some music. The group performing was great, and they were dancing around the pub as they played. Another fun night!