Republic of Ireland - Round The World Tour 2 2003 Day 164

Kilkenny

Saturday 23rd August

Having crammed quite a lot in today, we have already lost sight of the fact that we only just arrived in Ireland the other day. It was not a particularly restful night in Enniscorthy. As the kids slowly but surely left the various and many pubs to head off home, every half an hour or so, one would knock on the side of the van just as we were dozing off. Being abruptly torn from deep sleep repeatedly starts to get on your nerves after a while. I don’t know what time it was that we finally got to sleep but I do remember feeling that I could use another couple of hours sleep once we awoke this morning.

Still a little aimless, we set off for some nearby historical monuments that were marked on our road map. The first place we reached was called St. Mullins where a church ruin along with a rather picturesque graveyard attached awaited us. A so-called High Cross was also present in the church grounds along with the remains of what looked like a mot. We stayed for a while before moving on to a somewhat unpronounceable placed called Graiguenamanagh where an abbey was listed on the map. The drive itself was through some extremely beautiful winding country lanes with some breath-taking views across valleys and dales overlooking the winding river Urrin. The small town was no less picturesque and we enjoyed wandering around the town. The abbey was rather nice with a fantastic old hammer beam roof but, alas, we could not find the stature of the Knight of Graiguenamanagh Abbey. We think it was moved into the local museum.

As we are noticing more and more, every little town in Ireland seems to come complete with dozens of pubs and taverns. We stopped in at one of them and sat down to a nice carvery meal. It was a very good meal and even more so reasonably priced. On the way back to the van from the tavern, we bumped into a little man on a bike wearing a high visibility jacket. At first, I thought we were going to get an earful for parking where we had but it turned out that he was some sort of tourist information official that was tasked with bringing tourists into the town. He spent a few minutes telling us what we could do and where we could go. We asked where we could get access to the Internet (we felt somewhat obligated to provide him with the opportunity to assist us somehow) and he happily pointed us in the direction of the local public library.

At €3 for thirty minutes, the Internet access did not come cheaply. At this rate, we will be spending precious little time at public library Internet terminals here in Ireland but took the opportunity, nevertheless, to send an e-mail to a couple that we met whilst diving in Sodwana Bay in South Africa. If memory serves, Ryan and Siska live in Dublin and so we are hoping to get to see them sometime during our visit.

After tending our Internet chores, we left that place that could not be pronounced and set off for Kilkenny. Just as we reached the small town, we noticed a camping ground and inquired about parking there. As with all the camping grounds that we’ve seen so far her in Ireland, it was going to cost us €15 per night for the van plus two occupants (excluding electricity hook-up). Since this is clearly the expected going rate, we’ve now resigned ourselves to having to fork out this amount almost every night so we bit the bullet and settled in. Since the town was literally just several hundred yards from the camp-site, we broke out the bikes and cycled into the town centre where Kilkenny Castle awaited us.

It’s quite a large building and still very much intact. A park full of picnickers and families, out enjoying a wonderful sunny day, extends a half a mile or so from one side of the building and we cycled through it to get to the castle itself. We strolled around the grounds for a while before locking up the bikes and going inside. Kilkenny castle is very much a tourist attraction with guided tours leading the pundits off every twenty minutes or so through the various restored rooms and halls. Once again, our student ID cards netted us each a one year membership into Dúchas, the Irish equivalent of English Heritage, for just €7,50 (I’m so glad we went to Cairo earlier this year). Our guided tour started with a video presentation about the history of the castle and we were then lead around by a nice young girl who explained various aspects of the castle and its trimmings.

During the tour, we were shown a rather large and peculiar looking toilet that was apparently the very first flushing toilet of its day. Since we had to leave our bags and cameras in the cloakroom, I was unable to add this to my collection of toilets from around the world so I spoke with the tour guide at the end of the presentation to make my case for grabbing a quick snap of it. This request went on up the chain of command until we finally found someone who would allow the rather strange request providing ‘it never happened’.

Having leaned all we were going to about the castle, we then walked outside and into the town itself. Kilkenny is the quintessential, small, cosy, vibrant and lively Irish town. Narrow streets hustled and bustled with lively people going about their business. I’m starting to really feel like I’m experiencing Ireland now.

Today was a long day but a good one. I took advantage of the camp-sites various facilities, including washing machine and dryer and we are now well and truly tucked in for the night. When we joined Dúchas, we were issued with a book and map full of all the historic buildings and attractions that we can now get into free of charge. This has given some direction and purpose to the next few weeks and we will no longer be just aimlessly wandering around the country. Instead, we will now be able to structure our journey around the country and this should make things a little easier for us.

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