Republic of Ireland - Round The World Tour 2 2003 Day 165
Sunday 24th August
We weren’t nearly as rushed this morning as yesterday. Well rested and refreshed, we awoke and started the day with the now usual routine of making breakfast, clearing up and opening up the curtains. We took full advantage of the facilities of the campsite; topped up the main water tank, emptied the chemical toilet and ditched all our rubbish. I still think that €15 for the privilege is a little steep but it is a necessary evil at least once or twice a week.
Our drive to the next destination on the map was not a long one. We drove South West towards a small place called Cashel where another castle was waiting to be explored. The Rock of Cashel consists of several buildings that all form together to look like a single complex. It is located atop a fairly steep hill with no single room or chamber still completely intact. We parked and ate lunch first at a nearby café in the village. Since we are now members of Dúchas, we flashed our cards and went in free of charge. We were just in time for the next guided tour, which seems to be the norm with historic tourist attractions here in Ireland. The young lady took about twenty of us around the castle grounds and we explored all the nooks and crannies that we could find. The views out over the surrounding countryside were sheer beauty. It was again a very clear and bright day with warm temperatures and we could see pretty much as far as the eye could see in all directions from our vantage point atop the hill on which the castle is built. A number of years ago, a violent storm contributed to the further decay of the castle and a huge section of one corner of the castle that was already weakened by the passage of time collapsed. This now reveals some very interesting hidden corridors that were built into the massively thick outer walls through which the clerics of the day could escape during any attacks.
Farther down the hill lay the ruins of another ancient abbey and we walked part way down to get a closer look at it. Since everything that goes down must come back up again, we decided not to go all the way down and sat down for a snack instead before returning to the van.
Onwards then to our next destination which was even less of a drive farther South. Cahir (pronounced ‘care’) is home to yet another castle (there are apparently some six thousand castles in Ireland alone). I would have to say that Dúchas do a very good job of managing and presenting their properties in Ireland. Although English Heritage also does a good job with providing audio devices and such, Dúchas provide guided tours and often video presentations for their guests and tourists that makes the whole visit that much more interesting. Cahir castle was no exception and we enjoyed a very informative video presentation of the various historical attractions in Cahir and the surrounding areas. The guided tour was also very enjoyable and we were provided with yet more pieces of the overall historic puzzle. Slowly but surely, things are starting to fit together as we start to tie various titbits of information together as we travel around. History was never this much fun and interesting in school.
After a bit of a wander around town, we drove a couple of kilometres up the road to an attraction known as the Swiss Cottage. In actual fact it’s not Swiss at all as this was just a nickname that the small ornery cottage was given many years ago. It is an extremely picturesque little cottage that is decorated with a complex thatched roof and very pretty rose trellises. Once again we took advantage of the rolling guided tour.
Whilst in Cahir, we were thinking of parking in the car castle car park (there were no signs telling us that we couldn’t) but the drive through a small wood to get to the Swiss Cottage revealed a much better spot. A much more secluded and out of the way car park situated in the wood seemed like a much more cosier locale and so here we are now having just finished preparing, eating and cleaning up after our home cooked evening meal of pork strips and roast potatoes. Another habit that we’ve also gotten into is watching episodes of Star Trek Deep Space 9 on DVD each evening. We can sometimes go through two or three episodes before dozing off each evening and we already have one behind us tonight. One more, I think, will do it for tonight and then it’s off again to dreamland.