We had a loose list of places we wanted to try to see while we were in Kilkenny. On our first day we were able to check off the Smithwick’s Brewery tour. That left a full day for our second (and last) day in Kilkenny.
On our list of possibilities in and near the city:
St. Canice’s Cathedral
Rock of Cashel
After talking with the hotel staff, we decided to cross Waterford off the list. It was a little farther than we wanted to drive and no one was really feeling they had to see the crystal factory. We also quickly took Rock of Cashel out of our plan. Some notes on the Heritage Ireland website made it seem as if parts were closed for the year. Too far to drive without knowing we’d get the full experience.
So we made it down to breakfast around 8 and decided to start our day at Kilkenny Castle. During breakfast we joked around that we could see a small patch of blue sky. Another diner half-jokingly told us to be quiet and not jinx it. I guess the weather the previous days had been as wet and gray as we’d been worried about.
After our first Irish breakfast of the trip, we found street parking near Kilkenny Castle. In trying to figure out the parking meter, my husband realized we didn’t have any small coins to pay the meter. He asked a man for help to use the credit card (all the parking stations near us at home take cards). This incredibly nice man interrupted his morning and ended up putting a few Euro into the meter for us. He wouldn’t take anything for it. We were so grateful to him. We found most people in Ireland to be incredibly warm and friendly and he was proof of our experience.
We walked up to the castle a few minutes before the 9:30 opening. Kilkenny Castle did not have guided tours, but they had guides stationed in strategic spots to answer questions. The castle was not crowded and we really enjoyed our walk through.
When we walked the castle grounds, we realized it had rained a little during our time inside. This was a recurring theme on our trip. We attributed it to the “lucky key chain” Bean had purchased. She said it would bring us good weather. It certainly helped us avoid a lot of rain!
We made a quick shopping stop for a sweater (Bean got it in her head that she wanted one and we had a few minutes to find one she liked). Our next stop was St. Mary’s Cathedral. This was not on any of our lists. But, we passed it as we walked to St. Clarice and decided to stop in. It was very beautiful and worth our short detour.
I kept calling this St. Clarice’s and actually wrote this in my notes. Without that picture of the cathedral’s name, I would have gone on ahead calling it St. Clarice as I wrote this. I’m not sure why I have such a block on the church’s correct name!
Anyway, we wanted to see the cathedral and climbing the round tower was also recommended to us. It turned out that Bean was too short to climb. She wasn’t interested anyway, so my husband took Sport to climb the tower and the rest of us visited the inside. The ticket included a self-guided tour. Bean had fun locating the different stops and learning about the church. My mom enjoyed the church, but was a little disturbed by the “gift shop.” It tu turned out to be a few shelves set up right over someone’s grave. Probably not what that person signed up for when they purchased the site years ago!
After we all finished in the cathedral, I decided to climb the tower. I’ve climbed a lot of lighthouses and church towers. I can do it, but I don’t love it. This tower was the worst one to date. There were six sets of ladders with a railing. If someone was coming down, you had to wait. To make it even more frustrating, there was this recording of a man goading me along. “You will climb all of these steps! You are halfway there!” His accent suggested that he lived long ago. Was he supposed to be a spirit? I’m not sure, but I don’t think I would have gotten to the top if this recording hadn’t been taunting me along.
It was incredibly windy at the top. I took a quick look and climbed down before I could think too much about it.
Also not really on our list, but we were nearby and it looked interesting. The Rothe House and Garden is a sixteenth-century house (or complex of houses) and gardens. The rooms are set up like a museum and have different artifacts of the time. The gutter system in the courtyard and the gardens were really interesting. I felt that I had a good taste of what it would have been like to live in Ireland then. I’m really glad we took a chance here and the time to explore.
My original intention was to journal the entire day in this one post. However, there are way too many pictures and sites to reasonably fit in one post. I’ll leave it here, since we head out-of-town for little after the Rothe House.