Kilkenny Cashel Cobh

Kilkenny is listed as one of the most beautiful destinations in Ireland and located on our way, it was not to be missed. Parking is usually problematic, but we scored ‘gold’directly opposite the castle entrance. We wondered in checked out the gardens and decided our need for coffee was a priority. We found a hole in the wall where we got great coffee and sat in the sun contemplating how lucky we were to score yet another magic day.

Wandering around Kilkenny is an art form. We loitered around guided tours determining if it was what we wanted to do. A church which had been converted into a museum attracted our attention and we waltzed in. The thing we have discovered about Irish tourist guides is that they really like to talk, and you don’t really have to take a tour. You can find out all you need to know by being interested, asking lots of questions and then following up. We did find one fellow in the tourist office where we were caught in conversation for such a long time, II was considering feigning a fit or some sort of distraction so Sue could get away and I would recover miraculously and chase her down.

Sue was on a mission. Our Irish Ann makes jams and innumerable other things, but Sue was taken by the jam pot covers- an inventive device to keep the jams fresh up until first use then of course use the lids. Our friend at the museum recommended Allen’s- a homeware store. We found them!!!

We visited the Rock of Cashel and joined a tour led by the incredible Sarah whose knowledge, passion and humour entertained and informed us. Brian Boru, the legendary High King of Ireland who drove out the Vikings, was crowned at Cashel in 978, and made it his capital. It is reputed to be the site of the conversion of the King of Munster by Saint Patrick in the 5th century and was the traditional seat of the kings of Munster for several hundred years prior to the Norman invasion. Most of the surviving structures are 11th and 12th century. Cormac’s Chapel 12th century. We completed our perfect morning with a bowl of soup and soda bread at Granny’s Kitchen.

The decision to go to Cobh (Cove- no v in Irish) was based on the fact that huge numbers of emigrants left from this port. We would surely discover something interesting. Our B&B was delightful, our room overlooked the garden and the port.

First night we walked into town to find a Guinness and a bite. We certainly have developed a taste for the smooth black elixir. Finding a pub was easy but it was Tuesday and lots of places were not serving meals but the Titanic Experience Cobh had a lovely restaurant attached and served excellent meals. Sue had Seafood Chowder and was convinced it was the best she had ever eaten (ie until she had the next one and that was the best. She has since become a connoisseur of seafood chowders).

I wanted to take a photo of ‘the deck of cards’ a collection of pretty, colourful tenement houses tumbling down the street. It always looks good in the brochures but it’s not always easy to achieve. We trespassed through the bishop’s gardens and got the photo!

Parking in tourist towns is problematic and today the cruise ship was in and the place was busy. We went to pay. The machine was out of order so we took it as a sign..go forth and explore oh curious ones…. Cross fingers we don’t get a fine!!!

The cruise ship, Regal Princess, was docked in Cobh and thousands of tourists filled the small town. Of course, busloads had gone off on tours but there were still those who were curious about the Titanic and the history of Cobh. There were a couple of museums, and the Cobh Heritage Museum was our pick. It was on the dock directly beside the cruise ship. Clever people thinking to convert those wearhouses into a heritage museum. We were issued with a ticket and a character to follow. It was very well done and there was a significant section with a focus on those who went to Australia. The genealogist was very generous and helped Sue discover one of her relatives was from an orphanage. She was a bit miffed. Orphans present particular difficulties to DNA trackers!

Armed with a proper Irish breakfast of eggs, bacon, beans, grilled tomatoes, hash browns, black pudding and white pudding I considered my Celtic/Viking heritage and was ready to launch into a day of serious mayhem and madness however I had Sue to consider, who is semi-vegetarian and wasn’t as inspired by the rush of protein and fats  and I just had to pull my head in and be real. We were off to the west coast.. Galway-  ‘City of the Tribes’ or ‘Cathair na dTreabh’.

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