October 7 and 8

From Dublin to Kilkenny to Kinsale, with a stop in Cashel

Ruins of 12 century cathedral and tower on the rock of Cashel.

Everyone survived the drive, pretty much intact….

First, the good news: we drove from Dublin to Kilkenny and on to Kinsale. We had a good stay in Kilkenny, a very nice stop at the Rock of Cashel, and we arrived safely at the Trident Hotel in Kinsale, where we stayed 8 years ago.

On Sunday morning (the 7th) we went from the Intercontinental to the Dublin Airport to pick up our car. [I say “our” car, but Patricia plans on only being a passenger.] Everything, I thought was pre-arranged. The car had been pre-paid so it should have been easy. But oh, no! American Express fell down on the job badly and it took well over two hours to get our car on the road.

Once we got going, the drive was straightforward. We were able to skirt Dublin and traffic was quite light. It is taking a while to be sure where both sides of the car are at all times, but so far not even a minor scrape. Our GPS (supplied by Avis, rather than my own) worked superbly and gave clear instruction in plenty of time—with one exception.

The roads got progressively narrower and went from divided road to 2 lanes to narrow city streets with cars parked on both sides. When we got close to the River Court Hotel (which contains a clue about its location) in Kilkenny the GPS decided to get confused. It had the location on the wrong side of the River Nore  and kept telling us to turn into streets that were not where the GPS thought they were. Finally, however, I spotted the entrance by chance and we found ourselves at a pleasant tourist-type hotel which is on the banks of the River Nore and is just below the Kilkenny Castle.. We had a good lunch-Patricia had the beef and beer stew—before doing a little sightseeing late Sunday afternoon. Kilkenny is a walkable city (only 9,000 people which is too small to be a proper city, but King James gave them a City charter in the early 1600s for some reason) with many places to see. 

Kilkenny Castle

One of the main attractions is the Kilkenny Castle, which dates back to the late 12th century. It has been restored and now looks like it did in the mid-1800s on the outside. [We did not have chance to go inside.] Nearby, in what used to be the stables is a set of craft shops that had lots of textiles for Patricia to look at and touch. The Butler house is where the family that once owned the castle lived. It is now a restaurant and museum. It had a colorful, well-maintained garden. We also walked up the High Street—lots of shops. Kilkenny is famous for, among other things, its variety of pubs and restaurants and we saw plenty, There is an area called the Medieval Mile (they must have measured differently in the old days because it is about 400 meters long) with lots of old shops—or shops made to look old. Fortunately, many of them were closed.

Kilkenny Castle from the river walk

We had intended to find some music, but we instead made an early night of it; perhaps the driving was more tiring than we realized.

Stained glass in the Dominican Black Abbey, Kilkenny

This morning (Monday, the 8th) we had a traditional Irish buffet breakfast in the dining room which overlooks the river. It was very pleasant to listen to the buzz of conversation and have coffee and toast and other things.

We then spent the rest of the morning visiting the Dominican Black Abbey and St Mary’s Cathedral–with stops for shopping, of course.

St Mary’s Cathedral, Kilkenny

Our destination for today was the Trident Hotel in Kinsale, which is a few miles past Cork on the southern coast.

Cathedral (background), defensive tower and strong house (foreground)

We had decided to stop on the way at the Rock of Cashel which is an important location in Irish history. It is 40-some miles from Kilkenny. The GPS kindly took us on back roads for most of the drive. The scenery was really interesting. Many of the trees have their fall colors on, the fields are many shades of green, the sheep looked extraordinarily white in the green fields, some of the hills had clouds creeping over their tops, AND there were ruins of old churches and strong houses to be seen in the fields or right next to the road. The town of Cashel, which lies at the foot of the Rock, was a little confusing, but we made it to the car park with only a little trouble. [Besides, we wanted to see nearly every street in town, didn’t we?]

On the Rock of Cashel–many of the grave markers, which look ancient, are less than 200 years old.

The Rock of Cashel was the traditional seat of the Kings of Munster. The top of the hill provides sweeping views, which probably helped its defense. There were, not surprisingly, several periods of building on the Rock, but some of the ruins date back to at least 400 CE (current era). St. Patrick is supposed to have visited in 432 CE. Now the ruins are of ecclesiastical buildings dating from the 12th to the 15th centuries.

Cathedral (background), defensive tower and strong house (foreground)

The ruins are impressive and, for most of the buildings, only enough restoration has been done to keep them safe. The graveyard nearly surrounds the buildings and it is clear that people are still being interred there. That struck me as odd, since I thought of the place as an archaeological site and not an active one.

We had an enjoyable time walking around and through the ruins before continuing our trip to Kinsale.

On the way to Kinsale, we passed through part of Cork. We did pretty well, with only one missed turn at a roundabout. Patricia was thrilled, thrilled, I say, when she realized that we were taking the same road from Cork to Kinsale that we took 8 years ago. Of course, that time it was at night, it was raining, and the roads seemed 6 feet wide with hedges reaching out to grab the car. It was much better this time. The GPS got us as far as Kinsale only, but we found the Trident with no difficulty: it is on the water along the harbor road, so it is hard to miss—in the daylight. The last time, I nearly drove us into the water. In my defense, it was night and it was raining.

The Trident Hotel was nice before, but it has upgraded since 2010 and we have a very nice view of the harbor from our comfortable room.

Here are two maps. One is the trip to Kilkenny and the other is from Kilkenny to Cashel to Kinsale.

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