Ireland, Day Three
10/4/05 06:27 pm
DUBLIN – Got up after a brief “nap” – at 7 a.m. – and finally got to eat. Enjoyed a nice BIG buffet. Checked email while M went to freshen up and ready herself for the day. We were packed and on our way by 10 a.m. – she’d already selected our next destination – Kilkenny – and we’d called ahead for a room. We were on a “self drive” trip, which basically gave us vouchers and a B&B book, so we could pretty much go anywhere.
A little weird driving the M7 – I’ll never get over the “traffic jams” – mainly due to road work. On a humorous level, it’s like driving in PA – orange barrels and cones everywhere and one lane each way punctuated by road crews stopping traffic every so often.
The distance is another experience. Being used to several hours between destinations (especially after the last month, driving back and forth to Pittsburgh from DC to help my wife on our move), it’s a shock to get to what seems like a faraway spot within only an hour or so.
Our first ‘stop’ was the Moone High Cross. We missed the turnoff twice – once because the sign was overgrown in one direction, so when we’d turned around, we missed the turn. Here, there are no ‘warning’ signs of impending turns. Once you see the arrow, you turn. When we got on the right road, we saw another sign pointing at a walled gate, but initially thought it meant the next turn. Nope. When we turned around and parked in the little strip in front of the gate, we saw a gap in the wall, so we stepped through. After a short trip through a pasture, we reached the ruined church and the enormous 15′ (7m) cross. Wow. (Warning – you’re going to hear that word a LOT from me on this trip…..)
Trying to imagine it painted – had to have been a sight!
After some time there (and getting some pics, esp. with M in one for size reference), we headed on to the Jerpoint Glass Studio. Beautiful glass art – but no antiques (we were looking for old bottles for M’s dad, he’s a collector). In fact, the ladies there didn’t know what the word meant. We weren’t there long and then headed to the Kell’s Priory.
The Priory is a huge open ruin – five hectares of land with a massive castle/keep and priory. Enormous!
It was just awe-ing to walk among such ancient stones.
There was some reconstruction being done there, but by and large it was quiet and just…powerful.
In one large section, many of the stones had been organized – like types of pillars, arches, etc. all grouped together. The interesting thing was that the area was somewhat overgrown and many of the pieces were settled in their location – I’m thinking that 50-100 years back, there was an effort to begin restoration so someone used the area to organize.
There was no plaques or information there – so I had to guess with certain things. Even so, M seem really interested – I think mainly it was the architectural sense she has that got aroused. She even spotted several of the wood anchor points in much of the keep walls. Trying to imagine what it must’ve looked like was a fun exercise between us.
After several hours there, where we walked the river behind the Priory…
to the old sawmill and then to the street and back, we made a side trip to the Kilee monastic site – basically a round tower on the edge of a still-used graveyard. In the middle of a cow pasture.
Beyond the tower was a standing cross, marking the grave of an Irish king.
Again, no info plaques, which would’ve been nice – but I think as Americans, we’re spoiled with our historical sites (them being so young still, comparatively). Fortunately, we have our Lonely Planet guidebook, which has some basic information in it.
Our B&B hostess wouldn’t be available until 7 p.m., so we still had some time to kill. Zipped through Thomastown trying to find a place to eat, but what’s open are either pubs (with no food – we asked), Take Away shops (pizza, burgers, etc), or expensive restaurants. We ended up driving north to Kilkenny and found a hotel/pub with excellent food. We got to the B&B after 8 p.m.
Overall, a great trip so far. A bit chilly, but that’s ok. I’ll take the chill over crowds anyday. So now we’re getting ready for a jaunt to Hooks Head penninsula, and if time, a trip to Cahir and the castle there. We’re heading to the Ring of Kerry before too long – don’t want the time to fly by too quickly and miss some things. Should be another pleasant day tomorrow (there’s no TV here, so can’t check weather), though it’d be really nice if the clouds just dispersed – M would like better light to shoot scenery. But no worries, I’m sure she’ll get some good stuff regardless.