Sunday, September 10, 2006

Friday, 8th September – Kilkenny to Killarney

After our traffic experiences of yesterday we headed off early without seeing much of Kilkenny itself (the phrase “we’ll have to spend more time here next time” is heard often!). We stopped off at a huge shop, which was supermarket & department store all in one. Absolutely enormous, and quite incongruous amongst the medieval streets and quaint little shops – we stocked up on some picnic food (including bananas!!).

Our destination was the Rock of Cashel, one of Ireland’s most historic & evocative sites. On a rocky hilltop rising high above the surrounding plains, it was an ancient home of the local tribal kings until one of them gave it to the church in 1101. It is apparently the place where St Patrick baptized the Irish King Aegus in around 450. Cashel became an important ecclesiastical centre, in use until the mid 1700s. The youngest building on the rock dates from the early 1400s. There is a round tower built in 1101, a chapel which was consecrated in 1134, and a large cathedral built between 1230 & 1290. We thoroughly enjoyed wandering among these ruined yet still impressive buildings, imagining the bare stone walls decorated with frescoes and filled with music and life.

Having lingered at Cashel a little longer then we expected, we headed to Killarney, our next port of call. We are staying just outside of town, near Ross Castle (there are castles at every turn in Ireland), so we went down to have a look at the Castle (the outside of it) and the lake which it overlooks, and watched the sun set. It was so picturesque we decided on the spot to change our plans and stay to do a lake cruise on Sunday rather than head north directly (assuming the weather holds)

We have had, so far, the most fantastic weather – warm, mostly sunny, about 4 drops of rain and they have been before breakfast or after dark. Not what we were expecting at all.