Published: January 30th 2007September 13th 2006
We had to check out early this morning, because we had a long day of bussing ahead to get to our next destination - Castledermot, County Kildare, where we were to stay in Kilkea Castle. Sadly, that meant no free breakfast at the B&B, so we dined on chips and chocolate from the bus station instead. Woohoo! Our bus ride to Cork went off without a hitch (we had to backtrack a little because we had decided on Killarney AFTER we’d already booked our Cork stuff, but it was only 1.5 hours, so not too bad. Plus, it was nice to be back in one of our favourite spots, even if it was only a half hour at the bus station). At Cork, we boarded the bus to Waterford with no problems and both of us slept most of the 2.5 hours it took to get there. I woke up as we were driving through the city of Waterford, and I liked the look of it. Maybe somewhere to explore on another trip. Finally, we boarded the Waterford-Dublin bus, which was to get us to Castledermot in 1.5 hours.
We were a little nervous we’d miss our stop (okay, I
was - Jenn doesn’t worry about stuff like that), but it worked out just fine. We unloaded our luggage and set off to find some food, first of all, since we’d been travelling for about 6 hours and we were past due for lunch. Many of the pubs in this small town of 800 weren’t serving food at the time, and we couldn’t fit our luggage through the door of the one that was, so we went into the grocery store and picked up some stuff to keep us going. For me, that was donuts (which Jenn said looked like the grossest donuts ever - “Homer Simpson donuts” I think were her exact words) and for Jenn that was potato salad, which she had to eat using a little ice cream spoon. We asked the women in the store how we’d go about getting a taxi to Kilkea Castle, and one of them told us to call ‘Len’ although he might not be working at the moment. Hmm.
Armed with Len’s number, we sat on a bench outside and called. It went straight to his voicemail. Great. I checked my binder, but didn’t have the castle’s number. Fabulous. So
we’re pretty much stranded, at least for the time being. Before panicking, Jenn and I decided to get some of that food in us and then go off in search of a phonebook to look for the castle’s number, in case they could send someone to get us. We also discussed hitchhiking, but decided that would be the absolute last resort.
So, after 6 hours of travelling, we were sitting on a bench in Castledermot, our luggage strewn all around us, eating disgusting donuts and potato salad with an ice cream spoon, panicking mildly about how the heck to get to this castle, when this guy around our age comes around the corner with a huge smile on his face. Jenn and I both saw him, but I recognized him first. “Oh my God…” is all that would come out of my mouth - it was Fearghal, the bartender from Cork! We jumped up in disbelief as he approached. Apparently, Fearghal had been driving through Castledermot when he saw us sorry sights (my words, not his, haha) sitting there on the bench, so he stopped around the corner. Wow. Honestly, what are the chances of that. Cork to Kildare.
I still can’t wrap my head around it.
After a few minutes of “Holy cow, what are you doing here?” Fearghal grabbed our bags and started around the corner to his car. Approaching it, we saw that it was a tiny little thing and that it had two other people already in it. Fearghal and his two friends were going on an overnight trip to Waterford and had their overnight bags packed into the tiny car too. I thought we were going to have to make two trips, but they were all very good-natured about being crammed into a small car with heavy bags on their laps. You know those circus stunts where a ton of clowns cram themselves into a comically small car? Yeah, it was pretty much like that. After hearing our story, Fearghal’s friend said that he would never want to be caught in Castledermot, because it’d be like ‘Deliverance’. I’ve never seen Deliverance, but I know enough to know that that wouldn’t be a good thing. The castle wasn’t far, and Fearghal helped us unload our bags and wished us a safe rest of our journey. Before he left, he called us back and pulled
the famous pink shirt out of the trunk with a wink. Much laughter ensued, we thanked him and his friends profusely and waved goodbye, not really believing our luck.
Finally, we could turn our attention to the beautiful place that was to be our accommodation for the night. Staying in a castle was high on Jenn’s list of priorities, and I agreed that it was a fun idea. Staying in budget accommodation for the rest of the trip allowed us to splurge on this one night in a 4 star castle hotel. The grounds were spectacular - driving up to the castle through rows of old trees, seeing green everywhere, was such a treat. Kilkea Castle was originally built in 1180 but has been restored numerous times since then. The outside of the castle was beautiful as well, with red ivy covering one turret - just how you picture a castle should look. We checked in and were shown to our room, which had a wonderful view of the side gardens. It also had two little beds, covered in regal-looking red and gold bedspreads. Jenn and I felt like princesses. We wandered around the grounds, taking pictures (the suit
of armour in the hallway was especially cool) and admiring the old buildings and gardens. Jenn went for a swim in the castle’s indoor pool and made use of the sauna, while I (ok, so I forgot to bring a bathing suit) hung out in the room, reading up on the history of the castle and it’s occupants. Not terribly interesting or dramatic, but there is supposedly a haunted tower.
We didn’t exactly have any ‘fancy’ clothes with us, so we opted to forego the $50 dinner in the castle’s restaurant and instead dined on soup and sandwiches in the bar downstairs. The soup was delicious, but the sandwiches were just white bread, a bit of mayonnaise and some dry chicken. Very unimpressive, especially for the price. We had been prepared to have a few drinks, but it was just us and a couple who, in my opinion, dearly needed to go back to their room so they could make out in private, hanging out in the bar, so we opted to save our money for our last couple of nights in Ireland (I know, I know, breaking the tradition of going out one night in each place -
terrible!). Instead, we went outside (in the pitch blackness, I might add) to take what Jenn called “Blair Witch pictures”. We pretended that we were being chased by ghosts, we hid behind old stone walls, we made scared faces, and we succeeded in getting ourselves completely freaked out. Aww, we’re really just little girls at heart. Sorry to anyone who heard the screaming.
The next morning, we awoke to room service knocking on the door - you had the option of going downstairs to breakfast or submitting your order the night before and having it brought to your room. It was a no-brainer for us, and we were absolutely delighted with the spread that greeted us. Eggs on toast, bacon, sausages, croissants, fresh fruit, hot chocolate, tomato juice, orange juice, tea - and that was just a sampling of the options you had, all included in the price of the room. We’d come a long way from free toast and OJ in Galway, baby. We ate it all in bed, again, like princesses and enjoyed our last few hours at Kilkea.
There are more photos below