Kilkenny Calm

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August 10th 2007
Published: August 27th 2007
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To make our trip to Kilkenny a little more interesting, Iz and I decided to stop off at a couple of sight-seeing points along the way. It wasn’t too long a drive to our final destination, so we could afford to take some time out from our fairly busy schedule.

Our first stop was only 30-40 mins from Cork - the Mitchelstown Caves - one of Europe’s major show caves - according to their brochure. We were a little unsure of this when we rocked up - in a tiny car park in front of a dingy country house - and our opinion didn’t improve when we headed up the long drive and into a tiny shack to wait for our guide.

First impression were definitely wrong - and as we entered the tiny dwarves door into the caves, and wound down a VERY steep staircase, we saw some amazing sights. The caves are very damp, and the first cavern is quite roomy. We got to see some developing stalactites (the ones that go down I think) and stalagmites (the ones that go up) and some calcite curtains - some of which look like funny pigs ears.

The next two caverns were much bigger and contained HUGE pillars of limestone that must have taken thousands and thousands of years to form (the stalactites drip down to form stalagmites on the ground level, and the two tiny pillars become larger, and painstakingly begin to form one solid pillar). The limestone is coloured from light grey, to dark black, and red, and is very beautiful. It would be a child’s wonderland down here, and the guide pointed out some of the creations previous kids had come up with, including the cave’s resident monster (a funny looking stalagmite that did have some serious limestone jaws!)

Our guide was brave enough to sing a beautiful Irish folk song to let us hear the acoustics of the cave - they have many concerts here every year - but none of our party of four were game enough to sing. The largest cavern has a natural stage which performers can stand on, and play to the crowd seated below…it would be a magical event at Christmas time - with carols and candles!

After our too short tour ( and no photos allowed!!), we headed on to the next stop - one of

One of the many tractors that slowed our progress!
Ireland’s most revered sights - the Rock of Cashel. This was once the throne to Ireland’s Kings, but in later times (we’re talking 10th- 13th century) it was used as a holy site of worship. Saint Patrick is said to have preached at Cashel, and several kings were ordained here. The sight has fallen into some decay, but this makes it all the more appealing, as you wander around the interesting ruins. There are three main buildings to explore, including a chapel with ancient paintings still visible on the ceiling.

One thing that Iz and I have both noticed is that Ireland seems to be quite a popular pilgrimage destination. Many people from all over the world have been at these places of worship - I am sure Europe will be the same, but it has been interesting to see it here, as we haven’t experienced it anywhere else yet (not that we would have expected it in the States!)

It didn’t take long to reach Kilkenny from Cashel, and we had some time to check out the local shops (which are quite good) before making our way to our B and B. The TV was perched so high up, we had to relax by lying back and watching the tele flat on our backs - no complaints here. Kilkenny is a quiet little place, that allows you to relax…we will need it before hitting the big time in Dublin, Ireland’s largest city. Sweet Dreams!

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