Kilkenny, Ireland (and our first day driving in Ireland!)

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Europe » Ireland » County Kilkenny » Kilkenny
July 8th 2009
Published: July 15th 2009
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After a good night’s sleep (especially considering our hotel was on top of a fire station) and full breakfast, we walked about two blocks to Thrifty Car Rental this morning to pick up our rental car. Out of paranoia (and after learning that one of our fellow guests at our B&B in Belfast had just been in an accident), we decided to add all of the optional coverage for our car, just in case. We’re driving a black Hyundai Accent and it came with an already cracked side view mirror, if that’s any indication of what happens when foreigners try to drive here. My turn to drive isn’t until tomorrow so I’ll let you know how it went then, but today we made it without any problems, so hopefully our luck will continue!

Before leaving Dublin we drove across the river to Church Street so we could go to St. Michan’s Church to see the crypts. If you go to Dublin, you HAVE to go here. It was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. The church itself really isn’t all that impressive, but when you go to see the vaults underneath, you get to see a long stretch of various crypts and, most importantly, a group of mummies that have been uncovered and are between 400 and 800 years old. Best of all, you get to walk in and touch the finger of the 800 year old mummy for good luck. The tour guide is very funny and trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

After St. Michan’s we made our way to the N7 and headed to Kilkenny. We somehow ended up on the N4 by mistake, but after a quick stop to ask for directions at a petrol station (which are easy to find all along the highway), we were on our way in the right direction.

When we were almost to Kilkenny, it was too early to check into our B&B so we went first to Denmore Caves, located about 10km outside the city. The caves, which consist of a number of chambers formed over millions of years, contain some of the finest calcite formations in Ireland. The caves also show evidence of a Viking massacre that took place there in 928AD. If you’re in the area, it’s worth a visit (and admission is free if you have the Irish Heritage Card).

It was 3pm when we finished the tour, so we drove to our B&B (Chaplin’s), checked in and dropped off our bags, then walked to the city center to Kilkenny Castle. The castle dates back to the 12th century but was remodeled in Victorian times. It was home to the Butler family, Marquessas and Dukes of Ormonde. The castle is rather impressive (and also free with the Heritage Card), and the surrounding park area is huge and a perfect spot to relax or have a picnic (while we were there someone was even flying a kite).

After leaving the castle, we wandered back through the city center in search of something to eat. There are tons of pubs to choose from but some are a little pricey (as is almost everything in Ireland so far). We ended up at a little Italian-style place called Cafe Roma. I had a chicken and cheese pannini with chips and a diet 7-Up. It was okay, but someone near us had fish and chips and I wish I’d ordered that instead.

We walked back toward our B&B and stopped at a pub called The Brog House for some beers. I had a pint of Smithwick’s, which I like better than Guinness. I think I’ll be having that instead if it’s available at the next pub we go to. They had a Kilkenny beer too but it was unavailable so we didn’t get to try it.

Tomorrow we are driving to Rock of Cashel, Blarney Castle, and then on to Kenmare. Wish me luck driving on the other side of the road (and other side of the car) for the first time. Eek!

Additional photos below
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21st July 2009

Wow! Denmore caves look astounding! You've taken some grand photos there. And it looks like you're going to have fish and chip withdrawals when you get home. Don't think I'll be able topost them.

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