Ireland Day 5 - Rock of Cashel and Kilkenny

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Rock of Cashel

Well, here we are in Kilkenny. We're staying at the Pembroke and from our room we can see about the top 1/3 of Kilkenny Castle. We're feeling rather castled out at the moment, so we haven't done the tour yet - maybe if we have time tomorrow. We left Limerick around 9 AM without eating the hotel breakfast, figuring we could find a little coffee shop on route to the Rock of Cashel. Not quite as easy as we figured, we passed a few pubs offering a "full Irish breakfast", but felt that wasn't really what we were looking for. We rolled into Cashel around 10:30 AM, after a precarious ride. Driving on the left side of the road is hard enough with caffeine, I don't recommend it without! We parked in Cashel and were drawn to a coffee shop like moths to a light. After our coffee fix, we were able to recognize that we had to actually drive a little further to get to the Rock of Cashel, which we proceeded to do.

St. Patrick's Cross
The Rock of Cashel is a huge mound of limestone, with a town built on the side and some magnificent ruins on top. The largest structure is a ruined cathedral from the 10th century. James, a musician daylighting as tour guide, brought us on a lovely tour of the ruins and told us some intriguing local legends. My favorite was about St. Patrick's Cross (a non-traditional stone celtic cross symbolizing the spot where St. Patrick baptized the 1st christian king of Ireland). According to James, St. Patrick always carried a staff, which he stuck into the ground during the baptism. Unfortunately, his aim was off and he actually stuck the staff through the foot of the king, who thought this was a part of the baptism ceremony. James credits this as the reason why Christianity was so slow to spread through the region. He also told us that if you can fit your arms all the way around the stone base of the cross, you will never get another toothache, and if you can make 9 consecutive counter-clockwise circles around the cross while hopping on one foot, you will get married within a year.

A momma sheep with 2 babies on
a back road from Cashel to Kilkenny
We left Cashel around 12:30 PM, and took some lovely back roads to Kilkenny. Upon arriving, we grabbed a snack at Mocha, a chocolate and coffee shop (how can you go wrong with that combination?). We checked into The Pembroke hotel, where the girl at reception, who was from Spain, recommended an Italian restaurant across from the castle. We walked around and did some window shopping before ending the night at the recommended Rinuccini, where a lovely young man from Bulgaria served us a yummy dinner and tiramasu that was out of this world.

Getting ready for bed now and watching a hilarious episode of "Britain's Got Talent". We're not sure what's on for tomorrow - possibly Powerscourt Garden/Mansion, although it's supposed to be a pretty long drive.

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