Moving right along...
Day 3 - July 5 After the QUIETEST night I think I've ever spent, at Ballyduff House, we arose to our first "Full Irish" breakfast. Delicious, although we weren't big black pudding fans I must admit. Had to try it though.
We headed off to Kilkenny for the day. We parked in the large lot by the river Nore. We joined Pat Tynan's historic walking tour www.kilkennywalkingtours.ie/tour-details.html and spent a very enjoyable hour or so learning about this medieval city. Pat told great stories and we could almost picture parts of the town during the middle ages. We wandered around a bit and had lunch at The Hole in the Wall in their little courtyard - soup and sandwich, and we even got "iced tea" and "lemonade" although they were both different from what we were used to at home!
Walked to Kilkenny Castle, purchased our Heritage Pass and explored that on our own. The Picture Gallery was most stunning. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and so many people were out enjoying the beautiful lawn and gardens at the castle.
Back to Smithwicks Brewery where we had scheduled a 3:30pm tour. Note two things: 1) this tour will end later in 2013 as they are closing the brewery and moving it to Dublin; and 2) if you do want to go, book in advance as they were turning people away. It was a very detailed tour which added a lot more historical interest... our tour guide Ronan, a 30 year + employee of the brewery, was very passionate about its quality and it was an interesting story of survival during various tumultuous times in Ireland. Enjoyed pints afterward. We had dinner at Ronan's suggestion "Key Largo". I actually had spaghetti, which had a nice mediterranean flair, and my husband had a chicken burrito also seasoned with a Spanish accent. Very nice and again we sat outside to enjoy the weather and people watch. Then we sat in on an early trad session at Kytelers.
On our way back to Ballyduff, we had our first major "Laugh Out Loud" moment, when suddenly a herd of about 10 cows stampeded out of a driveway and right on to the road in front of us. It appeared that someone had accidentally opened a gate as they were chasing the cows down the driveway! The cows ran on the road in front of us and the people ran after them, cell phones in hand. About a mile down the road they must have reached their neighbors, who managed to herd the cows onto their own property to get them off the road. It was very funny!
Day 4 July 6: This day will be remembered as "Three Castles and Finding Jeremy" .
The next morning we ordered smaller breakfasts - the Full Irish is just too much! and said goodbye to Bred. What a lovely hostess.
We headed first toward the Rock of Cashel. Such beautiful views, my new Facebook cover photo is from here. The castle itself is under construction but we still enjoyed the historic atmosphere. There was a big bird (crow?) watching our tour from the top of the castle; I really go the impression that he was channeling some old ghost of Cashel!
Then on to Cashel. My husband liked this castle better because it was more "interactive"; you could climb around on the walls and up the stairs and passageways. Watch out though, I saw a tall German man bang his head HARD on one of the short arches. People were definitely much smaller 500 years ago!
And finally, Blarney Castle. It was everything I expected based on Trip Advisor reviews. Touristy, yes. Beautiful grounds and gardens, yes. We missed the tour buses so didn't wait long at all, and yes, we did kiss the blarney stone! Both my husband and I said that we had been hearing about that stone for decades, how could we miss it? Although we both had a very different picture in our heads... a large stone, in a field, or something like that. Must be from some old American Saturday morning cartoons or something. Check that one off the bucket list!
On to Kinsale where we checked into Desmond House. Parking was very tight and woah are the roads small! Our room, the Charles Fort suite, was huge, with a nice harbor view. Michael, the owner, was very welcoming. We rested for a bit and then headed out to dinner at Max's. Really fantastic meal. I had chicken, husband had cod, and we enjoyed a bottle of wine as well. We went back to our room for jackets, as the evening was cool. We liked being able to walk everywhere.. next time this would be my preference in every place we stay. On our way back up the hill to Desmond House, my husband swore that we walked by Jeremy Irons and his wife. I thought "no way, he 's seeing things" and teased him about it. So when we went back out, we sat at outside at the tables at the Market Bar in the square and watched for Jeremy to walk back up the hill! We talked with so many people that night, some of whom agreed with me that it was ridiculous that Jeremy Irons would be there.... until one said, well, yes, he actually has a home about 50km from here! Wait a minute, maybe my crazy husband is right! So we and several of our new friends spent the evening watching and waiting for Jeremy... but we never did find him though! Also had a laugh at the expense of a groom enjoying his Stag party... his friends had made him wear a dress and fishnet stockings and they were enjoying introducing him to everyone at the market.
Even later and a few more pints, and we strolled around looking for music. There was a lot, as it was a Saturday night and the opening night of the Kinsale Arts Festival. We stepped in to one bar, which was very loud and full of young and drunk stags/hens. Next, great music but a bar so crowded we couldn't breathe. Next, a bar with Sinatra-style music where the average age had to be 70. Where was our place? On to Oscar Madisons, where we found a group of people in our age bracket, more or less, and some rollicking rock/country music. A bunch of ladies, slightly drunk, were dancing and encouraging the band to continue. At first I thought they were all together but realized later that they weren't... and later I ended up dancing with them as they wanted every lady in the bar to dance!
But why are they turning the lights on already? Oh, it's 1 am! Wow, I haven't closed a bar in a while... and it won't be our last in Ireland!
Laundry is now calling my name but I will continue soon...