Kilkenny

Riley and I got up early and left Dublin to make a tour of Kilkenny castle (about an hour south of the city). The original castle dates to the 12th century but, as always happens with these buildings, people have added on sections and levels over the centuries. It was way too bright out for my camera, but to the left is a picture of Riley and I with one side of the castle, most of which is more modern than the 12th century core. (Side note: we were wondering why everything is Kil-something, like Kilkenny, and it turns out a name that starts with “kil” means the area was built around a church.)

After our tour of the castle, we wandered down to St Canice’s Cathedral and Round Tower. Round towers are specific to Ireland. They were built by monks to help them escape Viking raids, until the Vikings realized they could easily just start a fire and burn the monks out. Needless to say, the building type didn’t really catch on elsewhere, with that glaring loophole.

Riley chose to climb up to the top of the round tower at St. Canice’s, and I’m glad I chose to go into the cathedral and look around instead. Apparently there’s one narrow ladder all the way to the top of the tower. The tower also leans and is not very regulated. The idea seems to be “pay 4 euros and sure, go climb on the thing.” It’s a pretty common attitude here, which I like because it means there are fewer railings between me and whatever I want to see, and few restrictions about what I can climb all over. But it does mean that the Cliffs of Moher were…. cliffs. Without railings. And a path that ran right next to them. (That’ll all come later, though.)

We took a walking tour through Airbnb called Shenanigans, which is run by a local guide/magician/comedian who spent three hours taking us around the city. We determined that Riley is psychic and I am a witch. Finally, we ended up at the Black Abbey, so named because it originally housed Franciscan friars who wore black. It was built in the 13th century and is known for the amazingly colorful stained glass inside. Also for the mass graves of poor people and plague victims on the grounds, but… well.

Finally, we kept driving towards Cork, with a quick stop at Cahir Castle (we didn’t go in) for a break and a picture of the geese. I’ll probably go back before I leave in December. We were so immensely lucky to have such beautiful, temperate days of sun for most of this trip.

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