We left Cork at like nine to get to Mitchelstown Cave, which Riley read was probably the best in Ireland aside from Marble Arches, in Northern Ireland. Why do I always end up in caves? I really like them but this feels like an abnormal proportion of my life, spent in caves. Anyway, it was cheap and not super developed, at least in comparison to Carlsbad or Kartchner, so we were clambering deep underground. Topside, it was raining a little, our first day of sub-perfect weather, but it was bearable.
We drove over to Cashel next and walked through some random Irish guy’s field to Hore Abbey (above), the extensive ruins that had some awesome views of the Rock of Cashel. The Rock of Cashel isn’t a castle, but a collection of religious buildings, including a ruined cathedral (below) and a round tower, which I mentioned is a uniquely Irish building type. So the entire hill is this odd mishmash of old churches and older ones, graves and towers and whatnot. There’s a chapel that we could only go into for fifteen minutes so as not to destroy it with our tourist breath. It had the only, and thus oldest, extant medieval fresco painting in Ireland.
After some glamour shots (also below), we drove to Bunratty. Our B&B was spectacularly strange, and this after we stayed for many days in odd places, B&Bs largely, with their own quirks. The one in Bunratty was tended to by this gravekeeper sort of guy and all of the decorations were lacy and 1940s-ish. Riley for some reason booked us double rooms everywhere, which translates to one large bed and one bed sized for a sickly Victorian child.
Late that night, we walked over to Bunratty Castle for a medieval banquet. What a hilarious and wonderful experience–so worth the fifty euros we spent on it. They had people in costume serve us mead after we climbed up this narrow spiral staircase. Riley and I drank so much free white wine and sat on these long benches eating with our hands–some sort of turnip soup, ribs, roast chicken, and cinnamon apple pie. The food was pretty good but the whole time, the entertainers played music and told history jokes. The audience was like 95% older people coming off tour buses, and then here’s Riley and me, randos who’d rather be at a medieval banquet than a club. This was probably my favorite thing we did. And Hore Abbey might be my favorite thing we saw. So a fantastic day, all around & what an insane life.