After we left the Rock of Cashel, we had about an hour yet until we reached Kilkenny. One of the reasons we chose Kilkenny was to see the castle there and I was pleased to find a hotel across the river from the castle with “castle view” rooms, which I imagined would be a special treat to stay in.
Following the directions to the hotel, we drove along a city street in Kilkenny and were rapidly approaching a bridge over the river, but not seeing any hotel signs. I knew we shouldn’t cross the river and that the hotel should be on the left. We finally spotted the entrance to the hotel and Mike was NOT thrilled to say the least to have to make a left turn and maneuver through that narrow opening!
The parking situation left a lot to be desired too –but we had arrived.
I was a bit disappointed upon arriving in our room to see that the designation of “castle view” was slightly misleading. You could see it –if you stood to the far side of the window and turned your head like the girl in the Exorcist.
Once we settled in, we decided to grab a bite to eat across the street from the hotel entrance at Matt the Miller’s.
It was a fun type of place and the food was fine, but the thing that really caught our attention was a “portrait” hanging on the wall next to the bar. It looked like any other period portrait of a man from maybe the 1700s or 1800s.
I was sitting facing it and at some point I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and glanced over –and the man in the portrait was moving. He moved every once in a while, doing simple gestures with a look on his face like – yes, you’re seeing what you think you’re seeing. We spent quite a bit of time trying to catch it in action with varying degrees of success. Something I’ve never seen before and definitely very fun.
(This seems to show up sideways in my previews, but when I click play -it straightens out. I hope you can see it correctly!)
Next we located a grocery store and grabbed some snacks for our rooms and then headed back to our hotel. We took a few pictures of interesting buildings along the way.
Mike and I decided to stop for a drink at our hotel’s riverside restaurant to enjoy the end of the day and the nice weather.
While sitting there, we saw a ladies rowing team practicing out on the river. I call anything this size a “dragon boat”. Dragon boat racing is something a lot of people aren’t familiar with, but it is quite popular around the world. Traditional dragon boat racing originated in China, over 2,000 years ago. A standard dragon racing canoe holds 18-20 paddlers, not including the person who steers the canoe and the person who beats the drum to set the pace.
The next morning, our main plan was to tour the castle and a bit of the town before we had to check out. We went to the castle, but it wasn’t open yet. I decided to walk across the street because there was a sign about the Kilkenny Design Center –so I thought maybe I could see some artsy stuff. I’m so glad I crossed the road! I didn’t really see much art (things weren’t open) other than a nice pottery studio, but the whole place was located in the original stables for the castle.
Going all the way through the two stable buildings, we saw the dower house. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a castle/estate that still had the dower house intact.
The dower house was used by the widow of an aristocrat if the heir was married. The mother-in-law (the dowager) would remove herself to the dower house so that the wife of her son could take her place as the mistress of the estate without her mother-in-law hovering. The garden was perfectly maintained.
The castle was very nicely done. The stone castle was built on the site in 1195 by the Earl of Pembroke. Kilkenny Castle was sold to James Butler, the 3rd Earl of Ormonde in 1391. In 1935 the (then) 5th Marquis of Ormonde (George Butler) sold the contents for 6,000 English Pounds and moved to London. The castle was left abandoned for the next 30 years. In 1967, Arthur Butler, Lord Ormonde, sold the castle to the people of Kilkenny for the ceremonial amount of 50 English Pounds. That was slightly less than 600 years in the same family. Amazing!
Since that time, there has been ongoing restoration of the castle. We took the tour (no photos allowed, alas) and they did have a small display of photos showing what some of the areas looked like before being fixed and I can say some miracles happened. It was interesting to see signs explaining stories like –a sample of the original wallpaper in one room was found behind a trim board so they were able to have it reproduced and the room redecorated with the original wallpaper design.
After our tour, we had just a little bit of time to walk around town before check out. Laura was looking for a few items and so we went with her. Gail wandered around and took more pictures.
Once again, time was up! We now were on a trajectory back to the Cork Airport by way of Waterford and Youghal (pronounced Yawl).