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devil duck

Friday, 22 June: Kilkenny and Tipperary

Last night we had dinner at a sort of gastropub in Kilkenny. Decent food, and it's the first place we've been yet with an evening live-music show. It was three or four guys playing (variously) guitar, mandolin, harmonica, tin whistle, etc. and singing a mix of trad and trad-sounding songs.

Woke in the B&B in Kilkenny, had breakfast, checked out of the room, and walked a block away to Kilkenny Castle. Originally a wooden fort built by Strongbow, it was inherited by William Marshal (through his wife, Strongbow's heir), who replaced it with a trapezoidal stone castle. It abruptly became a U-shaped castle when Oliver Cromwell's artillery knocked down one of the four sides. The resident noble family finally abandoned it in 1935, then sold what remained of the building to the landmarks commission in 1995. A multi-million-pound restoration project aimed at restoring it to its Victorian glory, and much of the castle is now furnished in 19th-century style (although one can still see some of the medieval foundations).

Down the road is St Canice's Cathedral, which was built (IIRC) in the 12th or 13th century, except for the adjacent round tower which dates to the 9th century. St Canice's is among other things the final resting place of Bishop Richard Ledrede, compiler of the Red Book of Ossory (a 14th-century "filk book", full of sacred lyrics "to be sung to the tune of" various well-known pop tunes, only one of which survives). I got a photo of his tomb effigy, as well as of several other tomb effigies which are consistently dressed at least a hundred years behind the fashions: double-pointed hennins and V-necked gowns in the late 16th century? We also climbed the round tower and took a few photos from the top.

In case you can't read the caption on this effigy, it reads

The Tomb of Honorina Grace
Who died in 1596
daughter of John Grace (tomb in N. aisle)
Note the heavily embroidered girdle, lace headdress, rings on the fingers and voluminous sleeves all denoting wealth and refinement.

honorina grace effigy


Another couple who died in the 16th century wearing 15th century clothes:
16c couple effigies


Effigy of Richard Ledrede:
richard ledrede effigy


St Canice's Cathedral from the outside, with the adjacent round tower (several hundred years older than the cathedral building):
st canice with tower


We climbed to the top of this round tower and took some photos of Kilkenny from above, including this one of an apparently medieval church ruin surrounded by industrial yard.
ruin in industrial yard


We also visited the bathrooms at St Canice's:
temple of hygeine


Then drove on to the Rock of Cashel, which was the seat of a series of feuding Kings of Munster until 1101, when the guy who had just grabbed it from his rivals donated it to the Church, thus effectively keeping it out of his rivals' hands and ingratiating himself with the Church. What had been chosen as a highly defensible castle became a highly defensible cathedral for several hundred years, until a 17th-century bishop got tired of living in a castle with six-foot-thick walls and one fireplace in the whole building, on top of a rock that catches every wind in Ireland, so he moved first his residence, and then the Cathedral, down the hill and abandoned the old cathedral site.

The cathedral really is on top of a rock, and it's a steep walk up to it.
cashel cathedral from below
Some of the stone carvings they've brought indoors for their protection:
winged lion carving
griffin and oliphant
The reconstructed chamber of the Vicars Choral:
vicars choral chamber

The second-oldest building on the site (IIRC) is Cormac's Chapel, dating to the 12th century. A lot of gorgeous Romanesque carvings and paintings survive in tantalizing fragmentary states:
cormac's chapel
Cormac's chapel arch paintings
Cormac's chapel blind arches
Cormac's chapel heads
Cormac's chapel ceiling paintings
Cormac's chapel sarcophagus
The Cashel cathedral is nothing to sneer at either.
Cashel cathedral nave
Did I mention it's on top of a rock, way above the surrounding countryside?
view from rock of cashel
A zoomed version of the previous picture shows Hore Abbey, a 13th-century Cistercian abbey down the hill.
Hore Abbey from Cashel
Naturally, we couldn't miss the opportunity to visit another medieval ruin -- which, like so many historic sites in Ireland, is in the middle of a cow or sheep pasture.
Hore Abbey in cow pasture
Hore Abbey windows
Many of the medieval ruins we visited had these sorts of crazy patterns on the walls. For the most part they're just random-looking swirls, presumably the remains of plaster dissolving unevenly, but this one has some definite roof-like patterns in it.
plaster patterns at Hore Abbey
Rock of Cashel from Hore Abbey



After leaving the Rock of Cashel, we headed west towards Limerick (albeit largely on small country roads). In some nameless town in County Tipperary, we got hungry and stopped at a kebab house, then ate our gyros on a picnic table on an island in the middle of a lovely little river. The medieval ruin is the remains of a Norman guard tower, recently repurposed as a 20th-century monument to Irish solidarity (between the descendants of Celts and the descendants of Normans, against the Sassenach common foe).
lunch spot in Tipperary
river in Tipperary


Enough of that. We're in a B&B in Adare, just outside Limerick.

room in Adare
view from room in Adare
Steve in room at Adare

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