Tuesday, July 19–Kilkenny city, Co Kilkenny

Shorts; the Priory in Kells, Co Kilkenny; Kilkenny city; Kilkenny Medieval hop on, hop off bus tour; dinner, a bodhran lesson with Damian and live music from the Raglan Rogues at Kyteler's Inn

Newpark Hotel

Black VW Passat sedan



I did indeed take my laptop and Kindle Fire down to the Dooley's Hotel bar last night, where wifi worked fine on both of them. Somewhere around midnight I and one other person were asked to move into the hotel residents' lounge since they needed to actually close the bar for the night. The lounge is a large, comfortably decorated room right off the lobby to the hotel. When I first got there, there were a couple of smaller groups and a large family playing some kind of game but I just continued listening to the show I was watching on my Kindle Fire.

It was lovely for most of today, warm enough that I felt comfortable wearing shorts.

I got off to an early start, leaving my hotel in Waterford around 10 AM. There was only one place I wanted to stop between Waterford and here, the Priory in Kells, Co Kilkenny. This is an excellent example of finding somewhere to visit I had never even heard of before. It was only while looking at Kilkenny tourism's website about the city and area a day or two ago that I learned about the priory for the first time.

There are a couple of other cities in the area, such as Thomastown, that have their own attractions worth visiting but they are even further out of my route between Waterford and Kilkenny that I wasn't interested in going to any of them.

It's only about 45 minutes from Waterford to Kells. The Garmin as usual didn't list the priory but did list the city, so I figured I'd get to the city using it and look for signs for the priory once I got to the vicinity. This worked quite well but the priory was actually located earlier than the city. The roads were quite good, mostly real, wide, well paved and not too bumpy two lane roads with the rare bit through cities & towns through lovely rolling green countryside.

Because I'd never heard of it before, there are no links about the priory from my own list of Irish sites I put together in preparation for this trip, so here are a couple: http://www.visitkilkenny.ie/kells_priory and http://www.discoverireland.ie/Arts-Culture-Heritage/kells-priory/11172.

The priory was well worth the visit, being in a lovely setting in the Kilkenny countryside all around it. Part of the charm of visiting the site is the area immediately around it is actually a large sheep field which you have to walk through to get to the entrance. Entry for humans is through the two types of gates I've usually seen at other locations: one pivots with an entry that is just large enough for a person to get in, swing the gate over to the other side, then pass through the gate; the other is a sort of v shape a few inches off the ground. For some reason today, going through both types kind of reminded me of a Gary Larson "Farside" cartoon.

The whole area, including the outer perimeter walls which protected the priory's fields, is impressively large, although I don't know why that should surprise me.

Here are some definitions of some of the various types of monastic establishments--priory: a small monastery or nunnery governed by a prior or prioress, which ranks lower than an abbot or abbess; abbey--a monastery run by an abbot, or a convent run by an abbess

After Kells, there really wasn't anywhere I wanted to stop before my hotel here in Kilkenny. After I hit the town limits but before I got to the hotel I saw a bus from the Kilkenny Medieval bus tour and thought that would be worth doing this afternoon.

I arrived here at the hotel, the Newpark, too early for my room to be ready, so I had a pretty good lunch in the hotel's bar and asked at at reception about the bus tour. Tbey didn't know much about it, since the tour had only started a couple of weeks ago, but thought I had to go to the Kilkenny Castle to buy a ticket and get on the tour, so I walked into town. There's nothing in the immediate area and it's about a half an hour walk from the town center.

I don't know why I was suprised but on the road into town from the hotel is a military barracks.

I enjoyed what I saw of Kilkenny on the way to the castle, and liked the views from the bridges over the river (the Nore). On the way I saw a sign at a small ice cream shop that said they sold tickets for the medieval bus tour there but I didn't stop, having been told at the hotel that I needed to go to the castle. When I got to the castle I didn't see any signs for the tour, so I went in the castle and asked the guy checking that people had paid for the castle tour if he knew where I got on the Medieval bus tour. He didn't but suggested I check at the tourist information office around the corner and around the block. I did, and they told me that the small ice cream shop I had earlier passed was indeed where I had to buy the ticket so I went back there and did so, having some gelato while there of course because I had half an hour before the next tour bus.

The trip was fun and showed me a lot of Kilkenny and the surrounding area. I wasn't interested in the hop on, hop off part since I wanted to get back here to my hotel to check in and unpack before heading back downtown for the bodhran session at 6:30. If the weather's decent tomorrow, I'll go back into town and visit the two cathedrals and the castle before I leave for Tullamore which isn't that far away (supposedly an hour and a half).

Part of the fun of the tour is that it goes out into the countryside to two attractions some ways out of town, Dunmore Cave (which I had thought about visiting until I read about the "706 steep stairs to the three main chambers of the cave") and the Castlecomer Discovery Park which I'd never heard of before but looks like it has lots of activities for active families). The bus goes rocketing along country roads at speeds faster than I am comfortable driving them. I of course was in the open back part of the bus although I had to take my cap off and stuff it into my shirt to keep from losing it in the breeze.

I got off near the castle and found a cab to take me back here to my hotel fairly quickly. Since it was now between 4:00 PM and 4:30 I could check in. The first room they were going to assign me to was down a couple of corridors and down some steps and seemed way too far away from reception and the main entrance to the hotel where I'd be bringing my luggage in, so I didn't even make it to my original room but went directly back to reception and asked if they had anything not so far away that didn't involve steps and they did. I'm spending the night in a very nice room with a handicap accessible toilet but oddly enough not an accessible shower or tub.

I unpacked and around 6:15 went back to reception to ask them to call a cab for me to take me back to the town center for the bodhran session and for tonight's music.

Both were at the famous Kyteler's (pronounced kit-ler) Inn which is famous primarily for two reasons: there has been an business establishment, usually an inn or a tavern, continuously since it was founded in 1324; and its former owner, Dame Alice who was suspected of and tried for witchcraft which had resulted in the deaths of four successive husbands which had left her very wealthy. It's a marvelous building, and all the renovations recently have been to restore it to its original medieval feeling.

The cab driver actually drove down into the very narrow alley right by the place to let me off.

The bodhran session was quite fun and quite good (but it's no longer listed on Kyteler's weekly schedule. There were abouto 6 to 8 of us, and Damian gave us quick but good information about how to handle the stick and had us drumming some complex rhythms to several different kinds of songs with him. There was a kid next to me who had some seriously good rhythm skills.

After the session with Damian finished he played and sang a couple of numbers for us. I had some quite good bangers and some OK mashed potatoes for dinner before heading back downstairs for tonight's performers, who call themselves the Raglan Rogues. I can't find much about them online but several people seem to have posted video footage of them to YouTube. The Rogues are two older guys, maybe late 40s to 50s. One plays guitar and sings, the other plays mandolin and banjo and sings, and both of them are very good musicians and singers.

I had been able to snag a high bar table and stool that was right next to where they were going to be performing. They had three CDs for sale, 1 for 10 euros, and three for 20 euros, so of course I bought all three–and after tonight's session I think I got a very good bargain indeed.

I left a bit early because I wanted to get back here to my room before too late so I could plan out what I want to do and where I want to go tomorrow before driving to Tullamore and to type up my notes for today. As soon as I walked into the hotel, however, I heard a very good performer and singer in the hotel's very nice bar so I hung out to hear him long enough to have a piece of cheesecake and an Irish coffee.

It's now about 1:30 AM and time to wrap these notes up for tonight, send them to Michael, Tim, Renee and Kelly & get to bed.

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