Wednesday, July 20–Tullamore, Co Offally

Where's the B&B and which is my room?; wandering around Tullamore; dinner at Eddie Rocket's; a pint at Eugene Kelly's pub

Tudor Lodge B&B

Black VW Passat sedan



Although I really liked the Newpark Hotel itself and my room last night, the shower was in a soaker tub which made it higher than I really like, and although there was plenty of hot water the water pressure was pretty bad which was surprising considering how nice and new the hotel itself is.

I got off to a slow start today because of some stomach problems which began immediately after having breakfast in the hotel–it's as if my digestion rebelled after eating one more breakfast of scrambled eggs and sausages. I'd checked out of my room before breakfast and so I just sat around in the hotel's lovely lobby until around 1:30 when I felt my stomach might be enough back to normal to drive to Tudor Lodge, my B&B here in Tullamore for two nights, instead of going back into Kilkenny town center to see any of the sites I'd planned to. I didn't stop at any of the few places to get something to eat in between there and here or even have one of my Slimfasts, that's how uncertain I was about my earlier stomach problems.

There wasn't much to see on the trip from there to here. The route was on mostly two lane, nicely paved, relatively wide highways most of the time with the occasional usual bits going through towns none of which were particularly memorable. The scenery was rolling green hills of farmland.

One of the problems staying at B&Bs is coordinating arrival when someone will be there. I should have called here yesterday (although since I was delayed due to stomach problems that wouldn't have helped) or when I left my hotel.

I think this time Google Maps might have been a little off with the location of the B&B or possibly I pulled over a couple of minutes too early. Now I can't remember if it said "You have arrived" or "You have arrived at your destination on the right" but when I looked around after stopping at a small nursing home when I was told I'd arrived I didn't see the B&B. I called all three numbers I found for the B&B when I looked it up again on my Irish Android smart phone before a girl answered and when I said I didn't see the B&B she passed the phone to a guy who stayed on the phone while I walked a couple of minutes further up the street until I could see the sign for the B&B & the house itself. He let me in, showed me to a room with a double bed but no desk, and disappeared.

It was an hour or so later before anyone else came back, and in that case it was the son of the owners. He decided to put me in the room where I am now, which has two twin beds but has a nice desk which is where my laptop is. Oddly enough the last time I slept in a twin bed was in the B&B in Ft William, Scotland, five years ago. It's a nice enough room, I really like the desk, and it's only for two nights so I can sleep on a twin bed for that long.

Anyway, Jason–the son–apologized and said that everyone had gone off getting measured for their clothes for a wedding and his mom, Marie, would be home in about half an hour and she was and I liked her. She offered to have me move back into the room with the double bed but no desk but I thanked her and said I'd stay in this room because I like the desk.

Neither Jason or Marie could find a map of Tullamore when I asked. Although it's the county seat it's really quite a small town and apparently no one usually comes here for long since the main attraction in the town itself is the Tullamore Dew visitors center and tour. I think I'll skip the distillery tour but might check out the gift shop Friday on the way out of town.

There is a castle here, Srah, and a church, St Mary's of the Assumption, that are supposed to be pretty nice as well, so when I leave Friday I think I'll check out those two places as well as the TDVC. The church & the visitors centre are about a 5 minute walk away, and the castle's about a 5 minute drive away from there.

The main reason for staying here in Tullamore, other than the TDVC, having to do business with the county, or being or visiting a patient at the regional medical center is its proximity to other historical sites. More on that a bit later.

Today was quite a bit cooler than it was yesterday, probably the high 60s, so after meeting Marie I unpacked a bit and changed from my shorts back into my jeans before walking into the town center. Tudor Lodge is in an interesting location. There's a huge field behind the property and another beside it, and there's another more overgrown field right next door which has a couple of Celtic crosses. About five minutes up the street away from town, at the next major intersection, is a small branch of Centra which is a pretty good little store. On the way towards town from here is the site of a possible new sports facility and current tennis center, the small nursing home I had stopped nearby when I thought Google Maps had told me I was at my destination, the regional hospital, and a large sports stadium before you get to the small canal or stream that passes through town. Across the bridge is TDVC and the rest of the town. I wandered around looking for possible places to eat dinner and possibly to listen to some Irish traditional music tonight.

Right across the bridge is Eugene Kelly's Old World pub which had a sign out front saying there will be live music tomorrow night. Marie had not been able to help much when I'd asked her about where to find some music–she said they don't normally go out except on the weekends. I had heard that Bridge House, which is a hotel/restaurant/pub, has live music almost every night so I was going to see what was going on there.

I enjoyed wandering around Tullamore. It has lots of interesting looking shops, several cafes & restaurants, at least one shopping center I went past, and a large number of pubs and taverns many of which looked pleasant. I have to confess that tonight I had dinner at the local outlet of Eddie Rocket's, which is another Irish chain of old American themed diners. I wanted to have something relatively light, such as soup & a sandwich, and had their very good bacon & egg sandwich plus a very small serving of pretty good coleslaw.

I went past the Bridge House to see what kind of music they had tonight and it wasn't Irish traditional so I wasn't even interested in stopping for a beer there. I kept walking back up the street to the small bridge and Eugene Kelly's pub which is an older, somewhat cluttered and dim but very nice place. The music tomorrow night will be in the larger lounge instead of the smaller bar, I think. I stopped in and had a pint, and most of the few people who were there were watching some sports match that seemed to have been recorded earlier. By now it was getting late and my knees hurt a bit so I asked the owner to call a cab for me to take me the short ride back up the hill to here.

It's now about 12:30 AM so I'm going to close up pretty soon.

I mentioned earlier that Tullamore is quite suitable as a base for exploring other sites of historical or other interest in the surrounding area. In one direction is the town of Birr with its castle and other features, but I'm not heading that way tomorrow. If you go the other direction and make a bit of a circuit it's possible to visit the following places–the ancient monastic site of Clonmacnoise, which is supposed to be one of the most beautiful and intersting of such sites in the country (45 minutes from here at the most); the town of Athlone, with its castle and the church of St Peter and St Paul (30 minutes from Clonmacnoise); the town of Clara with the Bog Village interpretive center (20 minutes from Athlone); and the small town of Durrow, with its equally famous monastic site which is where another of Ireland's great illustrated manuscripts was produced as well as St Colmcille's church (20 minutes from Clara) and then back here to Tullamore, my B&B and some music at Eugene Kelly's tomorrow night (15 minutes from Durrow to here).

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