Wednesday, May 27, 2009



In contrast to the quiet village and rural splendor of Cong and Ashford Castle, Kilkenny is a lively, busy medieval town.  I recommend stopping at the tourist information centers anywhere in Ireland, but particularly in Kilkenny, the meeting place for a guided tour that will allow you to appreciate the town's rich, dual past.  As a dweller on the outskirts of a large metropolitan area, I enjoyed imagining two towns, side by side, experiencing medieval-style growing pains as they expanded into each other, echoed by our own area many times over.

The St. Canice's tower in Kilkenny turned out to be the only roundtower we found on our countrywide tour that gave visitors access to the interior and landing on  top.  The view is incredible, but the standing area is very narrow, so if you're nervous of heights, this place might give you the feeling of balancing on the top of a very long pole.  The neighboring church looks gorgeous from the tower top, but it has an even more exquisite interior.  I wished I'd brought blank newsprint--they might have given me permission to take rubbings of some of the tombs.  Worshippers and visitors have been walking on many of the church's memorials for centuries, so sadly, some of the inscriptions are so worn they can no longer be read.

Kilkenny Castle is furnished and gorgeous, and filled with artwork, including a modern gallery below.  Nearby, the Butler House marks the perimeter of an incredible marketplace with a gold smith, silver smith, dry goods store, restaurant and other businesses that have a soft, period feeling to them, as opposed to the modern shopping mall a short walk away that has all the usual suspects.  There are many other places to peruse in Kilkenny that have that same ancient feeling to them; restaurants, gardens, a farmer's market, an inn once owned by a reputed witch (and based on the stories, I'd say she may well have been, and a potent one at that!) and even a nursery that abuts the ruin of a church.  

This is a great place to visit when it's raining--plenty of things to do indoors.  If it happens to be sunny, though, all the better because there's a lovely riverwalk and extensive castle grounds.  It would be tough to decide where to have a picnic.  Might as well stay a few days and go to all of them.

Are you all green with envy yet?  Or orange?  Some people mentioned 'the troubles,' but not here in Kilkenny.  Someday I hope to go back to this peaceful, friendly town.


C.S. said...

This is wonderful! Keep 'em coming!

Kami said...

Oh, I'll definitely, happily blah blah blah about Ireland for quite a while! Thanks for reading!

The Moody Minstrel said...

Now I know why Kilkenny beer tastes so good! ;-)

Things that puzzle this other goddess.... said...

I'm green and orange and any other color you can name!

Kami said...

You've got the blood of a Celt--green, orange, blue, yellow, red, black all belong in the same place at the same time, don'chya know!