This year I celebrated my birthday away from home for the first time in my life. Luckily, I didn’t celebrate alone! Saturday morn I was greeted by Ralf saying “happy birthday” to me! We left his flat early enough to catch the 9 a.m. bus to Kilkenny! It was a very dreary, chilly, hazy day (ergo the dark photos, sorry!), but at least it wasn’t raining.
We arrived there at 11 a.m. and headed straight for the castle. I managed to pass for a student so I paid less than half price to get in–felt good given that I had just turned 36 (I still can’t believe that I am 36. I certainly don’t feel it.)! The 13th century building went through many stages of development to become what it is today.
Unfortunately, they did not allow us to take photos inside. My favourite room was the Picture Gallery Hall. The ceiling of the hall was stunning; it was made to look like an inverted Viking boat. There was a very charming and well-informed man working there who was good enough to tell us all about the various portraits and to explain to me that the ceiling had Viking, Celtic and Aboriginal designs (from North America, although to me, it didn’t look as though it did). He asked me where I was from and whether I had any Irish blood (I am often asked that here) and when he found out that I was French Canadian, he put forward his best impression of de Gaulles’ very controversial “Vive le Québec libre”! He explained to me that there were some connections between some of the people portrayed in the hall and Canada. All in all, he was a very interesting man and I really enjoyed visiting the castle!
We were both famished after our tour of the castle so we wandered around for quite some time trying to find a quaint little restaurant (Ralf wasn’t in a soup and sandwich kind of mood), to no avail. There were mainly cafés and pubs where we were, so we settled for a very nice café which ended up having very good food. After lunch we went to visit Rothe House, which was built between 1594 and 1610. Rothe house is in fact a series of three houses and the garden in the back extends to part of the original city walls.
I enjoyed the garden and the bits in the courtyard between the houses too:
We went to check out the 13th century Saint Canice Cathedral but alas, it closed at 4 p.m. so we just admired it from the outside and enjoyed taking photos of the tower, which dates from the 9th century:
At the bottom of the stone wall above, we found some really nice urban art drawn on paper and glued to the wooden door:
After that, Ralf was feeling tired (he had not been feeling well for a week) so we went back to our b&b for a rest. Ralf gave me my birthday presents when we got there: a hilarious book entitled “A Year in the Scheisse: Getting to Know the Germans” and a lovely bottle of eau de toilette.
We went out to a Nepalese and Indian restaurant for my birthday supper and let me tell you, the food was outstanding; it was in fact the best chicken tikka masala I’d ever had and Ralf loved his lamb dish as well. After supper, we decided to go back to our b&b with a bottle of red wine, as we had to get up early the following day. As we were walking home, an elderly gentleman was walking towards me and he kept looking me in the eyes. Finally he said to me in the sweetest way: “are you OK? Are you looking for anything in particular?” I guess in such a small place it’s easy to spot a tourist even when they don’t have a camera around their neck!
Yesterday we only had a few hours to walk around the city and of course, it being a Sunday, everything was closed! We had a look at a really cool church that was still in use yet also partly in ruins:
We both love exploring graveyards and ruins so we took our time taking photos.
We then decided to just stroll along the streets and stopped for a coffee in order to wake Ralf up (it didn’t work)!
This made me laugh:
The city was not what I had imagined it would be but it was quite nice. The streets are very quiet and the city centre is quite big considering it has a population of around 8 860!
This was clearly from the same artist as above:
All in all, I felt that our trip to Kilkenny was too rushed; I would have needed another full day to see everything I would have liked to see, but I got a good taste of it. I could see myself living there for a while! As we walked to the bus stop to wait for our bus back to Dublin we realized that we had forgotten to have a Kilkenny beer!! Oops!