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Ireland Road Trip – Kilkenny and the Rock of Cashel

by Suzanne Fluhr on August 8, 2012 · 39 comments

Traditional Celtic Cross from Graveyard Rock of Cashel

Since I have already thoroughly unburdened myself about the terror induced by driving on the “wrong side” of the road in Ireland in my last post, I can move on and explain why, like childbirth, it was totally worth it.

Route of Our Irish Road Trip (More or Less)

Route of Our Irish Road Trip (More or Less)

There was a time in our lives when we had more time than money. “More” money being a relative term, I would now put us somewhere between impecunious students and, say, Bill Gates.  Since one of us still has an intense day job, on our travels, we know when we will arrive and when we have to leave.  We only get to fill in our itinerary for between those dates.

After my husband Steve’s conference in Dublin, we had seven nights before we had to be back at Dublin Airport for our flight to Copenhagen.  So that we would not be caught having to sleep in a hostel dorm room (or in our car) or having to spend a week’s travel budget for one night, we I planned ahead.  I consulted the Rick Steve’s Ireland book, the TripAdvisor website for Bed and Breakfast (B & B) places and sought advice from a friend who is married to an Irish guy.  The itinerary on the above map shows the approximate route I mapped out for us.  The map does not show that the B & B’s I reserved for us tended to be a bit of a hike out of town, usually up a hill. Let’s just say that consistent with our reputations as Mr. and Mrs. Excitement, I traded being in the center of things for peace and quiet—and some exercise.

Although we felt very proud of ourselves for having printed out driving directions from Google Maps to each day’s destination and we bought a 75 page detailed Irish road atlas, we ended up being very happy that we had a GPS enabled smart phone that helped get us back on track when the Irish faeries were messing with our American minds about where to turn.  Our first stop was Kilkenny, 75 miles southwest of Dublin.

Kilkenny Castle from the road in Kilkenny, Ireland

Kilkenny Castle from the Road Into Town

After checking in at Dunmorin, our B&B, we hiked walked into town and located the tourist office where we reserved a walking tour. We fortified ourselves with tea and scones while we waited for our guide who explained that Kilkenny had been a medieval capital.  The facades of medieval buildings still stand on the main road through town. There had been a castle/fortification at the site of the current castle since 1172.  However, the oldest standing building in Kilkenny dates from the 9th century and is the Celtic Christian round tower next to Saint Canice’s Cathedral.  The Gothic cathedral itself was built in the 13th century.

St. Canice's Cathedral and Round Tower, Kilkenny, Ireland

St. Canice’s Cathedral and Round Tower, Kilkenny, Ireland

That evening we had our first (and actually, also our last) pub food dinner at a place recommended by the owner of our B&B.  As with all meals we had in Ireland, we had a choice of a dry Irish brown soda bread or white bread to accompany our meal.  I figured that it would be appropriate to order the Irish stew in an Irish pub and it was quite tasty.  Dinner was accompanied by an over-amplified duo with good voices singing Irish folk music.  For the rest of our trip, I could not stop humming Wild Irish Thymemuch to Steve’s annoyance.  (Yes, that’s a link to Wikipedia (this is a blog post, not a thesis).  This particular entry has a link to audio of the song.)

The next day, we set off for Kinsale.  On the way, we stopped at one of the more impressive set of ecclesiastical ruins in Ireland, the Rock of Cashel. Defense was obviously a big determinant of where to build back in the day, and this site, with a sweeping view of the Plain of Tipperary, had been the seat of the kings of Munster starting sometime in the 4th century. It is thought that St. Patrick himself baptized King Aengus here in 450 A.D. The current buildings on the site include a round tower dating from 1101 and the oldest Romanesque church in Ireland, consecrated in 1134.  However, the most imposing ruins are those of a Gothic cathedral built between 1230 and 1290.  As with so many Catholic churches in Ireland, it survived until the forces of Oliver Cromwell (not a nice man in Ireland) attacked in 1647 and burned it with hundreds of townspeople inside.

Ruined Gothic Cathedral-Rock of Cashel, Ireland

12th Century Round Tower and 13th Century Ruined Gothic Cathedral, Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary, Ireland

Traditional Celtic Cross from Graveyard Rock of Cashel

Traditional Celtic Cross from Graveyard Next to Ruined Cathedral, Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary, Ireland

We left the Rock of Cashel impressed by the majesty of the place even in ruins and headed for our next stop, the  strategic port town of Kinsale. (Come along if you want to know what the Spanish Armada has to do with Ireland).

Tell us about your favorite road trip.  Comment below.

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Steven Albelda August 11, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Sounds like a great trip so far. I love the pictures.


Just One Boomer August 11, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Yes, the photos are lovely. I wonder who took them. 😉


Madaline Fluhr August 11, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Am enjoying the photos and the “wee” bit of history ya include in yer tale….(can you catch the whiff of an Irish accent in my comment??” As my travel itinerary would look more like a “where are the Motel 6”s” I am enjoying traveling with you and Steve vicariously and classing it up a bit!! Can’t get past the “tea and scones” as I am a total sucker for “tea and scones” or anything in that dept….Gift idea hint- “Gift certificate to a fancy tea” – doesn’t have to be in England or Ireland! Looking forward to Part II….


Just One Boomer August 11, 2012 at 7:51 pm

It’s not just the scones. It’s the scones with clotted cream and jam. It’s why I’m back on Weight Watchers.


Roz Warren August 12, 2012 at 1:23 am

What Steve said.


Nancy August 13, 2012 at 4:09 pm

I am really enjoying following you and your husband on this Irish driving adventure. Thanks for sharing lots of good information/links as well. Can’t wait to read what’s next!


The Local Traveler NS August 14, 2012 at 10:35 am

There is nothing like being able to extend a work trip, especially if it takes you to Ireland. Sounds like you had a great trip!


Just One Boomer August 15, 2012 at 6:29 am

Thanks for the comment. A visit to Nova Scotia and the Maritimes is on our Bucket List and now I know where to look for reliable information!


Kerry Dexter August 14, 2012 at 12:27 pm

I’ll be interested to read about the other discoveries on your trip, as well. came your way through your comment at A Traveler’s Library, by the way.


Just One Boomer August 15, 2012 at 4:57 am

Thanks for checking out Boomeresque. We enjoyed three nights of Irish traditional music on our trip.


Miss K August 14, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Those photos are gorgeous! I’ve only been to Ireland once and wasn’t crazy about Dublin but loved how green the countryside was. Your pictures are making me want to go back.

Which bread did you end up preferring?


Just One Boomer August 15, 2012 at 4:29 am

I actually found Irish soda bread to be kind of dry–improved by slathering on butter, but I’ve been trained to believe that butter is on the road to perdition, so I was much more fond of the lovely green countryside than the bread.


Just One Boomer August 15, 2012 at 6:31 am

I see from your blog that you are visiting Paris. If Irish bread and French bread were to go head to head in the Bread Olympics, France would get the gold medal!


Irene Mountford August 16, 2012 at 10:56 am

Hi Suzanne, The only soda bread worth eating is straight from the oven which is why I make some if I want some. Easy to drive on the other side of the road since from Monday I’ll be doing it, It’s getting out of the airport that’s the problem!! Great pictures of the Emerald Isle Enjoyed reading it.


Just One Boomer August 16, 2012 at 11:44 am

Thanks for the tip on the soda bread. Will you be visiting the USA to drive on the “other” side?


Irene Mountford August 16, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Yes, my annual trip to Philly, heading up to pine grove first, hope to see your Mom before returning.


Alyson August 8, 2013 at 1:53 am

Ah yes! Memories flooding back, I did a very similar road trip about 20 years ago, when I lived in Wales, it was a great trip. Now I want a cream tea, I wonder if you can get them in Laos ( for that is where we are).


Suzanne Fluhr August 8, 2013 at 2:19 am

We have a hard time even finding a reasonably priced cream tea in the United States.


Mike August 8, 2013 at 1:49 pm

I have not been to Ireland, Suzanne, but I do have a lot of Irish in me! Btw…I’m a huge fan of Rick Steves. I’ve always been so infatuated with those old castles. Do you know what the Round Tower at St Canince’s Cathedral was used for? A lookout tower I assume? It boggles my mind to it being 900 years old!


Vanessa Jane Holburn August 8, 2013 at 3:28 pm

At least they drive pretty slowly in Ireland (and even pull over happily if they sense you might be in a hurry)! I can’t imagine driving on the ‘wrong’ side in London or any other English city you aren’t familiar with – particularly as it’s the right side for me, and I still don’t like it!!!!!


Linda ~ Journey Jottings March 17, 2014 at 7:27 am

The history, the countryside and the hospitality of Irish Pubs all add up to a great Irish experience – And you even got to see some blue sky!!!
I love the Celtic Cross design – Organic and flowing 🙂


Suzanne Fluhr March 17, 2014 at 10:52 pm

Linda, with your artist’s eye, I’m not surprised you liked the Celtic cross. There is something very mystical about the old Irish designs.


Irene S. Levine March 17, 2014 at 8:47 am

A very timely and interesting post!


Suzanne Fluhr March 17, 2014 at 10:54 pm

Irene, now that we have had the chance to visit Ireland, I’m always drawn back there on St. Patrick’s Day. Here I am this year, living in Honolulu, HI on March 17th, wearing a teal T-shirt, the closest I can come to Kelly green in my closet here.


Jackie Humphries Smith March 17, 2014 at 10:10 am

By now you know we love road trips, so this would be just perfect no matter how much time we had. We are the types though that do travel “where the winds blow us” and ‘with a map in the lap’ so using a GPS isn’t on our radar. Love the route you mapped out though and having just eaten last week at the closest thing to an Irish pub we could find in Washington State, I am envious of your week long eating opportunities!! Begora – Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you.


Suzanne Fluhr March 17, 2014 at 10:56 pm

Jackie, I’d love to try a “wind blown” road trip adventure some time, but since we never have unlimited time for our travel, advance planning is our modus operandi for the time being. I also have the world’s worse sense of direction (actually, my sister’s is even worse!), so the fact that GPS technology is now available to the masses has lessened my travel stress level considerably.


Donna Janke March 17, 2014 at 1:52 pm

Sound like a wonderful drive through Ireland. I like your photos, particularly the one of the Gothic cathedral. The background is how I always imagine Ireland.


Suzanne Fluhr March 17, 2014 at 10:58 pm

Donna, the intense, but differing shades of green and stone grays of the Irish countryside are very compelling.


Patti March 17, 2014 at 5:43 pm

Road trip and Ireland, what a great combination. When we visited New Zealand we had to drive on the “wrong” side of the road and the part I found the most difficult to deal with was the turn signals and windshield wipers, because they were on the “wrong” side as well! So many places in this world I’d love to see!


Suzanne Fluhr March 17, 2014 at 10:59 pm

Patti, yes, there was a lot of windshield wiper turning on when Steve meant to be using a turn signal during our Irish road trip as well. I kept my amusement at this to myself since I would never even have had the courage to get behind the wheel — on the wrong side.


Nancie March 17, 2014 at 7:49 pm

I have always love how green and lush Ireland appears to be. Your photos are gorgeous.


Patti Morrow March 17, 2014 at 9:45 pm

I’ve been to England and Scotland, but sadly haven’t made it to Ireland…yet. I love the photo of Kilkenney Castle. It has a certain ethereal feel to it. I’ll have to go back and read your post about driving on the “wrong” side of the road, because that always freaks me out!


Suzanne Fluhr March 17, 2014 at 11:01 pm

Patti, the only reason I was willing to be in a car on the wrong side was to be able to see the beautiful and evocative Irish countryside.


Viv and Jill March 19, 2014 at 2:44 pm

You took a very similar road trip through this area as we did, Suzanne. So many beautiful places around Kilkenny and Cashel.


Doreen Pendgracs March 20, 2014 at 8:54 am

I’ve read a lot of posts on Ireland this week in celebration of St. Paddy’s Day. Would love to go there sometime and visit the Guinness Storehouse. They have some of the best chocolate truffles in the world! Thx for the post and great pics.


Cacinda Maloney March 24, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Beautiful piece about Ireland, I have been to many of those places mentioned and I cannot say enough about what a wonderful country it is: The food, the dance and of course, the people are wonderful!


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