Unforgetabble Ireland : Blarney, Rock of Cashel and Kilkenny

My plan for the 5th day (Thr Jun 18th) was sort of open-ended. Out of the many interests, Crowley Castle, Blarney, Cobh, Kinsale, Youghal (Cork County), Waterford Factory (Waterford County), Rock of Cashel (Tipperary County) and Kilkenny (Kilkenny County), we realized a few, Blarney, Rock of Cashel and Kilkenny.

Even though there isn’t much left to see anymore, the first thing we had planned for Cork had been to visit the ruin of Crowley Castle. Unfortunately we couldn’t get in touch with our contact in Cork who was supposed to give us access to the site. After a last attempt to call our contact and failed again to get any answer, we left Kenmare around noon.

Blarney

In 1 hour and 50 minutes, we reached Blarney Castle, 11km (6.82miles) west of Cork City. The mighty stone castle was built in mid 15th century by McCarthy, King of Munster. The main frame of the castle keep is still standing tall and strong but with all its trappings and trimming stripped, the interior is now bare and empty. In these days the castle is best known to the tourist for its Blarney Stone, a piece of stone in the battlement part of the castle that one can kiss and hopefully gain gift of gab or eloquence.

Eastern side of Blarney Castle

Eastern side of Blarney Castle

The Blarney Stone is way up on the top

The Blarney Stone is way up on the top

My husband’s turn to kiss Blarney Stone

My husband’s turn to kiss Blarney Stone

Where the kitchen used to be

Where the kitchen used to be

The banquet hall used to be on this top floor

The banquet hall used to be on this top floor

Narrow, spiraling staircase

Narrow, spiraling staircase

We found in the garden this giant tree shaped like a candelabra

We found in the garden this giant tree shaped like a candelabra

House, not open to the public at the time

House, not open to the public at the time

Driving through Cork

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Rock of Cashel

The first view of Rock of Cashel from the parking lot excites you. At south east corner towards the entrance, the sight of massive grey stone buildings looming over a stout wall atop rugged rocks stirs you. Then as you ascend and enter the rock surrounded by the sturdy, circular wall, overlooking fields, meadows and villages all around that are dwarfed by the towering buildings, you fully appreciate the rock’s outstanding position and understand why it was fought over by local clans for over hundreds of years.

Rock of Cashel, a rocky plateau rising high above the plains of Tipperary County, was once the seat of kings of Munster, where St. Patrick baptized King Aengus in 5th century. In 12th century it was given to the church and became the seat of an archbishop and important religious center in Ireland till mid 17th century, when it was ruined by Cromwelian army and eventually abandoned in 18th century. The buildings remaining on the rock include Round Tower from 1100, Cormac’s Chapel from 1127-1134, the Cathedral from 1235 to 1270, archbishop’s Castle and hall of the Vicars Choral from 15th century.

Rock of Cashel from parking lot

Rock of Cashel from parking lot

Rock of Cashel from its south east corner

Rock of Cashel from its south east corner


The outer building on the left is Hall of Vicars Choral, where the entrance to the site is located on the far end.
Museum of artifacts including original St. Patrick’s Cross in the undercroft of Hall of Vicars Choral

Museum of artifacts including original St. Patrick’s Cross in the undercroft of Hall of Vicars Choral

Hall of Vicars Choral was built in 15th century

Hall of Vicars Choral was built in 15th century


Among the others in the Hall, the former dormitory is now a video room showing a documentary film of the site.
The Cathedral from south west

The Cathedral from south west


The Cathedral was built between 1235 and 1270. The building on the left is the Castle, which was converted from the end of the nave in 1400’s and shortened the shorter than average nave further more.
Cathedral Interior

Cathedral Interior

Hore Abbey, a Cistercian monastery from 1272, is located northwest outside the wall

Hore Abbey, a Cistercian monastery from 1272, is located northwest outside the wall

Round tower (28 meters or 90 feet) from 1100

Round tower (28 meters or 90 feet) from 1100


Around the buildings on the rock is the graveyard.
Cormac's Chapel and a replica of St. Patrick’s Cross

Cormac's Chapel and a replica of St. Patrick’s Cross


The chapel of King Cormac III of Munster was begun in 1127 and consecrated in 1134.
Chapel interior

Chapel interior

Rock of Cashel from the east

Rock of Cashel from the east


While driving away, I accidentally turned around and found this spectacular view of the rock.

Kilkenny

Kilkenny of Kilkenny County is one of those small but profoundly historic towns. Aside from the lovely township, there are Kilkenny Castle, St Francis Abbey, Black Abbey, St Mary’s Cathedral and Saint Canice’s Cathedral where we unexpectedly discovered Bishop John Kearney’s tombstone, who was great-great grand uncle (6th generation) to President Obama.

We arrived Kilkenny at about 7:45PM (Thr Jun 18th), had a lovely dinner in town and spent the next morning sightseeing.

Rosquil House

We spent one night at Rosquil House on Castlecomer Road, a quiet residential neighborhood in northeast part of the city. The location is peaceful and the room is nice.

For breakfast the next morning, Rhonda, the owner, garnished the hot plate with some parsley. The delightful aroma from the parsleys got my attention and subsequently noticed they were smaller and curlier than the ones I am used to. After a little chit chat with Rhonda, I learnt the parsleys were from her own garden, picked right that morning. They are Curled Parsley, slightly different from Plain Italian Parsley that is more common in the states. That is still the most aromatic parsley I’ve ever smelled.

Our room at Rosquil House

Our room at Rosquil House

Rosquil House’ front

Rosquil House’ front

Sitting room

Sitting room

Lobby

Lobby

Breakfast room

Breakfast room

Owners Rhonda and Phil’s huge but gentle Labrador

Owners Rhonda and Phil’s huge but gentle Labrador

Kilkenny Town

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Emerald Garden is a Chinese Restaurant in Kilkenny’s town center

Emerald Garden is a Chinese Restaurant in Kilkenny’s town center

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Emerald Garden’s interior

Emerald Garden’s interior

Our dinner at Emerald Garden

Our dinner at Emerald Garden


We started with a steaming Wonton soup with shreds of Shanghai Boy Choy floating in it. For entree, my husband had spicy chicken with mixed veggie and I had fried Tofu with mixed veggie. It was delicious!

St Canice’s Roman Catholic Church

St Canice's Roman Catholic Church

St Canice's Roman Catholic Church

Church interior

Church interior

St Canice’s statue at the front yard

St Canice’s statue at the front yard

St Canice’s Cathedral

St Canice’s Cathedral (1202 to 1285 AD) and its round tower (849 AD)

St Canice’s Cathedral (1202 to 1285 AD) and its round tower (849 AD)

Bishop John Kearney Tombstone, West End

Bishop John Kearney Tombstone, West End


Bishop John Kearney was great-great grand uncle (6th generation) to President Obama.
A grand cathedral

A grand cathedral

East End window depicts scenes from the life of Christ

East End window depicts scenes from the life of Christ

Greens Bridge and River Nore from top of Round Tower

Greens Bridge and River Nore from top of Round Tower


The challenge to climb the 100ft tall Round Tower via a cramped spiral staircase was magnified by the gutsy wind the day we were there. A lady tourist from US stopped at the last landing right before the top and was calling her two sons to come down. I quickly felt her concern myself at the sound of the howling wind and the occasional strong drafts. But it was too close to not finish it. We made it to the top and encouraged the lady to follow. She eventually did and stayed a moment, just long enough for me to take a photo for all 3 of them. The wind was strong up there and I had to exert to steady myself. But it was absolutely worth the climb for the view up there was rewarding.
St Mary’s Cathedral from Round Tower

St Mary’s Cathedral from Round Tower

Kilkenny Castle from Round Tower

Kilkenny Castle from Round Tower

Black Abbey from Round Tower

Black Abbey from Round Tower

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