Ireland Recap Day 8: Waterford, Kilkenny, and Cashel

There was really only a handful of things I wanted to do and planned for when we went to Ireland, one of them was taking Jen to see the Waterford Crystal Factory. Jen, Stephanie, Dave and myself packed up and hit the road. Ann and Roger where going to drive out to see some of the ring forts on the Ring of Kerry we had seen the day before. Both groups discussed going to see the Rock of Cashel later in the day, but without cell phones there was no way to coordinate this, so we planned to meet for dinner or drinks later that night. Waterford is no short journey being a good 2 hours away from Killarney (on a good day with a breeze to your back) unless you get stuck behind a trailer hauling a horse. Since two lane routes in Ireland are almost non-existent, if you get stuck behind a slow moving vehicle on a busy route, you may be there for a while. We managed to pass the trailer a few kilometers outside of Lismore where we had to stop for fuel. Getting back on the road we noticed a few cars ahead of us was the same horse trailer. It was just not our day on the road and we arrived in Waterford an hour later then we wanted to. On the plus side, the Crystal Factory was very easy to find and tours start quite frequently. The tour is only about an hour and takes you through a working factory showing glass blowing, inspection, marking, etching, custom carving/molding and hand engraving. The tour ends up at the factory store (how convenient) which is stocked with many items you may not find in the states. We shopped for a few small trinkets and had lunch at the visitor center cafeteria (very big cookies to be had).

Still running behind schedule, we headed north to Kilkenny to see Kilkenny Castle, a fully furnished 17th century castle. Tours are limited in size and fill up fast. When we arrived in Kilkenny we managed to get lost, yet again. but soon recovered after a nice petrol station clerk pointed us in the proper direction. Parking is not very easy either, but we finally made it to the castle. The tour was at least 45 minutes from starting and it was already late in the day. We opted to skip the tour this time and take some pictures around the grounds (btw, cameras and bags are not allowed inside the castle) since we also still wanted to get to Cashel. When leaving Kilkenny, we noticed this giant black limestone statue/head/bust on Parliament St. We don't know who it was supposed to be a monument to, but there were people gathered around touching it. I think the conversation in the car went something like this:

Stephanie: Why are they touching that head
Dave: Maybe candy comes out of it
Craig: Ooo, maybe giant size pez, like the size of a brick
Jen: I want one of those

I guess you had to be there, but trust me, it was a comedy moment that had me gasping for breath I was laughing so hard.

Onwards to Cashel! Being disappointed by not taking the Kilkenny Castle tour and running late in general, we drove to Cashel. Any disappointment we had would soon be forgotten when we saw The Rock of Cashel looming in the distance. We parked the car and ran to it like kids in a toy store. The ruins are absolutely amazing as is the surrounding countryside. While exploring the main cathedral, we ran into Anne and Roger (we even parked right next to their car and did not notice). We were all quite surprised to see each other and had a good time describing the adventures we had that day. We took a lot of time exploring the grounds as there is so much to see. We eventually closed the place down before heading over to the Hore Abbey (yup, that's spelled correctly), located near the base of the Rock. There is no admission to get into the Abbey, and really not much as for as information. You can explore it extensively though (I do love history you can go up to and touch). We explored the grounds for a bit before the sun started to get lower to the horizon. We found a nice and cheap restaurant in Cashel before heading back to the vehicles and back to Killarney (still about 2 hours away). Anne and Roger headed straight back while the rest of us made a quick detour to Tipperary. It was only about twenty kilometers away (not a long, long way at all) so we had to drive through so at least we could say we'd been to Tipperary. We eventually got back to the hotel and had a pint before sleep could no longer be held at bay.

Pictures of the days adventure can be found here

Day 9 Preview: Muckross Abbey, Torq Waterfalls, Stone Druid Circle