Back to my roots

Kilkenny– I have returned!

The road to Kilkenny. Some of our drives have been simply beautiful.


My most formative years were spent in Kilkenny, and so returning to the land of my youth was quite emotional for me.

What’s that? Oh, yeah, sure… heh heh. The Kilkenny I spent those years in was Kilkenny Drive in Lake Oswego, Oregon, but hey, can it be a coincidence that a country with a St. Kevin also named a town after the street I grew up on? I think not!

The day started with a drive to the Rock of Cashew, which is famous for having really hard nuts. At least that’s what I thought until I re-read it and saw that it was the Rock of Cashel. Cashel can be literally translated from: “castle, as pronounced when drunk,” and Rock means, “What you invariably hit your head on when you’re too drunk to even pronounce that.”

When seen from a distance, the castle is quite stunning. The Rock of Cashel refers to the rock on which this structure is built, not the music they were playing when they built it.


This is the Cross of St. Patrick. Cashel is reputed to be the site of the conversion of the pagan King of Munster by St. Patrick, way back in the 5th century. Centuries later, The Munsters recreated some of the hilarity of that time.


This is a reconstructed example of the kitchen they had back then. The microwave is in the far right corner, just out of the picture.

As usual for these kinds of castles, the view was stunning. 360 degrees and as far as the eye can see.


No, this isn’t the Door of the Day. But it’s a great door, next to the Wife of the Day. Well, all my remaining days anyway.


The castle is being protected and restored; the scaffolding is actually there to hold up a temporary roof they had to install in order to dry the place out.


Considering how old this is (the majority of buildings on the site date from the 12th and 13th centuries), the cathedral is quite impressive. A rope for a bell on top dangled through that hole, so they could let everyone know when the next Taco Bell grand opening was occurring.


Carolyn felt a little cross.


I see dead people. Actually, one of the stories about these graves we got from the tour guide was that by Irish law, gravestones are private property and cannot be touched by the government or anyone except the owner. The tall one at the left is from a family named Skully, and the Celtic cross that was on top was blown off in a storm. They can’t restore it unless a Skully comes forward as an heir and authorizes it. Vin? John? Are either of you Irish?


This gravestone dates back to 1748. Obviously a lot of them were illegible. Irish law allows the remaining descendants to also be buried here, but that’s it. Apparently there are about ten people left, and after that, the graveyard is closed. So in addition to tombs from 1748 and before, there are also current ones in the graveyard.


The abundance of Irish redheads is not a myth. These two cuties were climbing on a piece of the castle that was left in place after it crashed down during a storm, before they started making efforts to fix up the place. I couldn’t find the witch’s shoes underneath it, however. Probably looted.

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And here’s the slideshow of the remaining pix.

From there we drove to the town of Kilkenny, as mentioned, the street name on which I spent most of my teenage years.

You can’t really tell here, but the traffic on the “Medieval Mile” was very clogged. It almost took longer to drive from one end to the other than it did to walk it. The streets are narrow and just nothing about it is designed to handle two lanes of cars.


The highlight of Kilkenny is the Kilkenny Castle. Remarkably, it was essentially a private residence from its construction in 1195 all the way through to 1935, when it was more or less abandoned. It was then sold to the people of Kilkenny in 1967 for £50.


The view from inside the castle. Those are a couple of cathedrals in the distance. But you probably already guessed that.


This is the Hall of Portraits, which they needed before the invention of YouTube.


This is the way it actually looked in the 1800s. When you own a house for almost 800 years, your ancestors are bound to accumulate.



In that same room, they incorporated stereo fireplaces so you could hear the fire crackling in both ears. This was produced after they first attempted to make fireplace headphones, which failed disastrously.


This guy was named “Larry Long Arms.” To be honest, this was the first sign we had that the place wouldn’t have the luster of a Tower of London, or the ancient authenticity of Trim Castle.


Because the castle was used as a residence into the 1800s, some of the displays had a Downton Abbey-esque feel to them. I dared Carolyn to go sit on one of the chairs real quick for a great photo opp, but she wisely declined. Given the alarm notices posted all around, that was probably a good thing.


On the other hand, there was no alarm notice on this old toilet, so I took great offense that they chased me from the place when I decided to try it out.


I told them that based on the color of this wallpaper alone, I was already ready to take a hike anyway.

Seriously, the castle was just really so-so for us; it was sort of a combination of Kensington Palace in London and one of the old castles here. I guess we really like the ancient castle thing. So while it was interesting and we were glad we visited, it definitely ranked lowest on our list of favorite Irish castles.

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Here’s a slideshow of the rest of the pix.

In addition to the castle, Kilkenny features the aforementioned “Medieval Mile,” which is simply a charming collection of little shops all scrunched together along a too-narrow street for two lanes. At the opposite end of the mile from the castle, are a couple of cathedrals that are impressive. We arrived too late to get in to see anything inside, but here are the pix we took of them anyway.

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This is St. Canice’s Cathedral, also known as Kilkenny Cathedral. The present building dates from the 13th century and is the second longest cathedral in Ireland.

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The construction of Saint Mary’s was begun 1843 and finished in 1857.

Today we have three Doors of the Day, because they’re all cool in their own way.


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