Thursday, 23 April 2015

On Good Friday (3 April), Krystal and I took the train to the medieval city of Kilkenny. After missing the first train by about fifteen minutes, we decided to grab a bite of fast food, as the next train was not scheduled in for another hour and a half. Funnily enough, given the extra time we had, we still managed to be nearly too late for the next train as well. We literally ran down the length of the platform and hopped on the train not a minute before it started to move. I have never had to run to catch a train before, so I figured it was worth documenting.

That evening, we stayed in Kilkenny House Hotel about a fifteen minute walk from the city center. I pulled this photo from Google since I neglected to take any myself, but believe me when I say that this place was by far the best room for the lowest I amount I've paid since coming to Ireland. While some people are fine with a shared room hostel for only €20-25 a night, I'd much rather have some privacy if I can find an alternative that is still within my budget. Hotel rooms, from my experience, cost upward of €70 in general, €60 if you're lucky. That being said, this hotel charged only €45 for a two-bed room. It was perfect for us to split the cost and still be within our budgets. It was also perfectly well-kept, the owner was pleasant and helpful, and there is a nice bar and restaurant included also.

An Irish girl named Avril, who I met at a UCD Film Society event, and her boyfriend Paddy had agreed to show us around on Saturday of that weekend, since they both grew up in County Kilkenny, not far from the city itself. We met up the next day at Kilkenny Castle dating to the 12th century. Unfortunately, no photography was permitted inside.

Krystal and myself

After doing a walk-through of the accessible parts of the castle, we took a walk around the grounds and gardens which are part of the estate.

View of the River Nore from the castle grounds

The River Nore

Next, we headed into the city, which is actually quite small and much more quaint than I expected. We visited the oldest inn & restaurant in town, Kyteler's Inn, which was established in the 13th century by the now-famous Dame Alice de Kyteler. From their website:

The daughter of a Norman banker, Alice de Kyteler married four times and in the process amassed a considerable fortune. Local jealousies abounded and she was eventually accused of witchcraft and sentenced to be burned. Her excellent connections with local gentry ensured however that she was ‘spirited’ out of the country to England before the execution could take place.

'Wanted' posters for the 'witch'...the city has brought the story to life and has turned this small bit of Kilkenny history into an attraction

Portrait of Alice Kyteler, visible through the holes in the wall of the previous picture
The restaurant had a cellar-like level downstairs where we ate, but I did not get any pictures due to the dimness of the room

A more fictitious depiction of Alice Kyteler
After eating, we made our way through the streets, stopping here and there.

This is the first of seven cats we saw meandering around the city that day. Yes, we kept count, and yes, I petted as many of them as I could.
 Paddy and Avril took us to St. Canice's Cathedral, equipped with a round tower that is accessible to the public.

I just loved the yellow spring leaves on this... (tree? shrub?)

Black cat in a a city cursed by witchcraft....just kidding. Kitty #2 was playful and had crazy sharp claws ;)

The view from the round tower was excellent, and plenty rewarding after the gruelling climb to the top.

Green's Bridge over River Nore

View of Kilkenny Castle from the round tower

For the most part, you can tell how seriously little space you had once inside the tower. On some levels there was less than a foot of space between the wall and the base of the ladder.
 Kilkenny's most famous feature is the castle, of course, but what we found was that Kilkenny has an outrageous number of churches, cathedrals, abbeys, priories, you name it. They are all implicitly Irish and often embellished with beautiful stained glass, tall towers, and impressive statues and decorations.
The first we had a look inside was Black Abbey, established in 1225.

Next, we had a look inside St. Mary's Cathedral.

For the remainder of our time, we walked around the city and browsed the shops in town.

The River Nore

Even the alleyways in Kilkenny are picturesque

Avril, myself, and Krystal

Never managed to get a front-facing picture of Paddy and Avril that day, but I did get this.
Truly, the day was wonderful. I love being shown around by the locals - I really get to see and learn so much more about places this way. Of course, having the company of friends is always an added bonus when traveling. I am so glad for the opportunity we were given to come here, so thanks again, Paddy and Avril! I will surely miss you, but perhaps by blogging about it, we will all remember a bit more clearly when we think back on the day.

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