Monday, September 29, 2008

2008 Ireland Trip - 5 Sep 08, Part II

The second part of the day for September 5th was a visit to the Rock of Cashel.

This is a very impressive site to visit and it was worth every bit of getting soaked to see the ruins.

This hill was originally used as a fortress, but became a church holding early on in its history.

After entering the building and paying the admission fee, the first room to visit is the Vicar's Choral. There are quite a few artifacts presented in this room.

Most of these panels and artifacts date to medieval times.

Tools and articles from the cathedral are on display.

This is St. Patrick's Cross, or what's left of it.

There are a lot of interesting things to see in this restored building, and it does give a sense of what the interiors of these monumental buildings must have been like in the 12th and 13th centuries.

I didn't see any signage to give a clue as to what all of the figures and patterns mean, but they are still very interesting and beautiful to see.

The exit to the Vicar's Choral takes you right to the ruins of the cathedral and palace. "Monumental" doesn't even begin to describe this site.

The place was destroyed in the 16oo's during the Irish Confederate wars. The history of this place is pretty grim during that time.

With the downpours and heavy cloud cover, it was pretty challenging to take photos.

I did enjoy walking around the building to see the cemetery and surrounding countryside panoramas.

The high crosses are pretty impressive here.

This is the transition zone from the cathedral to the palace.

Another beautifully carved Celtic cross.

Dramatic view of the graveyard.

The tower was built in the early 1100's, using a dry stone technique.

The tower is 90 feet tall, so that gives you an idea about the rest of the buildings at the site.

The rock stands about 200 feet above the rest of the area, so it offers a good view of the surrounding countryside.


This was one of the more picturesque cemeteries we visited in Ireland.

After walking all around the exterior (and waiting for the tour bus group to finish their tour), we entered the cathedral.

It must have been very beautiful. The skeleton is still beautiful, but I can imagine the interior space and the sounds of the choir during mass.

I'm not sure what that wooden building was supposed to be - it's a new construction.

There's a lot of algae and mold in some corners of the building.

Bits of plaster are still evident.

There are a lot of grave slabs and tombs still present inside the cathedral.

This place was awesome - not much more to add to that statement.

This scene gives a better sense of the destruction done by the English in the 1600's. It is so tragic that the art and architecture was treated in such a savage manner.

If you take a trip to Ireland, make this a "must see" part of your itinerary!

After this stop we headed southeast. We made it to Clonakilty near dark and we enjoyed supper and a pub in town where we met some people and shared some stories. I particularly enjoyed talking to a man named Tommy who was 94 years old, a farmer and a bee keeper. We had a bit of trouble understanding one another's accents, but we enjoyed the visit none-the-less.

Monday, September 22, 2008

2008 Ireland Trip - 5 Sep 08, Part I

We stayed in Kilkenny the night of September 4th, at the Hotel Kilkenny. I had purchased vouchers for stays in B&B's and a few hotels, and I have to say that the Hotel Kilkenny was the least friendly, least pleasant, and most unhelpful place to stay of all the different places we visited during this entire trip. It started during my attempt to make a reservation. I had to make an international phone call, and when I reached them by phone they wouldn't reserve a room for me because I had told them I had a voucher. I had offered to guarantee my arrival by giving them my CC#, but that wasn't good enough. I finally had to get my travel agent to make arrangements with them.

Once we arrived, it didn't improve at all. I had booked a twin room (two beds), but they put us in a room with a single bed. They did move us, but the phone in the new room wasn't operational. I finally found the internet port, but the cable they gave me was about a foot long, which meant that I had to sit on the floor under a table to access the net. It was a hassle all the way around and I can't recommend this hotel to anyone. It's supposed to be a 4-star hotel, but I wonder how they achieved that rating - it's certainly not on customer satisfaction, if my experience was the norm.

Ok, so that's probably enough griping, but, hey, what's the point of having a blog if you can't vent every-once-in-awhile?

Kilkenny is a busy place and there were a couple of places I read about in the tour guide that made me want to visit.

Our first stop was Kilkenny Castle. I thought Michael might enjoy seeing the castle since we had enjoyed touring Leeds Castle in Kent, England back in 2000.

Kilkenny Castle looks pretty impressive - not so impressive that I wanted to pay the entry fee to tour it, but it was fun to walk around the outside.

Before we went over there, I wanted to look through the Kilkenny Design Centre. This was one of the other stops that drew me to Kilkenny.

It's set up in what used to be the stable and carriage house for the castle.

The Crafts Council of Ireland has exhibits here, and I was really glad to be able to see the current one on display in the National Craft Gallery.

I took a lot of photos, but to save space on my account I'll post just a few of the ones that drew my eye. These ceramic pieces are by Frances Lambe.

These are also by France Lambe.

Work by Ann Mulrooney

A view of the far gallery.

Sculptural turnings by Emmet Kane. I had hoped to have dinner with Emmet toward the end of our trip, but we just couldn't manage to get to his place.

More of Emmet's work.

Sculptures by Laura O'Hagan

Ceramic vases by Cora Cummins - these were amongst my favorites in the exhibit.

There are several shops around the courtyard where artists are working in their studios. These are small anvils in the silversmith's shop.

Another view of the silversmith's studio.

There are several studios along this lane.

After visiting the gift shops in the design centre, we went back across the street to the castle. The grounds are pretty extensive, which surprised me. You can't really tell from looking at the castle entrance.

This is the back side of the castle.

There are many interesting niches and architectural features along the perimeter of the castle.

You can still go inside part of the castle if you don't pay for a tour. You can visit the gallery of modern art (the Butler gallery).

There was an exhibit by Atsushi Kaga, which was mostly various installations of social commentary. Some of it was pretty humorous and some of it was rather dark in nature.

One of the galleries was an installation of television monitors, each of them with a different animated theme. These were pretty humorous.

After visiting the castle, we had a pretty wet walk up the main street to go to the Cathedral Church of St. Canice. When I say wet, I mean really wet as in pouring down rain and getting totally soaked.

This is one of the small relief sculptures that decorate the walls as you walk up the alley to the cathedral.

It's not a huge cathedral, but it is pretty old - dating to the 13th century.

There are several high crosses that are in good condition in cemetery that surrounds the church. We went inside to check on the admission fee and it was 5 euros each. We decided to not go in for that fee - it would have taken only about half an hour to see everything and it was rather dark inside. So we found a coffee shop and had some refreshments before heading to the Rock of Cashel (that's going to be part II of this blog post - stay tuned!).