Tours and Musings on Ireland)
Excerpt from Kristy's Journal:
Thursday - September 12, 2002
11:05 pm (cont.)
After Ormond Castle (in County Tipperary) we backtracked a
little and headed up the road to Kilkenny (the country's hurling
champions from the previous Sunday) and veered off to an Abbey.
Jerpoint Abbey to be more specific. Most of the abbey was
in ruins, but a sense of peace prevailed there. Our tour guide,
Vanessa, had almost a fairy sense about her as she flitted
from place to place among the ruins. She told us humorous
tales and made us feel as though the monks were just taking
a break and would be back shortly. She sparked our imaginations
and gracefully merged the lore of fairy tales and wonder of
Ireland with the strict Christianity that pervaded the Abbey.
I very much felt that I knew the monks when I left and I
felt safe, protected and closer to God. Such a beautiful place.
We drove into Kilkenny later that night and found an absolutely
awesome place for dinner. It was Mediterranean style. Then
we drove back to our B&B and bopped across the street
for a Kilkenny beer in Kilkenny.
Beth asked the bartender to explain hurling and he did a
fairly good job. We had a much better understanding. Apparently
the sport is extremely popular in Ireland, slightly popular
in England and there's club in New York made up of Irish hurlers.
I did say I have a better understanding, but I still can't
Friday - September 13, 2002
I want to speak about a few things that are unique or that
I really like about Ireland. First, there are the road signs,
or the lack thereof. In some instances they have great road
signs. My particular favorite are what I call the slash signs.
They consist of the first sign: /// which means that an exit
is coming up, then they'll be: // which means it's getting
closer, then: / you're on top of the exit, exit now! We spent
several days staring at them trying to figure them out before
we came up with that complicated explanation.
Now they have signs pointing to tourist destinations, but
they're always tiny and they're always hidden. There are no
giant "ENTER HERE" signs, just the occasional "No
Entry" sign, which is really not something you want to
encounter. If you happen to be able to read the sign properly
you are probably going the wrong way on a divided highway
where the speed limit is 75 mph.
The love of hurling here is not just admirable, but lovable.
It is almost uplifting to see people join together in a common
bond with their neighbors because of a county sporting event.
The entire town bedecks itself with ribbons in girls' hair,
flags on cars and houses, painting the town telephone poles,
decorating the store display windows with the county colors
and every other possible way of displaying the county's colors
that you can think of.
In Kilkenny we wandered up one of the historic streets filled
with shops, looking in the windows and browsing our way to
Kilkenny Castle. A complete monstrosity owned by the Butler
family (remember Ormond Castle in County Tipperary?) - same
family. In all they owned 15 castles or holdings and over
2 1/2 counties in Ireland. Absolutely incredible from the
Chinese Room to the massive windows in the "Grand Hall."
We had to check our bags. Everyone did. We learned on the
tour that people had swung around with packs on and had broken
After Kilkenny Castle we decided to take the 12:30 pm walking
tour of Kilkenny. The guide was nice, but extremely old. The
tour wound through the town and ended at a Catholic church
that was finishing mass. After the tour, we took a picture
with him and he gave us a big hug. He was very cute and very
Irish with his tie, sweater vest and blazer.