After a slow Sunday morning in Dublin, I caught a train to Kilkenny, a beautiful little medieval village to the southwest of the capitol. The journey took me (as I presume all journeys in Ireland do) through brilliant green countryside drenched in sunshine, dotted with sheep, and crisscrossed with hedgerows and low stone walls.
I arrived around 4pm, which put me in a bit of a time crunch. On a Sunday, that gave me only an hour before all the shops and tourist sites would close! (A word to the wise: Don’t trust Google when planning your Irish rail itinerary, go straight to the official website to make sure that the train you want is actually running….).
So I dropped my things at the hotel and headed out for a quick sight-seeing blitz through town.
The castle was just around the corner from my hotel. It dates back to the middle ages but had been updated in later centuries with granaries and stables that are now used to showcase Irish craft and design. I made a note to come back tomorrow . . . .
Then into the village and down the “Medieval Mile” that runs between the castle and the cathedral. In classic medieval fashion, the street was long and lined with shops, with tiny passages piercing through to access parallel streets.
Murphy’s ice cream shop caught my eye, so I stopped and discovered the delight of “sea salt” and “brown bread” ice cream. Seriously some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had; I particularly loved the brown bread–it really tasted like a slice of homemade wheat bread with butter!
At the far end of the street stood the stately St Canice’s Cathedral. The slender round tower was built in 900 AD, and the rest of it in the 1200s. It was old and somber, sitting in an atmospheric ancient graveyard. I arrived just as Evensong services were beginning, so I went in and sat in a back bench and listened. It was beautiful. The sun streamed through the high, stained glass windows, and the great space filled with song. This was no professional choir, but the singers were earnest and created some real moments of loveliness–and the organ was terrific.
From there I wandered back into town. I noted a few shops that looked worth returning to in the morning (fingers crossed they’re open on a bank holiday!), ate some dinner (in one of those converted granaries at the castle!) and then went to bed early.