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Mitchelstown - Gorey (Rock of Cashel)

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Friday 20 December, Mitchelstown - Gorey (Rock of Cashel)

Northeast of Mitchelstown are a number of caves, but we suppose they will be closed in December, as the other caves we have come across. Now and then a little drizzle falls down, and it is the first rain we experience in Ireland. We had expected it earlier.
Through the beautiful Glen of Aherlow we first drive to Tipperary, known from the song (it's a long way to Tipperary), but the town can't impress us. To be honest, I realise only later that we have passed through the town. There are many caves in the hillsides of the Glen and they were once used by Irish who resisted the British rulers.
Rock of Cashel Dominican abbeySoon, we arrive at Cashel where the famous Rock of Cashel rises 60 metres high from the landscape, with on top, of course, a castle. It is an impressive sight and not surprisingly a historical important place: St. Patrick, the patron of Ireland, converted on this spot the first kings (450 AD.) and between 370 and 1100 this place was the seat of the kings of Munster.
Castle hotel, CashelWe drive around the village and the rock, searching for a good spot to take a picture, when we also see this ruin, of a Dominican Abbey dating from 1243. One of the many abbey-ruins which are spread throughout the country.
Looking from all sides it is clear the rock is the most suitable place for a castle. There is another castle in the town, now a hotel.
Leaving Cashel we want to take a byway to Kilkenny. According to our map it is one road, the R691, but soon we pass places which we can't find on the map. Again, the roadsigns are very unclear, or even missing. Unintentionally, we arrive at Fethard after some time, but we were not aware of that, yet.
Priory FethardBut seeing this town rampart and the abbey, we realise we have gone astray, since we just read in our travel guide about such a town: Fethard. Then several things happen at once: we want to take a picture, Teije is looking at the map while trying to turn the car on a narrow road and a bottle of soft drink falls upside down, without the top, into his lap. Wthin a few seconds we are in control again, until an oncoming motorist flashes his light and points to his head. Because of all the distractions Teije is driving on the right side of the road (so, that's the wrong side), neither of us noticing it. Fortunately, it is only the first time (and the last as well) that we forget to drive on the left.
Castle KilkennySoon, we seem to have found the right road again, but again we take wrong directions a few times. On crossroads we have to guess which way we should go, and we find it very confusing. Well, we see a lot of this agricultural area, this way, before we reach Kilkenny. Like in Cashel, a castle dominates the town.
Kilkenny KilkennyKilkenny is a marvellous medieval town. Apart from 2 castles and 2 cathedrals there are many more medieval buildings which are well-kept. According to the 'experts' it is the best kept medieval town of Ireland. Before the Normans invaded Ireland, it was the capital of the kingdom Ossory and also the seat of several Irish parliaments in later centuries.
KilkennyAfter the usual lunch (soup) we make a short walk through the vivid town. Almost all towns which we pass through are quite busy: lots of traffic, many people walking on the streets and it is almost impossible to find a parking place. They probably have never heard about bypasses, because the main roads all go through the centre of the towns and villages and there are many traffic jams on the rush hours. To the left a house decorated for christmas as we see a lot throughout Ireland.
From Kilkenny we take several sideroads to the eastern coast of Ireland. Our final destination for today is Gorey and this time, on all these small roads, the right road is clearly indicated to our big surprise and we only get lost twice. Once we don't trust it wether we are going the right way and we stop to ask a friendly Irish man, but this time our intuition was good!
Hotel at GoreyThe main road from Wexford to Dublin is going straight through the centre of Gorey and we are glad when we find a parking place in a sideroad. The whole evening there is a traffic jam, slowly driving on and almost a quarter of the traffic consists of heavy trucks. We are glad our room is at the back of the hotel! In the evening we walk through the town, buy us some books and visit a few pubs. A very pleasant evening!


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