|Traveling south in our clockwise trip around Ireland, we arrived in Kilkenny on Saturday. It was Scott's first day of driving. He is the only one behind the wheel and -- trust me -- this is a good thing most of the time.
His only shortfall is his patience with city driving. On our 6-week road trip across the U.S. in 2009, he deliberately avoided big cities. While Kilkenny isn't that big, its streets are narrow, filled with drunken pedestrians and a challenge for parking. We were relieved to leave our little Ford Focus in its spot after a spewing of swear words from our driver.
Kilkenny may appear to be a quaint medieval river town with a beautiful castle, it turns into Las Vegas at night. It's apparently the place to go for "hen" or "stag" parties, aka all-age bachelorette and bachelor parties. This is quite a tradition in Ireland, with the women wearing sashes and crowns, and both sexes carrying around suggestive paraphernalia. One woman, probably 70 and obviously drunk, sucked on a phallic necklace charm nearby as we ate our pizza and pasta at an Italian restaurant. On our way home, a man outside of a pub had a similar oversized object he was flopping from his pants fly. I think the boys were oblivious.
Luckily, things turned more appropriate for Father's Day, which had a castle theme. We headed to Rock of Cashel, the ruins of a Gothic cathedral, tower and Celtic-cross cemetery spanning the 13th through 15th centuries. It was built as a fortress on a 200-foot-high outcrop of limestone. Very impressive.
Driving there, we followed what looked like the most direct route. It ended up being narrow country roads, taking about 90 minutes. Scott asked some tour bus drivers if that was the quickest way back to Kilkenny, and they pointed us to the motorway, which took us less than half the time. We're learning how to read the maps more carefully. We've also learned that while a motorway may go through a town, it might not exit there. You have to look at a map directory to check! We also realized how dependent we have become on our iPhone GPS' when traveling. While we are paying for phone service, cellular data access was too prohibitive here.
Back in Kilkenny, we toured the Kilkenny Castle, which was very close to our B&B. Rather than ruins, it is fully restored inside and out, with a beautiful park garden.
We enjoyed a delightful dinner at a popular pub, Kyteler's Inn, while listening to traditional Irish music. It was a great way to cap off Father's Day. The boys snuck away to a local candy shop to buy Dad their presents: a white chocolate sheep and milk chocolate cow, which he happily shared.
We're trying to get used to the late sunsets here. Because Ireland is so far north, it's typically light until well after 10 p.m. (Northern Ireland is on the same latitude as the southern park of Alaska). Soon it will be summer solstice, June 21, the longest day of the year.