May 31, 2017:
Today’s itinerary takes us south from Kilkenny into County Cork, with an ultimate destination of the Old Head golf course outside the town of Kinsale.
However, on the way, we stopped first at the Rock of Cashel, which is famous as the site of a fortified medieval abbey sitting on a limestone outcrop. There used to be a huge stone Celtic cross outside the abbey, but a bolt of lightning string down its cross arms. The Rock of Cashel is located in County Tipperary, which drew the obvious comments from all of us about how far we had driven to get here!
As we stopped in Cashel, we saw a couple of the few remaining Gypsy caravans in Ireland. Most of the Gypsy people have since moved into homes or mobile homes, but these caravans were a throwback to olden times.
In the town of Kinsale, we stopped first at the entrance of Kinsale harbor, and visited George Fort, which is one of the few remaining 5-sided star forts in Ireland. It was built in the 1670s to ward off foreign invaders, but fell to the British in 1690, and remained a British fort until 1922, when the Irish returned to home rule.
There is another fort on the west side of the harbor called James Fort, but we did not visit it. Instead, we drove through Kinsale, and then out onto the Old Head of Kinsale.
It is a lovely drive onto the headland which is the site of one of the 80 signal lighthouses built by the British to warn against potential attacks by the French.
It is also the site of the Old Head Golf Course, one of the toughest courses in the world! Having seen how extreme some of the shots were (translate: many of the fairways aren’t even visible from the tee boxes). The guys all congratulated themselves on their intelligence for haven chosen NOT to play this course!
We enjoyed a great lunch at the club, and enjoyed the views out to sea. Then, it was time to head back to Kilkenny. On the way, we stopped to visit the Garden of Remembrance, which is a tree arbor planted by a retired nurse from Ireland, Cait Murphy, who had worked in New York for 30 years. She planted the garden in remembrance of her friend, Father Michael Judge (chaplain to the firemen of New York) and the 343 other firemen who lost their lives on 9/11.
We then stopped briefly in the town of Kinsale to walk around the port, and take some photos.
On our way home, we stopped briefly in Cahir. There we viewed Cahir Castle, where you can still see a cannon ball imbedded in the wall of the castle. The castle was built in the 13th Century as a Norman fortress, It then came under the control of the powerful Butler family, was expanded during the Renaissance period and stayed in their family until 1964. The site of the Castle is lovely, sitting on an island in the middle of the River Suir.
For dinner this evening, we ate at a local restaurant and bar, Matt the Miller’s, where we enjoyed a couple of bands playing traditional music, as we ate not so traditional barbecues ribs, which were pretty darn good. Happy and exhausted, we went to bed.