48 Hours in Kilkenny
Sweet Start to Sweet Finish
|Street food: Farmers Market taco from the Bula Bus|
Let me take you to Inner Ireland, to Kilkenny in particular, the heart of the Ancient East.
Must say I was more interested in the inner part of me when I arrived, with the sunshine, on a recent Thursday at noon. Parked up and headed to the Weekly Farmers Market. Not as many stalls as I’d been led to believe but no shortage of food.
One of the first spotted was Charly’s Cheesecakes who have been trading in Cork’s English Market recently and who now have a spot in the Coal Quay on Saturdays.
Close by were the boys from Bula Bus, the bus based restaurant in the back yard of Billy Byrnes’s pub in Kilkenny. Started at their stall with a hearty Smoked Czech Sausage in a baguette and a dollop or two of Californian Pickled Cabbage (a short-cut version of sauerkraut). CL was also well fed, no shortage of either quality or quantity in her Braised Beef Taco.
|Muscles and Medals galore.|
So we sat on one of the stone benches and indulged and soon over came Derek of Charly's with a couple of his cheesecakes for dessert! Both gorgeous, but that Malteser must be one of his very best. A cup of coffee then from another stand and we were ready to walk!
Our first port to call was the Smithwick’s Experience. The family first started brewing here over 300 years ago (1710) and we had an enjoyable tour and tasting in the old building in the centre of the town.
|Inside the Medieval Mile Museum|
Time then to check in at Hotel Kilkenny, up past famous St Kieran’s where I was well fed in 1963 after playing a “friendly” against them at Nowlan Park. It is a fine hotel but disappointed at the lack of Irish craft beers and spirits in the bar. We were dining out that night, at the Royal Spice, one of the better Indian restaurants around.
What I particularly liked about it was that fact that the small folks in history got a mention! Oh yes, the Butlers and other nobles are well covered here. But be sure and go upstairs to the Kilkenny Room for some interesting stories about ordinary life in medieval times.
You'll see the quotes on small blue-ish panels. If you are not on a guided tour, you can open these doors yourself and see the actual letters of the time, all of them hand-written, some of them some of them beautifully so.
One concerns a complaint (about 1700) that "severall idle women doe make and sell unwholesome bread halfe baked in open ovens". Two men, who may have been members of the bakers guild, made the complaint.
There is a document where you learn that Kilkenny employed a "whipsbeggar" whose job was to drive strange or unfamiliar beggars out of town. In 1547, the mayor was given the task of making a dipping stole (stool) for punishing of bawdy hoores, and cnaves (knaves).
We had visited the Castle a good few years back and were delighted to do so again. Some magnificent rooms and furniture here, history in every nook and cranny, lovely views over the Nore River and of the castle grounds. A highlight is a visit to the gallery though you may have a strain in your neck as you take in the very unusual painted ceiling. The high walls are full of paintings, mainly of the Butlers.
|Operation transformation at Nicholas Mosse|
The Nore flows through Bennettsbridge under a lovely old multi-arch bridge. The next river we would see was the Barrow in Graiguenamamagh on the Kilkenny-Carlow border, a beautiful village, with quite a few river-boats parked for the winter.
|Goats graze in Bennettsbridge|
Our base that night was at the renovated Kilkenny Inn and we enjoyed a lovely meal in their new restaurant, Kernel. Up bright and early - so was the sun - the following morning.
|Farming monk in Graiguenamanagh|
I didn't climb the tower this time but, they do say, if you like a place you should always leave something to draw you back!
|Kilkenny side of the Barrow|
|Carlow side of the Barrow|
|St Canice's Cathedral and Round Tower|
Lots of notes and photos taken, so I have individual posts on some of the visits. Hope they help you on your trip to Inner Ireland!
See also: The Smithwick Experience. Royal Spice Indian Restaurant. From the Bula Bus. CakeFace Pastry The new Kernel Restaurant
|Effigies on the tomb of Piers Butler (died 1539) and his wife Margaret Fitzgerald (1542)|