After leaving Dublin we had a couple days before we could check into our rental house in Bantry. So we decided to take full advantage of our rental car and the extra time to see some other places in Ireland. After perusing our trusty Rick Steve’s Ireland Guidebook and playing connect the dots with our must see Ireland Heritage Sites, we mapped out our route. Our route included a night in Kilkenny. Kilkenny is a quaint Irish village located towards the center of Ireland, and as it turned out, it is a very nice place to stay. However, for Jason Kilkenny is not only just a nice, quaint Irish village, but also a source of amusement. Anytime someone mentions the name Kilkenny, he has this sudden urge to shout, “You Bastards!” For those of you who have ever watched the TV show, “South Park,” you have probably grasped why Jason has this urge.
On our list of places to see while in Kilkenny was Dunmore Cave, which is located just a couple miles outside of Kilkenny. Before we left for Kilkenny we had spent the morning touring Trim castle in the town of Trim. In fact, we spent a little longer than we had intended and were concerned that we would not be able to make it in time to see Dunmore cave. The cave can only be seen by guided tour and the last tour leaves one hour before closing time. So, when we finally arrived Jason jumped out of the car to find out when the next tour was leaving, while I gathered up our belongings. Fortunately for us, we made it in the nick of time. The tour was just starting and there was room for us!
Dunmore Cave is a limestone cavern and has some nice stalactite and stalagmite formations. If you are like me and can never remember which is which, here is a handy pneumonic to help out. Stalactite is stretched “tite” (tight) from hanging from the ceiling and Stalagmite pushes up with all its’ “mite” (might) from the ground.
However, the history of the cave is much more fascinating versus the cave formations. Dunmore cave is the site of a Viking massacre, which occurred in 928 A.D. While the battle was going on outside the cave, women and children hid in the back of Dunmore. The rival tribe then set fire at the front of the cave to drive them out. However, instead the fire resulted in suffocating them all. The bones and coins of the massacred have only recently been found. As recently as 2006, several other artifacts believed to have been left by Vikings as an offering to the gods have also been found. We saw many of those treasures in the National Archeology Museum when we were in Dublin. This is one of the things I love about traveling!
Now with Dunmore Cave crossed off our list the question became, “Where to stay the night in Kilkenny?” So, we were off in search of a place to stay. Locating a place was surprisingly more difficult than we thought it would be. Although there were lots of rooms available, they were way out of our budget. After what seemed like an endless stream of disappointments, we finally found a nice bed and breakfast for a much more reasonable price and it was within walking distance of the town center.
Once we settled into our “home” for the night, we spent the evening exploring the village of Kilkenny. The village of Kilkenny has a really nice vibe to it with brightly colored shops, narrow lanes, a river running through it, and a castle in the town center. What more could one ask for? It also supposedly has some great opportunities to listen to traditional Irish music in the local pubs. However, we were on a “budget hangover” from our stay in Dublin and decided to save some money and skip the music. We instead found a good cheap “takeaway” place and enjoyed some excellent chips (fries) with vinegar and salt and hamburgers. Yum!
In the morning, we enjoyed a delicious full Irish breakfast including black and white pudding at our B&B. For those of you that do not know, white pudding is an oat and meat sausage and black pudding is an oat, blood, and meat sausage. After breakfast, we set off to walk off that full Irish Breakfast ending our walk at Kilkenny Castle.
Kilkenny Castle is set in the middle of Kilkenny town on the River Nore. Kilkenny Castle was initially built in the 12th century and over the years has been built onto and remodeled multiple times. Several fortunes have been sunk into the castle to maintain it, including the fortune of one unfortunate wife. I think I would have been a little miffed if I was that wife. The cost for the up keep of Kilkenny Castle became too much for the owners and it was donated to the town in 1967.
Kilkenny Castle is not a drippy, cold ruin like so many of the other castles in Ireland, as much of the castle has been restored and preserved by Ireland Public Works. Jason was excited when he learned this. He only wishes when he worked for public works in the states they could have managed a project like that. We enjoyed the morning exploring the castle and admiring the views of Kilkenny village. But alas, we had to leave Kilkenny for our home in Bantry.
So if you are looking for a nice place to stay with some history, Kilkenny is the place for you.