With the previous evening’s sunset missed thanks to my newly found stoned traveling acquaintance, we ended up hitting the local pub instead. This was the last day being out in the country before heading back to the dreaded big city.
Due to some of the opening times of the various sights to see, I had to back track a little to reach Mitchelstown Cave. Fun fact, it is the only privatized cave in Ireland. They have refrained from commercializing it as the rest have and on one hand it does show a little. The access is a bit steeper with rock hazards protruding throughout. It provides a bit more of an authentic experience short of actually going caving which is rather welcomed in my opinion.
The largest cavern in the cave is known as the Concert Hall and has hosted numerous musical events and dinner sessions. In various spots throughout the cave, beautiful curtains of stalactites grace the walls.
Our tour guy, Gemma, pointed out a rather rare find, which I naturally managed to catch out of focus. It’s the fossil of an ancient sea creature which was swept away through an underground river being meeting its fate. You get to see the fossilized crustacean embedded in the stone wall before you make your way out of the cave. All in all the Mitchelstown Cave is worth checking out. Similar to Jerry at the Arigna Mine tour, Gemma was a great guide and made for a wonderful experience. I’m a strong believer that a guide can make or break your tour, and so far my tours in Ireland have been mostly all very rewarding.
Cahir castle dates back to the early 13th century when it was built on the site of an earlier fortification known as Cathair. The castle fell to ruin in the late 18th century at which time it was partially restored and the Great Hall was partly rebuilt in the 1840’s.
While the castle itself is absolutely beautiful, I wouldn’t advise paying the admission to go inside unless you really enjoy reading up on the history. It is restored with finished walls all painted, but that is about it. There are a few display booths inside with history of the castle and area but they lack any kind of content that the other larger castles have. Most of the rooms are bare, with nothing inside but painted white walls.
There are a couple neat spots such as the two tiered access to the lower dungeons and lookout tower. A couple very narrow stair cases lead down to basement storage areas which must have been very uncomfortable bringing any goods down to. There is also a large scale model which was crafted very well to show an over view of the area with the castle and previous settlements with battle camps included.
From the outside though, Cahir Castle looks very formidable and impressive. The Sword of Excalibur can also be located on the grounds outside of the castle walls.
Off to another castle, The Rock of Cashel in Cashel, County Tipperary. The oldest portion of the grounds was constructed around 1100. It is currently going through major restoration.
Throughout the castle, previous stone work gives you glimpse of a time past. The horizontal ledges that can be seen up the walls are part of the old floor supports which held up the first. The passage way you see in the stone would have actually been behind the wall which allowed the Priest to help evade any attackers and move through the castle unhindered.
St. Patrick’s Cross is displayed in the courtyard. One side of the monument depicts Christ’s crucifixion, while the opposite side portrays a bishop. The original cross was moved indoors around 1970 to protect it from the elements. A concrete replica takes its place.
As with most places in Ireland, St. Patricks Cross has its own tale to tell. It is said that if you can reach your arms around the cross and touch your fingers you will not suffer another toothache again! Also if a certain ritual is performed around the Cross, it supposedly prompts a quick marriage.
Of all the castles in Ireland that I was able to visit, walking into the Rock of Cashel presented me with the biggest WOW as the massive stone arches towered up around me on all sides. The grandeur and scale of the stone work is just amazing to witness.
Stinning Nattle. Love it or hate it, it makes your skin burn to the touch and over the course of the trip I’ve stuck my face in it by accident and my arms… my legs got hit about a dozen times at least due to the shorts. Its awful stuff and eventually its like you almost dont feel it.
Along a back road I came across a section which had all of the hedges removed. It was a very odd contrast to the usual hedges with power poles hidden in them. It felt a bit alien to say the least.
Kilkenny Castle was initially built in 1195 to control a fording point of the River Nore. Ireland's highest officially recognized air temperature, 33.3 °C, was actually measured at Kilkenny Castle in June 1887.
St. Canice’s Cathedral was built in the 13th century and is the second largest cathedral in Ireland. Naturally the Cathedral had a graveyard… just like clockwork in the cover of darkness behind me… a black cat! I’m fairly confident the Irish government subsidizes churches and relics with free black cats. There has been a black cat at almost every graveyard I’ve visited.
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