The Irish Chronicles – Part 3

Ireland, Day Four
10/5/05 01:00 am

Very good breakfast at the B&B – we were the only ones there and the breakfast room had a beautiful view of the valley over Thomastown.

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We decided to head for Hooks Head peninsula and then make for Mitchelstown on the way to County Kerry.

The drive down Hook was pretty.  Passed several ruins of cottages and churches.  Accidentally passed an old medival church (Templar cathedral, if the guidebook is right) with an old graveyard – turns out to be one we’d read about in the guidebook but wasn’t actively looking for.

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Wandered for a bit – well preserved ruin and the ‘yard was still in use.  Found half a stone from 1809 and another plot that spanned SIX generations and 200 years (all on one stone).

Made way to Hook Lighthouse – very squat structure and we decided to forgo the tour.  Got some pix of it and the sea (well, M did).  Went briefly to Slade castle next, which was nearby.  Right on the harbor, which smelled strongly of fish (no wonder, it’s a fishing port).  Not much to look at, but M got some shots of the castle with some cars out front – you know, that photographer’s eye for incongruity.

Headed back up the coast when we saw what seemed really odd – an English manor surrounded by fields.  Very unusual.  It’s on private land, but we did hang at the gates to take pictures and speculate.  It looked so forlorn and yet, so beautiful.  Wonder what the current owners will do with it?

Next stop was Duncannon.  The fort there was interesting, in that you could park anywhere.  It says that some of the film “The Count of Monte Cristo” was done there, but for the life of me I’ve no idea where.  M says she thinks she knows, but I’m guessing we’ll need to watch the movie again.  It’s a good flick anyway (and the book is just classic), so it’d be a welcome diversion after we get home. [Note: we figured it out easily enough – it’s during the opening scenese on Elbe, where Napoleon is talking to Edmon and hands him the letter. Got an approximate shot, below.]

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Made our way to Ballyhack and the ferry – it made for an easy shortcut to Waterford as opposed to going back up to New Ros and around the ‘horn’.  Was interesting, too, neither of us have taken a car ferry before.

From Waterford we drove to Cahir.  Took a couple of hours, thanks to a huge truck in front of us that refused to exceed 60 km on the N-25.  I got tired of looking at its back end – I could see little else – and was thwarted every time I wanted to pass (they call it ‘overtaking’).  We both cheered when he turned off in Carrik-sur-Muir.  Only 10 min later, we got stuck behind another truck.  Thankfully, we reached Cahir before long – and before I lost my sanity.

Still had a few hours, so we did a little tour of Castle Cahir – after buying postcards for family and work.  Very interesting castle.

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It’s still mostly intact, though it has seen some restoration in the 1860’s.  It still has a cannonball stuck in one of the towers from a siege in 1568 by the Earl of Sussex.  Had a very nice model with miniatures (oh, you know I’m a sucker) in one of the upper rooms that depicted the week-long siege.

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The spiral stairs were VERY narrow – and uneven – it’s very obvious the castle was easy to defend (and a Norman castle to boot!).

Wandered over to a local coffee shop to eat only to find that the kitchen had closed (before 5!) and so we had sandwiches instead.

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Afterward we walked around the small island the castle sits on for a bit then headed on to Mitchelstown, where we were going to stay. Watched a little TV before heading to bead – there’s only four stations you can get via standard broadcasting – they all show a variety of stuff.  We watched some music variety show (M called it “Irish Hee-Haw”) and then a special on the Curraigh (it’s an Irish flat boat for fishing).  I swear that documentary was made in the ’70’s.  I started nodding off during the last half of it, so we ended up crashing around 9:30 pm.

I’m in utter awe at the amount of things we’ve seen so far and the distance we’ve covered.  I’m so used to long distances on maps, this is a very welcome surprise (and a nice surpressing of the male “must-get-there-at-all-costs” mentality).  We’ll be heading to the Ring of Kerry for two days before working our way north up the western coastline.  As I write this (the next morning) the sky is finally blue, so hopefully the drive to Killarney will be excellent!

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