Today we went to Kilkenny.
We were just families – no TU students, because today they had class and a paper to finish. We three (Mom, Dad, and I) stayed with the family I mentioned yesterday – the parents are great company, and the teen daughter was a lot of fun. It was a full day – we left early for the long drive, and got home late.
The first thing we all did was to tour Kilkenny Castle together as a group. I expected armor lining hallways, antique furniture, tapestries, and fur rugs – too much TV, I guess. The inside of the building was just… a building. The restorers did an outstanding job, especially considering that the whole place had been run down and all but demolished by time and misuse, but it lacked the movie-set details I expected. =)
What it DID have that I didn’t expect was modern art exhibits. It was really haphazard – the installations (and they were video and built models, not painting and sculpture like you’d expect) were just scattered in some of the more formal first floor rooms, as if someone had just tossed them together. Didn’t look planned – just… messy.
There was no photography allowed in the castle (only on and around the grounds), else I’d have taken and posted photos of the most interesting rooms. There were replica bedrooms with interesting wallpapers and furniture, and there was a long portrait gallery containing paintings of generations of the family who owned the castle and lands.
When we’d finished with the castle, our group went up the street to a bookstore cafe. We had a fabulous lunch (and wonderful coffee) before heading off to St. Canice’s Cathedral.
St. Canice’s Cathedral
This church, unlike some of the other cathedrals we’ve visited here, is still in use and NOT completely commercialized. The woman taking tickets said they’d rather not have charged admission, but that the state didn’t subsidize that church, so they had to do their own upkeep. It was an enormous building that housed a very obviously active body, so I didn’t mind paying the entrance fee. =)
There was the same kind of memorial plaques and tombs and iconography as in the other churches, but somehow here it wasn’t distracting. Maybe I felt that way because I could also see evidence of the congregation’s use of the building as well – information about reaching the neighborhood, beanbag chairs for a weekly kids’ group meeting, choir stalls that were obviously used…
There weren’t extensive grounds like we found at the Dublin cathedrals – this church was surrounded (completely) by a graveyard. The headstones were so interesting – and so beautiful!
St. Canice’s Cathedral
Once we left the cathedral (but not before Rachel, the teen daughter, climbed the 100ft-high round tower), we headed back toward the castle part of town. We wanted to see the Dominican Black Abbey and do a little shopping before our scheduled dinner.
The Abbey was completely deserted when we entered – no one was there to charge admission (it was much smaller, and an actual church) or to take money for the few pieces of literature it offered (and had prices on) – you simply dropped your money into boxes in the wall.
It was a strange mix of very old and very modern – the building and court were obviously historic, but some of the stained glass was new (make sure you click the link to my pictures, above) and not at all what you expect to see in a building like that. This window, however, more true to period – but look at this detail (and check out the colored light coming in)! You’ll have to click and view it larger:
Black Abbey – the more traditional stained glass
Black Abbey – the striking modern stained glass
After the Black Abbey, we stopped for coffee and shopping in the Market Cross Shopping Centre, then went on to the Design Craft Centre. Lots of local artists have shops and studios in this set of buildings just across from the castle. We went into several shops, and ended up picking up souvenirs and gifts at a pottery shop and an all-kinds-of-handmade-art shop. I was SO tempted to buy one of Anna Neilsen‘s prints… (her website is a mess, but I didn’t take pictures)… her work is WONDERFUL.
We left the shop and went to dinner at the Hibernian Hotel with the rest of the folks on the tour. We ate an amazingly fantastic three-course dinner, then headed home.
Check out the rest of today’s pictures if you have the time. I only posted a few of the best ones – be grateful. I took 250. =)