Hello all! Happy August. For a lot of us, that means getting ready to go back to school. For those of us in the world who may have already finished school and are a part of the working world, August just means the end of another season. And to think that I’ll be joining that latter group in just two years. Now that’s a scary thought. Before I get on with the actual topic of this post, I have some cool news. Well, for most of you guys out there this won’t be anything too exciting but for me it is. I potentially will have a job soon! (My mother will be bouncing off the walls if I get this.) I had a phone interview Friday morning. Now, like I said, this isn’t ground-breaking for most people but this is the farthest that I’ve ever gotten with an application before. Which is kind of sad if you think about it but hey, I live in a small town and as soon as they find out I go to school out of state, it’s pretty much over it seems. But anyway, just thought I’d share my excitement (and nerves) with you guys and now that I have….ON TO CAVES AND CASTLES!
So as I’m sure most of you could probably figure out, Kilkenny Castle is located in Kilkenny, Ireland. For those of you who didn’t, well, I just told you. Kilkenny is a wonderful little town. We wandered around the town for a bit between touring the castle and eating lunch in a local pub. It was great. The town was really cute and we saw a good number of street musicians down a little side street which I thought was interesting. They were pretty good. We also saw a truck that had Nostalgia Café written on the side.
The castle itself was really nice. It’s right next to a street with a few stores just across from it. The area just past the gates vaguely reminded me of Chambord or Cheverny, two chateaux that I visited while in France. I only say that because there’s a decent-sized courtyard past the gates that lead into an open expanse of green to the right. About the same time that we arrived, there was a young school group going in to tour the castle. They were so cute! It was a class of six year olds (that’s my estimate) and they were all wearing little kid versions of those reflective vests that cross guards or runners wear. So cute.
We got a tour of the castle which was nice. There were paintings of past owners (most from the same family, the Butlers of Ormonde or just the Butler family) on the walls. There was also a giant hall that we saw towards the end of the tour. It’s this great big, long hall with a fireplace and more paintings along the wall and skylights in the ceiling. The skylights were a genius move because electricity wasn’t around back then (obviously) so these skylights were a good and efficient way to light up the hall without having light tons of candles. I don’t remember when the skylights were added but the castle itself has been around for centuries. It was built in 1195 by William Marshal who was the 1st Earl of Pembroke. In 1391, the castle was bought by the 3rd Earl of Ormonde, James Butler, and so began the reign of the Butler dynasty. Fun fact for anyone who knows anything about Henry VIII and his wives or just likes European history, the paternal grandmother of Henry VIII’s second wife Anne Boleyn was a Butler. Kilkenny Castle remained in the Butler family until 1935, after which the Butlers moved to London and left the castle for more than thirty years. The rising cost of taxes and other living expenses took their toll on the family. In 1967, Arthur Butler, 6th Marquess and 24th Earl of Ormonde, sold the abandoned castle to the Castle Restoration Committee for just 50 pounds with the statement, “The people of Kilkenny, as well as myself and my family, feel a great pride in the Castle, and we have not liked to see this deterioration. We determined that it should not fall to ruins. There are already too many ruins in Ireland.” Today, the castle has been restored and is a nice place to visit and compliments the town of Kilkenny.
Shall we move on to the caves portion of this castle and caves post? I think yes so….that’s what we’re going to do. Sorry if you’d rather talk more about the castle or the town of Kilkenny. I suggest you visit it if that’s the case. I might even be willing to go with you if you. Ha, who am I kidding? Of course I’d be willing to go back. Ireland is one of my favorite places that I’ve visited. But on to the caves bit. More specifically, Dunmore Cave. Now, I know that some of you out there might get claustrophobic or are not too fond of the dark. If either of those things apply to you, have no fear. Dunmore Cave is not that bad. It’s actually pretty big and open and has light. It’s one of the smallest caves that I’ve ever visited, not that I’ve gone to many but my family and I have been to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky and Luray Caverns in Virginia. Dunmore Cave is really just two big rooms. The first is the bigger of the two and has plenty of light as the opening is huge and the second room isn’t too bad either. The second room is a bit further in so the light in there is artificial. I think the cave itself actually extends farther but the two rooms at the front of the cave are all that’s open to the public. We had a guide who talked us through the formation of caves in general and pointed out certain features of the cave before proceeding on to tell us a bit about the history of Dunmore. Dunmore Cave perhaps may be most famous for being the site of a Viking massacre in 928 AD. I will say this though, for anyone planning to visit, at the end of the tour in the second room, the guide does turn off all the lights in the area for a minute or two so that you can get a feel of what it was like for those who first discovered and explored the cave way back when. There are railings and such so it’s completely safe and they warn you before they flip the switch but just so you guys know, they do turn off the lights at the end of the tour for just a minute or two.
Before I forget, for anyone who is interested, Kilkenny Castle and Dunmore Cave aren’t that far apart, just 10-12 km (6-8 miles). Dunmore Cave is in County Kilkenny and is just north of the town. So it wouldn’t be very hard at all to visit both sites in a day or afternoon.
And so ends another Roberta trip/Ireland post. Hopefully I’ll update again really soon. What I should do is set a schedule to update like Jenna Marbles does for her youtube videos. That’s an idea. Anyway, I shall leave you guys with this picture of the gardens behind Kilkenny Castle.