Beastie Self-Discovery on the Streets of Cork, Ireland

After our little side trip into local library culture last week, we’re back in Ireland this week. And while we may be bidding a sad (and buttery) farewell to Kilkenny, it’s time for new locales and for Finn McSpool to experience his version of self-discovery. Yeah, probably best not to guess what that means, just keep reading.

Our first stop on our final whirl through the streets of Kilkenny, according to Finn, was Black Adder. I need to stop letting him watching so much British comedy, because we’re actually stopping in at Black ABBEY. Since this place seemed a bit more somber and reflective than St. Canice’s, I kept Finn firmly locked inside my bag while Mr Husband and I checked it out.

“borrowed” from the Visit Kilkenny website

This Abbey was built way back in the early 1200s and was founded by the Dominican Black Friars (hence “Black” Abbey). These fellows may have been obedient to god, but they had other opinions about more earthly authorities and so built their church outside the city walls (which we’re going to get to in a sec) so they could retain some of their freedom to come and go as they pleased. In other words, curfew, schmerfew.

After picturing a Rowan Atkinson-esque monk thumbing his nose and making some snarky comment at a wall guard, you can step inside and marvel at the abbey’s stained glass.

After this moment of reflection it was time to stroll down and grab some lunch in the cafe in the undercroft of the nearby St Mary’s Cathedral. Seriously, if you’re ever in Kilkenny GO there…the food is inexpensive, filling, and super tasty and the staff is warm and welcoming. This guy heard we were going and look how sad he was that he couldn’t join us.

Poor puppy

After lunch it was time for more exploring of Kilkenny’s medieval streets that (much like Edinburgh and York) feature oodles of narrow little secret passageways between the main thoroughfares such as this… Continue reading

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Finn “Robin Hood” McSpool Takes a Detour to Waterford

We’re back with another stop on our tour of all things Finn McSpool. Finn, damn it, stop hogging the keyboard. Sorry, about that. That should read, another tour of all things Ireland. While Kilkenny is a gorgeous little town that I could nestle into for a month or more, one morning Mr Husband and I decided to take advantage of the easy connection from Kilkenny to Waterford via Dublin Coach.

We checked outside. Just a bit of rain, maybe it’ll pass by the time we finish breakfast. At the mere mention of the word “breakfast” Finn was charging down the stairs on his stubby, stripey legs and tucking into a lovely portion of pancakes….MY portion of pancakes!

At least he saved me some.

Apparently breakfast does nothing to drive away the clouds, so we grabbed our umbrellas and trekked off to the bus stop. Bus rides also do nothing to improve the weather and by the time we got to Waterford there was a steady rain coming down. Luckily, we’d planned an indoor activity: The Treasures of Waterford Medieval Museum.

Finn got all excited when he heard the word “treasure” (not as excited as hearing the word “breakfast”, but…), so we bought our tickets and were directed toward this thing.

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Finn, not using his inside voice, shouted “What in the world is that?” then dashed over to it and began exploring.

Turns out, it’s the remains of a 13th century spiral staircase. Don’t worry this doesn’t go to dizzying heights like the round tower at St Canice’s. instead it leads you down, down, down, and puts you out here….

Continue reading

Getting High in Kilkenny: St Canice’s Cathedral

Yes, that’s CANICE, not cannabis, and by high, I mean literally high, not figuratively. Now that that’s cleared up, let’s take a tour of another sight in Kilkenny, Ireland.

The Cleverly Named St. Canice’s Cathedral

St. Canice might almost sound like it’s named for a woman, but the saint in question is a fellow whose Irish name was Cainnech. Mucking through the trickery of Gaelic pronunciation that sort of comes out to the English equivalent of Kenneth. But old Cainnech must have been a casual kind of guy who preferred “Kenny”. Match that up with “cill” (pronounce “kill”) which means “church” and you have Kilkenny…the Church of Kenny. Yeah, I know, St Canice’s Cathedral sounds way more official and much less reminiscent of Footloose or Top Gun.

Footloose, footloose, kick off your Sunday shoes, ooh wee, Marie…


Stepping Into St Canice’s Cathedral

As with many European churches, there’s been a whole lotta worshipping going on at the location of St Canice’s since the 6th century. The current building dates from the 13th century and is full of all those Gothic stereotypes such as big columns, stained glass, and pointy arches to keep everything from falling in on itself.

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Until of course you get a witch involved. Continue reading

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Finn McSpool Storms Kilkenny Castle

Now that Finn McSpool gave Bloglandia a rundown of some of his favorite parts of our trip to his homeland, it’s time to start delving into a series of trip reports about all the sights he saw in Ireland, the activities he undertook, and the “situations” he is famous for getting into (and out of, thanks to my watchful eye and quick reflexes).

We’ll kick things off in noble style with Kilkenny Castle.

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The setting of this castle in a massive park and looking over the River Nore doesn’t get more scenic, although “ooh, this is a defensively strategic position” was probably more along the lines of what was going through the heads of the folks (the Anglo Normans) who first built a wooden castle on the site in 1173.

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Location, location, location!

Realizing that maybe, just mayyybe, wood wasn’t the best material for a stronghold (or for longevity in the Irish weather), a stone castle was slapped up in the early 1200s. This square (aka “very Norman”) castle came complete with towers at each corner. Three of these towers are still standing (we’ll get to what happened to the fourth). Continue reading

Ireland: Land of Beers, Breakfasts, and Beastie Friends

You’ll be glad to know that Finn McSpool has made it safely home after over two weeks of traipsing around the land of his birth. I was ready to jump into all the adventures this wooly monster had in Kilkenny, Cork, the Aran Islands, and Dublin, but Finn insisted on a post to highlight his favorite parts of his Irish homecoming: the beers, the breakfasts, and some very special (and very monstrous) friends he made in between breakfast time and beer time.

The Most Important Meal of the Day: The Irish Breakfast

Also known in more honest terms as the Irish Fry, this is a meat-and-calorie laden meal that will keep beasties and humans full until late in the afternoon. On his first morning in Kilkenny, Finn was eager to fuel his day out with one of these hearty breakfasts.

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“Wait a minute. What in the world is this? Fruit? Yogurt? Is it at least fried yogurt?” Continue reading