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May 17, 2006: Ireland Trip - Kilkenny

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We were really lucky the past three days with the weather - in fact yesterday we actually saw a bit of sun. Today, however, the rain set in, and after traipsing around town this morning for only a short while, we decided to break down and buy umbrellas. With the wind they don't keep you from getting wet, but they do help keep you from getting completely soaked!

This morning we went to the tourist information office first, and then hit a series of bookstores, still trying to find a new copy of that book. It appears, however, that of all the travel guides available, this series simply isn't available in Ireland or the UK. So we picked up something else which seems to be quite informative on its own, and with that and the Rough Guide to Ireland, I think we'll be okay. We also discovered that Amazon.uk's idea of Priority Two-Day Shipping is actually to wait to ship it out until July, so we cancelled the order for the replacement book.

Our first stop this morning was to Kilkenny Castle. Again, no pictures allowed inside, but our tour guide was enthusiastic and informative, even with such a huge crowd of people, and told us all about the history of the place. It was built and run by the same family (the Butlers) for over 600 years, even after being overrun here and there during the various wars. The Butler influence was rather obvious throughout Kilkenny, actually, since a number of them are also buried in raised tombs inside St. Canice's Cathedral, which is located at the other end of the town and which has been actively used for over 800 years.

We've done a lot of wandering around the town today. It's obviously much larger than Trim, and although we don't recognize most of the shop names, the main streets of town are crammed with stores, a few of which I remember seeing in Trim, so I suspect a few might be chains. My umbrella broke while we were at the Cathedral, but the store very nicely let me exchange it (a good example of why it's important to hang onto your receipts).

It's been a slower day than the previous ones on our trip so far, but I think we needed it. We've had more time to walk around (despite the rain) and take in the town; to stop at little coffee shops and tea shops along the way, and to get thoroughly soaked several times (hence the stopping at coffee shops and tea shops to warm up and dry out!).

We ate fish chowder for lunch in an extremely crowded pub, and had a more leisurely dinner at a rather nice restaurant downtown - our first two non-breakfast meals in Ireland that did not have either fries (chips) or coleslaw. So far every single meal has had one or more of the following three things: some kind of potatoes (often more than one form dish), the aforementioned coleslaw, or brown bread, which seems to be a rather dense and hearty whole-grain recipe (it's really good).

Not as many pictures from today, since we couldn't take pictures at the castle, and the rain's been a bit too much for any pictures of things outdoors, but those pictures we took are available here.

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