Where We Be
Rock of Cashel & Kilkenny, Ireland
During our drive from Coachford to Dublin on
the penultimate day of our trip, we paused
along the way to see the Rock of Cashel, an
impressive castle rising above the plains of
Tipperary. The oldest and tallest building on the
site is the round tower dating from ~1100. We
didn’t go in, just enjoyed the views from the
outside. Just down the hill we discovered a
ruined abbey that was also quite photogenic.

We drove another hour to Kilkenny, which Rick
Steves calls the best medieval town in Ireland.
It was a little too crowded for our taste -- or at
least the central shopping streets were. But we
liked Kilkenny Castle. The best part was the
huge green park making up the grounds. The
views of the castle from the park are beautiful.
Afterwards we drove across town to St. Canice's
Cathedral and Round Tower. The cathedral has
the second longest nave in Ireland. But the real
highlight is climbing the round tower: it’s tall
and thin with 250 ladderlike steps and is one of
only two round towers you can climb in Ireland.
Some of the best views of the Rock of Cashel are from a distance
where you can see the castle towering over the plains of Tipperary
For us, one of the highlights of Kilkenny was Kilkenny
Castle with its huge green lawn and surrounding parkland
Close by is the River Nore itself with its picturesque bridge
The castle has become one of the most visited tourist sites in
Ireland. It has existed in one form or another since 1195.
The castle commands a crossing on the
River Nore and is the centerpiece of the city
We can definitely see the attraction of all the quaint shops in this medieval city,
but with the car traffic it was a bit too popular for our taste -- at least in midsummer
Our other favorite site in town was Saint Canice's Cathedral and Round Tower.
The closely packed, canted gravestones only add to the sense of ancientness.
Also known as Kilkenny Cathedral, it dates from the 13th
century and is the second longest cathedral in Ireland
We particularly enjoyed climbing up the round tower. Be prepared for ladderlike stairs and
something like 250 steps. When people are coming up and down it can be hard to  get by each
other, but there are platforms between the “ladders” that allow you to pass if you sort of hug the wall.
You get into the raised entrance of the tower by a ladder (shown at center) that could have been
pulled up in ancient times to ward off attackers. If you like little adventures, this is a fun one.
From the top platform you get good views of the city, but we think
the round tower itself may be the most photogenic structure in Kilkenny
From the round tower platform you get a good view of Kilkenny Castle in the distance
(look to the far left corner of the photo above this one for some perspective)
One last view looking straight down from the top of the Round Tower
shows the long nave of the cathedral and the surrounding gravestones
An unexpected bonus was seeing Hore Abbey, a
ruined Cistercian monastery near the Rock of Cashel
We could have done without the scaffolding,
but otherwise it's a pretty cool castle!
The oldest of the buildings is the round tower, which is  90 feet
tall. It dates from around 1100 and was built without mortar.
On the way to Kilkenny, as we drove through the countryside, we
couldn't resist pulling over to check out the ruins of Clomantagh Castle
Near the ruins we took this photo of the Irish countryside
through an arch of hedges, with a leaning gravestone in front