September 19, 2009
“Accelerate to 88 kilometers per hour!”
We woke up in the hostel in Cashel, which is a pretty small town, and checked out. We strolled down the street to the bake shop for pastries, and I had my usual orange juice; Andy had his usual coffee (nasty habit). The hostel lady told us to move the car by 9:30 so we went back to move it to the rock where we were headed. But someone had painted some sort of black stripe down the side of it! It was pretty stressful. We tried to wipe it off with one of Andy’s old socks but it didn’t really work.
There wasn’t anything to do about it so we just tried not to worry until the time came. The Rock of Cashel was nothing like the Stone of Turoe (which is what we were expecting.) It was actually a giant hill on which was built a settlement in the 400s. It was very interesting because there were three buildings right next to each other: a round tower, a chapel, and a Cathedral that was built in between the two. It was built close enough to the other buildings that the design had to be modified quite a bit: windows were moved and the long and short ends were switched from their usual design. We took a lot of pictures and took the tour, which I listened to intently but Andy mostly ignored.
There was also a small museum and an A/V presentation and we took our time and let it all sink in.
We decided at this point that we wanted to get the car handled and stay at a hotel near the airport in Dublin this night , so we had better be on our way. We headed in that direction but wanted to stop for at least one more thing and it’s lucky we did.
We drove along the sometimes-highway sometimes-motorway. It wasn’t very stressful since we had plenty of time and it was the nicest highway we had been on. The only interesting thing that happened during the drive was we were held up by the National Ploughing Championships in a little town called Abbeyleix. The traffic for the championships was kind of brutal, but we listened to Irish radio and stuck it out. We found the whole thing very cute.
The place we ended up stopping was called Kildare. On the map it was marked as “Kildare Round Tower.” We pulled up to the Tower and Cathedral but there was no one around. We walked around not knowing what to do. There was a car parked in the parking lot, though, and a woman got out and told us that the person who runs the tower was at lunch and would be along shortly. She also was working in the Cathedral that day as the curator has Saturdays off. When the man arrived, he opened the Cathedral and we went in.
It was a lot like the other Cathedrals we had seen except this one was dedicated to St. Brigid, who apparently founded the church, the town, and was ordained a bishop “accidentally” even though she was a woman. Her story was fun and inspiring. The lady at the church talked to us about Obama and what we had done in Ireland and our ancestry. She was very sweet.
We were excited to be able to go up in the round tower. We had seen 3 or 4 in our travels but hadn’t been allowed to go inside any of them. The guide told us that this was only one of two where it was allowed. We had to climb 7 14 foot ladders to get to the top, and it was a very tight space. The view was magnificent and I fully recommend doing it if you can handle the enclosed spaces on the way up. The guide sent us to a museum in town where we watched another A/V presentation, this one hosted by a ghost who knew St. Brigid. It was cute and quirky.
At this point, we were pretty worn out. We headed back to Dan Dooley car rentals to turn in the car. The only thing was: the stripe. I was pretty worried about this. Andy was worried too that I would end up paying the €1000 deductible, which is a whole lot.
The woman at the counter wasn’t sure if I would have to. She did successfully identify the cause of the mark: black magic marker. Then she called over the person who gets the cars ready for rental to see if he could remove it. He said the only thing he knew to try would be petrol. He brought some over and started wiping and it was coming off! I was saved! The attendant said “Thomas, you are a great man.” And I said “Yes, Thomas, you are a great man indeed!” and he blushed and said he wasn’t. But he totally was.
After we turned in the car, we went to the airport to try to find a hotel to stay at. We picked up the red courtesy phones but we could only find one hotel with vacancies, and they were charging an arm and a leg! Apparently, the all-Ireland football finals were that weekend in Dublin, and everything was booked up. This is like their Superbowl and we had been hearing about it all week. We considered ourselves lucky to find a vacancy and paid the rate, taking the hotel shuttle.
We hung out in the hotel bar for a few hours and watched football and wondered if we might meet some people, but we didn’t. There was a wedding at the hotel and Andy kept ribbing me about bridesmaids while we drank our cider but none of them ever really emerged. We watched Casino Royale in our hotel room and went to sleep.
I won’t write about the last day, a travel day, except to say that we saw a motorcycle accident just outside our hotel as we were waiting for the shuttle. That was the only eventful thing that happened. Oh, and Andy calculated the number of pictures we had taken and the number taken on each particular day. The total came out to around 940, which you can divide by 8 to get the per-day total. Most of them were on his camera.
You’ve seen some of them in these blog posts but you can see the best of our Ireland pictures (pared down to about 400ish) on Google Photo.
Here is a map of where we went on this our eighth day: