This morning we left Galway to move toward Limerick. our first stop of the morning was at a place just outside the city called King John’s Castle, a 13th-century castle located on King’s Island in Limerick, Ireland, next to the River Shannon. We only had about an hour so we did not have time to do the tour inside the castle, but we took the time to walk around the outside and down along the Shannon a ways to get a better view. We then went into downtown Limerick, where we had a bit more time to explore. I decided to stop off at a cafe I passed and have a chai latte to give myself a little energy boost before walking around. After that, I made my way down through the city center until I happened upon a visitors center. The lovely lady at the front desk gave me a map of town and circled the museums and market place, and gave me directions on how to get to the one nearby. This museum was a small building with only about 4 rooms open to the public. Two of the exhibits I found most intriguing there were about the Limerick Lace and Silver trade. From the 1600’s to 1800’s, Limerick silver was some of the highest quality and traded all over the world, gracing the tables of many royals and other wealthy members of European society. Much of the lace was the same, with many of it being completed by hand by the women of Limerick, who were known for taking great pride in the fabric masterpieces they created. It took me only a few short minutes to see all I wanted to, so I decided to find my way toward the market she had pointed out on the map, hopping to find myself something to snack on for lunch. I have to admit that I was disappointed when I reached Milk Market. I am used to the bustling summer markets of Europe, so when I walked in to only about a 12 or so stalls selling limited items, I was a little sad. However, I ended up bumping into two of the other ladies I’d met in our group and we decided to go check out one more museum on out way back to the bus. The Hunt Museum was much larger in size than the first I had visited, so I was glad for the half hour we still had left to explore all three floors (if still somewhat quickly). Kris and Allyson are a fun pair to explore with, so I had an enjoyable time talking to them about the trip so far and other trips we’d been on as we went through each exhibits.
After walking around Limerick, we took of for our next destination: the Rock of Cashel. This is a ruin that has a rather unique history. When we arrived, we had to climb up a large hill toward ruins surrounded by a large stone walls. Once inside the gate, we were greeted by our tour guide, Susan. As we gathered around the cathedral entrance, she began giving us a detailed retelling of the history of “The Rock” and how it has gone from being the seat of the high kings, to a cathedral run by the church during the conversion from paganism to Christianity, and the conflicts between Protestantism and Catholicism. The current structure had been built of the course of 70 plus years from 1102 to 1175. That is hundreds of years before the United States of America was even founded. It’s so strange to see all the ruins across the landscape here and know that people built those before most of my home country was even inhabited by the early settlers from Europe. choir housing, the whole hill is known as the rock since it’s a rather uncommon outcropping of limestone sediment in the middle of an otherwise flat surrounding. Susan took us through the cathedral, the graveyard and also the building that used to house the church choir in olden days. It was such fun to have her as our host. You could tell by the way she spoke and answered questions that she was very educated on The Rock of Cashel and that she enjoyed her job. I wish we could have her as our guide for the rest of the tour. Her enthusiasm was invigorating, with all of us hanging on every word, engaged in each bit of information she shared.
Before long, Waterford began calling our name and we had to head off to our hotel for the evening. As we drove through town, we passed all kinds of pubs and restaurants, and we all began making plans for where we wanted to eat for the night. My parents and I selected a seafood and steak restaurant a few blocks down from the hotel. Since we were at a place that has steak and I am obsessed with anything noodle or pasta, I chose to have the Chicken and Bacon Caesar Salad as a starter followed by Penne Pasta with Pesta, topped with with Parmesan and Steak. Dad choose Haddock strips and chips, while Mom had prawn skewers with chips and salad. After the busy day and food, I was exhausted, so I headed back to the hotel to sleep for a bit. I woke up to a message about the band finding a local pub that didn’t have live music booked for the night. Nearly every member of our group headed down the street along the river to join our musicians. And boy, what a night! When we walked in, the bar was empty. With a group 37 strong, we quickly filled the small space, with more people from the street spilling in as the music began. Many of us have followed the band for years, so we all took turns singing along, taking pictures, dancing around the doorway, sitting at the bar, and swapping stories with people on tour that we haven’t spent time with yet. I spent a good portion of the evening sitting in the corner of the room, just taking in the experience. There is something to be said for seeing a bunch of people around my parents age letting loose and drinking the night away. Two hours later, I could feel the drowsy setting in again, so I took off for the hotel to settle in for the night. Tomorrow will be a walking tour of town, the crystal factory, and the nearby famine ship.
Stay tuned tomorrow for more of Waterford!