Ireland Trip: 3–Carlow. Carlow!?? …and Kilkenny

“Carlow!??” The taxi driver was incredulous, “why the feck (yes, that’s with an “e”) would you be going there?”

We all laughed. Not only are taxi drivers the best source for down to earth tourist information but also they can be the best entertainers. He’d picked us up just in front of Bewleys, Ballsbridge and right away, from the twinkle in his eye and the laugh in his voice we figured we were in for a good ride.

Besides, the way the other driver had asked, “are you SURE you really want to be going with that fella? There’s plenty better drivers in the city,” left little room for doubt.

Along the way he told us (1) about the city, (2) where we should eat and play on the return trip and (3) how we were nuts for wanting to go to Carlow. When I tried to explain how we wanted to get to Kilkenny castle and accommodations at that town was far too expensive (owing to the bank holiday weekend) and, besides, we’d always wanted to go “up to Carlow” he good-naturedly told me to, “ahhh shut up, I’m trying to tell you a few things!” Lesley and Josephine laughed far too much at that…

About a km before the station we came to a detour that would take us an extra half-km out-of-the-way. He turned off the meter then and there at €13, “Sure, that’s enough to be chargin’ ye…” and kept up his spiel.

We arrived at the station, as it turned out, significantly early.

“I don’t want to be leavin’ you here like this,” he said. “I can wait.”

The meter was off.

“No, we’ll be fine,” I said and passed him a twenty. “No change.” The trip should have cost at least that and, besides…the entertainment value!

“Jaysis! I don’t want all of that!” He passed back a five and I knew better than to refuse it.

The Irish seem to think their public transportation system sucks. It does not! If you ever go to Ireland be sure to use the site www.getthere.ie

The Irish seem to think their public transportation system sucks. It does not! Lots of routes, on time, quiet clean vehicles, WiFi and reasonable rates. If you ever go to Ireland be sure to use the site getthere.ie

Why not rent a car? So many reasons: first, there’s the matter of driving on the opposite side of the road, second, parking, third, the fact that Irish drivers are…ummm… a little less forgiving than the ones in Newfoundland. Where I live, for example, if, on a residential street, about 100 m up ahead, you see someone stepping out to cross over, you take your foot off the gas and hover it above the brake, just in case. In Dublin, the procedure is somewhat different. Drivers are expected to put the accelerator to the floor and lean on the horn. I think it’s a form of sport, or perhaps a constant rite of passage for those who walk.

It’s also true that you really do not have to get a car when you are Ireland. The buses are downright cheap, and make frequent runs so you never have to wait long. The trains, too, are frequent and fast. Most buses and trains have free WiFi and, besides, the view from the passenger seat is so much better when you don’t have to keep your eyes on the road. Taxis can be inexpensive entertainment.

All that aside, the real value is in interacting with the people you get to meet when you leave your own little bubble and having a bit of fun  with the ones you get to share your space with.

Two nights in Carlow…

The Liberty Tree sculpture serves as a reminder of Ireland's often bloody history. Today, however, the space is tranquil.

The Liberty Tree sculpture serves as a reminder of Ireland’s often bloody history. Today, however, the space is tranquil.

Two rivers meet. Some say that Carlow, or, more accurately "Ceatharlach" or perhaps even Ceatharloch which means four lakes. Who knows? I do know that this quiet place feels ancient...

Two rivers meet. Some say that Carlow, or, more accurately “Ceatharlach” or perhaps even Ceatharloch might mean “four lakes.” Who knows? I do know that this quiet place feels ancient.

What a great name for a pub. Oh, my, another ear worm.

What a great name for a pub! Oh, my, another ear worm.

Tom had mentioned that one of the things to do in Carlow would be to just walk along the river--rivers actually. Tom was right.

Tom had mentioned that one of the things to do in Carlow would be to just walk along the river–rivers actually. Tom was right.

The second song that kept going through my mind was one my Father often sang. It has the line "tomorrow the Barrow we'll cross." I could not get it off mind as I crossed the Graiguecullen Bridge. The original structure (mostly rebuilt in the 1800s) dates to the 1500s

The second song that kept going through my mind was one my Father often sang. It has the line “tomorrow the Barrow we’ll cross.” I could not get it off mind as I crossed the Graiguecullen Bridge. The original structure (mostly rebuilt in the 1800s) dates to the 1500s. Did I mention that Dad was a “fine hand to sing?” No? That’s because he wasn’t 🙂 It never stopped him, though.

Lesley on the way to what remains of carlow castle. This 13th C Norman castle was partially demolished in 1814--blown up by those who wished to construct a "Modern Lunatic Asylum" on the site. Please--who, exactly, was the crazy one?

Lesley on the way to what remains of Carlow Castle. This 13th C Norman castle was partially demolished in 1814–blown up by those who wished to construct a “Modern Lunatic Asylum” on the site. Please–who, exactly, were the crazy ones?

Inside Carlow Cathedral. Quite a set of pipes.

Inside Carlow Cathedral. Quite a set of pipes.

The grounds behind "Avlon House," our B&B. Tom, the proprietor, was an excellent host; VERY helpful.

The grounds behind “Avlon House,” our B&B. Tom, the proprietor, was an excellent host; VERY helpful. The food was awesome, WiFi great and the place was elegant and spotless. Five stars from me. Recommended.

Me and Martin, hanging out. Martin was visiting from a town near Brighton; attending a Wedding.

Me and Martin, hanging out. Martin was visiting from a town near Brighton; attending a Wedding and also stayed at Avlon House. We had a few laughs, can’t you tell?

…and a day trip over to Kilkenny.

 

It's not hard to tell this place caters to tourists

It’s not hard to tell this place caters to tourists

Kilkenny Castle, built in the 12 C but restored to more or ess the way it was in the 19th. Anne Boelyn's Nan, for example, was born here.

Kilkenny Castle, built in the 12 C but restored to more-or-less the way it was in the 19th. Anne Boelyn’s Grannie, for example, was born here.

What's in a name?

What’s in a name?

Not all of the princesses at Kilkenny castle were of the Butler family :-)

Not all of the princesses at Kilkenny castle were of the Butler family 🙂

The river Nore. Want to see the other end of it? Stay tuned...

The river Nore. Want to see the other end of it? Stay tuned…

The Rose Garden.  I never promised you this...

Lesley and Josephine heading for the Rose Garden. I never promised them this…

St. Canice's Cathedral. The saint is the city's namesake: Kilkenny is more accurately Cill Chainnigh, or Church of Cainnech (Canise).

St. Canice’s Cathedral. The saint is the city’s namesake: Kilkenny is more accurately Cill Chainnigh, or Church of Cainnech (Canise). LORD!!! The spelling!!!

Those dark alleyways; okay by day but, by night? Not so sure.

Those dark alleyways; okay by day but, by night? Not so sure… No odds, we were back in Carlow by then.

It turned out that the driver was wrong about just one thing: Carlow was worth the visit! …as was Kilkenny.

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About Maurice A. Barry

Coordinator: Teaching and Learning Commons, Faculty of Education, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Parent & Husband. eLearning consultant/coordinator. Program Development Specialist - eLearning (Department of Education; Retired). Writer: over 40 Math/Physics texts/webs. Developer & Manager of web content. Geek. Not into awards but loves comments.
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24 Responses to Ireland Trip: 3–Carlow. Carlow!?? …and Kilkenny

  1. Marie says:

    Traveling vicariously today so that I might catch up a bit on your adventures.

  2. tw says:

    The rose garden that you never promised is very pretty but I especially like the ruins and alleyways. So much history, so many stories held in those walls and now they hold your visit too 🙂

  3. Love your holiday snaps and love the Irish as I will have to admit my Father’s side came from there, most probably as a convict as all the British call us Australians. Proud to have a mixed heritage and enjoyed your tour Maurice.

    • LOL, Newfoundland and Labrador are also pretty Irish/English too. Many think–wrongly–that it’s somehow due to the potato famine. While that may be true for parts of the US, the Push-Pull factor was different here. The economy was traditionally based on the fishery and the boats were mostly owned by English merchants. The crews, though, often came from Ireland or, perhaps the poorer parts of England. They were paid as a share of the catch and needed to pay the owners back for passage to and from Newfoundland. Many crew members, upon being paid, wasted it all away, drinking in St. John’s and, thus, were unable to pay their way back.
      Of course many more simply saw a possibility for a better life here too and chose to stay.

  4. Thanks for the tour Maurice. My mother always recited this little poem … and it seems to have stuck with me.

    There once were two cats of Kilkenny,
    Each thought there was one cat too many,
    So they fought and they fit,
    And they scratched and they bit,
    Till, excepting their nails
    And the tips of their tails,
    Instead of two cats, there weren’t any.

    Whenever I would get into a bit of a mix up with one or the other of my sisters, my Mom would refer to us as those Cats from Kilkenny.

    As I was reading this current post I was wondering how Seonaid would have gotten over to meet you (as described in your first of these posts) … in Dublin? Would she have taken a ferry across from Scotland? Silly me … have no idea of the answer?

    D

  5. SJ O'Hart says:

    I wish to heartily apologise for greeting your announcement that you were going to Carlow with ‘what on earth are you doing a thing like that for?’ 😀 Your trip sounds brilliant, your photos are beautiful, and I’m so glad you had a great time. I guess people who live in this fair isle don’t see the beauties it holds as readily as someone who comes from outside. So, thank you for opening my sceptical old eyes. 🙂

    • LOL–now it was the taxi driver and not you who gave me a hard time over it 🙂 I liken it to the same situation in NL. There are certain places that all the tourists go to so, whenever one says they are going to an :ordinary’ place, you have to wonder why.

  6. My romantic son, who is 6/8 German and 1/16 Irish, believes he is ENTIRELY Irish. I’m hoping to take a similar trip with him someday. If/when I do, I’ll be using your blog posts as a travel guide.

    Wonderful stories and pictures. I’m so glad you’re enjoying yourselves.

  7. Tiny says:

    It’s so jolly traveling with you! I truly enjoyed the taxi ride and the visits up to Carlow and to Kilkenny! Nice pictures to go with the story from both places. I thought the blaa blaa blaa sandwiches were quite breá…

  8. Mary says:

    Carlow looks incredible …enjoyed story and snaps too. A truly memorable journey for you all . rose gardens castles and new friends and stories shared with family. Who could wish for more !

  9. elkement says:

    Great pictures – and I again I can relate to your way of discovering a foreign place! I also avoid driving in other countries unless there is zero public transport.

    Free WLAN on trains and buses – that’s great! On most airports in Europe WLAN is not for free…

  10. I agree with you about the trains. I recently travelled from Galway to Dublin and I have absolutely no complaints!

    • Hi Andrew! I was quite amazed, in fact to hear one Irish person after another apologize for what they considered the sorry state of public transportation. Clearly they’d never visited Newfoundland Labrador!

  11. I don’t remember Carlow, not sure if I’ve been. I do remember the Kilkenny cats poem.

    Love the rose garden caption. Used to love that song.

    The B&B looks great, beautiful courtyard and nice-looking building.

    • Thanks! It’s often worth it to take a trip just a bit out of the way. It’s my experience that the more interesting stuff–at least the unique stuff–lies there.

      • After travelling around the world in my twenties, I came to the opposite conclusion, ie that the best places to visit (on a limited schedule and budget) are the classics eg Paris and specifically for me, Sacre Coeur, Athens and the Parthenon, India and the Taj Mahal, Nepal for the Himalayas, Sydney for the bridge and the opera house, Skara brae in the Orkneys, Callanish in the Hebrides, Rome for the archaeology, oh and the nice painted ceiling somewhere…

        But it depends on the purpose of the trip too. We travelled into Clifden (?) in Ireland one wet and windy evening for dinner, and I loved it. No reason, but the atmosphere of the place just grabbed me. Some out of the way places do that.

  12. M. Hatzel says:

    This post lived up to my anticipation. Any story that begins with ‘why the feck’ said by a cheeky taxi cab driver has high standards to meet if it is to carry through. 🙂

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