Day 9 – Thursday Aug. 24, 2006
The next morning we had breakfast at the Currigeen Castle B&B. We drove over to the Swiss Cottage and went on the short tour. Noël bought one of the booklets about the cottage in French – they had been out of the English version for some time. Then we drove back to Cahir and headed over to Clonmel.
We arrived in Clonmel from the west and started our search for a map of the town. The first grocery store didn’t have any so we looped around and found a parking lot, south of the center of town, between the River Suir and the center of the city. Finally, we found a free map at a newspaper store and were able to figure out exactly where we were. We walked west down O’Connell Street toward
the West Gate of the old town wall with Irishtown just beyond the gate. According to the sign in front of the gate the Irish lived just outside the town gate in an area appropriately called Irishtown. Years ago the Irish had been required to leave the town in the evening.
In the window, of a music store on O’Connell Street, Noël spied two tiny harps and of course she had to go in and check them out. They didn’t have any information printed on them as to the manufacturer or in what country they had been manufactured. Evidently they had been around for a while and the storeowner was trying to get rid of them. He claimed some guy pulled up in a car one day and had a bunch of these harps with him in his car. So he bought a few from the guy but then he never saw him again.
We continued walking east, back down O’Connell Street, toward the car park, and took a left onto Gladstone Street and went up about a block to the pedestrian walkway. The right turn into the walkway was right on the corner were Father Sheehy was hanged many years ago. We walked to the far end of the walkway and found a small bookstore so we went in for a while to look around and wound up buying a couple books on castles and tower houses in Connaught and Ulster provinces. Noël tried another store, in vain, in her continuing search for Terry’s Twilight Mints.
Now it was time for some more driving, and we headed back to the car. We drove west looking for a bridge to take us over the River Suir. Once over the river we were in Co. Waterford and headed west and then south toward Kilmanahan looking for the remains of old castles. Several were shown on the maps and the one at Kilmanahan was supposed to be substantial. We kept going until our “unlined road” met a larger crossroad. On the other side of the crossroad
there were the ruins of another ancient church and an attached graveyard of unknown name. To the west we would be headed toward Dungarvan but that was too far away for us on this trip – Waterford would have to wait until the next trip. We did drive a few more kilometers toward Dungarvan, in a final effort to find the Castle at Kilmanahan, but without any success. We checked both sides of the road but there were no ruins to be seen.
We retraced our trail back through the northwestern corner of Co. Waterford until we reached Knocklofty Bridge that led over the River Suir and back into Co. Tipperary. We were looking for a short cut to Cashel and didn’t want to go all the way back into Clonmel. As fate would have it I took the wrong road and we were headed east toward Clonmel. As we passed the Marlfield property I remembered another shortcut that went by St. Patrick’s Well (one of the many holy springs all over Ireland). When I saw the St. Patrick’s Well sign I took the left turn. I knew that road would come out on the Cahir-Clonmel road and it would save us a trip back through Clonmel. And that would be at a point just east of the cut off to another shortcut that would by pass Cahir and put us on the N8 road headed into Cashel.
Once in Cashel, we went straight to the Brú Ború Center and bought a couple tickets (14 Euros each) for that evenings performance. We looked around the gift shop and then walked back through the town to look for a place to eat dinner. We finally decided to eat at a small place called Ryan’s Daughter. It was on Lady’s Well Street just around the corner from the Rock of Cashel.
After dinner we walked back to the Brú Ború Center with about an hour to go before the performance began at 9 PM. There was a large theater off to the side of the gift shop where the show was to be held. A large crowd eventually showed up but there were more than enough seats to go around. There were over 20 performers in the troupe with many of them serving double duty playing instruments and singing and/or dancing. The regular performance was 90 minutes followed by an informal performance in a banquet room at the other end of the center. This was really just a way to get the crowd to stick around long enough to buy a couple rounds of drinks. Some of the folks in the audience took turns performing. There was some dancing, both professional and amateur. This lasted about an hour and then we drove back to Cahir arriving around midnight. This was really dark. Our first two trips to Ireland were in June when the sun barely goes down and twilight reigns all through the night. This was now August and it definitely got dark at night at the end of August.