Our hotel in Kilkenny was meant to be a spa on the outskirts of town. Unfortunately for us the experience was rather less than expected due to the high volume of unattended children shrieking and running and bouncing off furniture in the lobby. We had booked into a hotel with an indoor pool on the week before school started. Every family in the middle of Ireland seemed to have had the same great idea!

The walk into town was about 20 minutes and we arrived  at the Smithwicks brewery just as the rain started again.

The tour was a typical brewery tour. We already know about how beer is made. We get to smell hops starting late summer in our own backyard. It certainly wasn’t as big as the Guinness experience, but its intimacy meant that while we were enjoying our complementary Smithwicks, we met a couple from Northern Ireland

We had fun chatting and trying different brews and eventually we set off together for supper with them at Kyteler’s Inn. Fish and chips and bangers and mash. Then drinks and stories. They both are retired cops from Belfast, who worked through some of Ireland’s more troubled recent history. And I think NosyNeighbour may have invited us over to their newly renovated house next Christmas (oops!)

The next morning we checked out Kilkenny Castle. Somehow we became part of a guided tour and learned loads about its history. For example, it lost its south wall when Cromwell’s forces invaded.  The Butler family owned it for hundreds of years and it was eventually sold for £50 in 1930s to be restored for the town.

Plumbing and central heating were added for the King’s visit. This included a rather large toilet to accommodate the King’s arse. It featured fabric wallpaper with lined and horsehair behind it as insulation and protection. We also learned the reason why beds were shorter back in the day. They used pillows to prop themselves up in bed. This was partly due to lung problems but also the superstition that you only lay flat to die. And while the guide said no photos inside, isn’t that why we all carry cell phones that you can turn off the flash and turn down the sound. Haha!

Once we were finished inside, we walked a bit of its 40-acre estate. The sun was out and it was great to breathe in the fresh air.

We then needed to find some Irish Whiskey. We’d decided that we would check one of the carryon pieces. And since I’d bought my yarn, the whiskey would now have the necessary padding to protect it.

Exploring the town in the sunshine gave a new perspective. We bumped into our new Irish friends, who recommended a stop at The Hole in the Wall pub. (Check!) And then we bought our whiskey and set off for our next destination, Ross Castle.

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Next stop: Overnight in a castle