Our day began casually with a little laundry (meaning – leaving your clothing for someone else to do because Ireland hasn’t heard of a coin-op) and coffee and pastry outside in a side street café.
We drove to Kells on our way to Waterford and spent time trudging around the Kells Priory which is situated on a grassy hill with scores of large lazy sheep, our presence only somewhat disquieting their calm. [Meaningless side note: Something I have noticed is that there are nettles everywhere, in the fields, on the hills, and even filling the ruins of the St. Kieran’s church at Kells.]
We pulled into Waterford just in time for the tour we intended to take of the city. Several features are interesting about this, initially early Viking and then Norman, seaport city, but I will mention just a couple. The first is that both the Catholic and the Protestant cathedrals were built at about the same time, by the same man (along with most of the other important buildings), John Roberts, who was a Protestant that had 22 children. Both of these churches were lovely – and strikingly different along Catholic and Protestant lines. The other interesting this is that we had an opportunity to go up into Reginald’s Tower, a four story tower with walls 10’ thick and has stood proudly and fully intact since 1185 without much by way of repair or restoration. It was the first building in Ireland that was fired upon by canons, with no damage.
WATERFORD CASTLE: Absolutely stunning! As we drove up the lane to the castle through a tunnel of brilliantly green trees we got our first glimpse of the wildlife, a pair of Pheasants waiting to greet us. Upon entering the grand reception area one is treated to the smells of age, grandeur and the smoke of the great open fireplace. We were shown to the “Rose Suite” which is a lavish treat to the senses. Its antique luxury is surpassed only by its stately beauty. There are only 19 total rooms at the castle, and we have one of only 5 suites.
After taking the SKODA to the car park I briefly walked around the circumference. The grounds are both orderly and rustic at once. Ivy and Wisteria cover much of the front, will all manner of trees and perennials scattered about. There are 20’ rhododendrons in full bloom (the Irish hydrangeas being past bloom).
We relaxed, walked around the grounds together (we saw the largest rabbits I’ve ever seen), had a drink in the formal bar. Amy went up early to take a bath in the beautiful, even ornate, bathroom (her favorite part of the suite), while I made some notes and a post to the travel blog. Dinner was at 7:30, a three hour four course, the likes of which are rarely experienced. I began with lobster risotto, potato leek soup, and was given a special appetizer, compliments of the chef, of smoked mackerel with a saffron sauce. My entrée was the roasted breast of duck, and for dessert, a hot pear and hazelnut tart with an incomparably creamy ice cream and coffee. Back to the room for award winning wine, compliments of the castle and enjoying the blessings of it all. For both of us I think, this was the most romantic, glamorous and beautiful place of our lives.
We got up unreasonably early so that we don’t miss any moment possible of our time here.