En Route to Kilkenny

Goodbye Woollen Mills Hotel

The night before, we had all decided that we would have a relaxed morning at the hotel and eat breakfast before we checked out to head to our next location. Suzy and Elin ended up hearing about a car boot sale, where people sell stuff out of the "boot" (trunk) of their cars, happening in the morning. They decided to prioritize shopping over hotel breakfast. And Randy, Cole, and Grayden just didn't make it in time. But Dylan and I had what turned out to be an outstanding breakfast!

Smithwicks Experience in Kilkenny

We left Blarney around noon and couldn't check into our next place until 4pm. Even with the drive, we knew that we would have time to kill. So what did we do? We did another brewery tour! Smithwicks is one of the major breweries in Ireland, and it's located in Kilkenny, which is the closest city to where we are staying.

The tour was pretty cheesy. (A hologram of a monk explained part of the history of the brewery to us.) But I liked learning about the brewery's history which was wrapped up in the history of Irish/English and Catholic/Protestant tension. I also liked that we got to taste "wort," which is pretty much beer before it is fermented by yeast to become beer.

We also, of course, got to taste the brewery's three main beers at the end of the tour.

By the time we finished our beers, it was time to head to the house we had rented. We also made a quick stop for some Chinese take out (Grayden and Randy were really jonesing for Chinese food after our failed attempt to eat some the night before) and other snacks. Dylan and I also picked up some soap and toothpaste. Apparently, one bar of soap and one tube of toothpaste was not enough for three months.

The drive to our rental ended up being quite harrowing. The owners, who actually live on the property that they rent out, had sent us gps coordinates instead of an address and offered to meet us in town if we got lost, so we knew that it would be pretty remote. But we didn't expect such a terrifyingly narrow and long road to get to the house. The photos don't quite capture how tight it was. Because hidden beneath what looks like overgrown bushes on both sides are stone walls! Our beloved mini bus had gotten a few scratches in a parking garage the day before. I think we added a few more on this road.

But the drive was definitely worth it! The house and yard here are incredible! According to the owners who showed us around the place, it was built by a couple of musicians (the staircase was designed to look like a harp) who sold it after a few years. It's a huge, three story house with giant windows. I did my best to document everything.

After we had explored the house and immediate yard, Randy, Grayden and Suzy went to check out the pasture that was right behind where we were staying. Randy had been wondering for days about how friendly all of the farm animals in Ireland are and saying that he wanted to pet some cows and sheep. Turns out he got his chance!

At first, the cows were hanging out in the middle of the pasture. Randy called out to the cows, both in English and by moo-ing. They all turned and stared. It was a little creepy. But Randy was determined. He started pulling up grass from the yard and offering it to the cows. Soon, he had lots of friends. They didn't like getting petted, but they were all about the long grass.

We ended the day with a little bit of card playing, complemented by beer and mead drinking and cookie eating.