What We Did Today: After a full Ayerish breakfast including baked beans and a potato that looked like a waffle we were back in the car on our way to Kilkenny. The curbs and street corners minded their place and I decided leave them be. There were very few cars on the highway and that made the driving fun. The liquid sunshine of Dublin gave way to actual sun in Kilkenny. Yay!!!
Kilkenny is built around a castle with charming skinny streets and colorful storefronts and pubs.
Once we checked in and Bob, the house dog (above) at Butler Court, helped us unload and check out our rooms we were off to Kilkenny Castle. The original stone castle was built c.1146-1219. The grounds were gorgeous and the inside is partially restored and even contains some furniture original to the home. The self-guided tour allowed us to linger and really take it in. Afterwards we stopped in the Tea Room, housed in the original castle kitchen, for a quick bite and met a couple from County Meath. They shared some great stories of travels through Ireland and gave us a short list of must see places in Northern Ireland.
Below is the entrance to the castle from the street (with Dennis and I at the gate), then the main entrance once inside the gate, and the last photo is taken from the rose garden in the back.
We then made our way through town, on foot, to Smithwick's Brewery (pronounced Smithick). After the tour we all enjoyed a pint of Smithick's Ale and a sip of their pale ale while chatting with a couple from Florida and a couple from Austrailia. Some of you know I'm not a beer drinker and I had the WHOLE glass... it was really good! It's really too bad we cannot get this ale in the US. We learned Smithwick's, who was owned by Guinnes, are both now owed by Diagio and the Kilkenny brewery will be closed after a 300 year history in this quaint town.
The second photo below is the ruins of an actual Abbey located within the walls of the brewery.
What I Learned Today: It's all about the beer. The proper way to poor a pint of beer from the tap is...fill the glass half full, then "tree-quarters" full, then all the way full and finally top it off with foam. The bubbles in beer should always be clear. The reason Stout is so dark is because of all the roasted malt in the beer. Smithwick's Ale has a ruby red color because it uses only some roasted malt. I also learned you can pick out different ingredients of the beer by swirling the glass, getting your nose in it and taking a deep breath. Just like sniffing wine.
Word for the Day: Two words and one phrases today. We met so many great people today including a couple retired ladies at dinner who asked about American politics, warned us about pick pocketers, and answered our questions about their terminology.
- Haven't a sou: Common phrase used in Ireland to express you don't have any money
- Footpath: A sidewalk
- Slainte (pronounced Slonta): Our version of "cheers" - as in you raise your pint of Smithick's and say "Slainte!"
So what about that Irish Whisky you ask? We flipped on the bathroom light when we got to the hotel tonight and the fan was banging and clanging like mad. We called Yvonne, the delightful owner, to let her know we thought it was worth her time to come have a look-see. Dean helped her dismantle the fan and disconnect the electrical wires. She was so happy for the handyman work, she offered us a glass of Ayerish Whiskey. Would you have turned that one down? When she returned we each had two fingers of whiskey served in Waterford cut crystal glasses, with a side pitcher of chilled water to finish!
Tomorrow we're off to the Rock of Cashel, Waterford to check out the crystal, then to Kinsale on the southern coast.
P.S. - I know I'm truly on vacation because I bought shoes today ;-)
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