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Ireland Day 7 – Castles and Abbeys

July 10, 2012

We left our hostel in Kinsale and hit the road for Dublin! Of course, we had a couple of stops planned along the way.

Hi Jake!

First stop was Cahir Castle. We parked and walked the perimeter of the castle before heading inside. It’s important to always walk the perimeter first and has nothing to do with my wonderful navigational skills.

It has a moat! And waterfowl! and a castle in the background.

Cahir Castle is in the town of Cahir. Crazy, huh?  It’s situated on the banks of the River Suir.

It was built in 1142 by the O’Briens. Then it was given to the Butlers who had it for a long time. Eventually the O’Briens got it back.  According to our tour guide, the reason it is in such good shape is because when Cromwell came to take over the castle, he sent a note inside. The note said something along the lines of “surrender the castle or expect the standard punishment.” The standard punishment was for them to take the castle by force and kill everyone inside. The people inside got together and thought about it for a couple minutes, then handed over the keys. I probably would have done the same thing.

This is the outer courtyard area:

See that wall? Back in the day, servants would be living in tents along the wall. I bet it was COLD!! I hope they had warm blankets.

This gate that you drop down and bangs shut killing any poor schmuck who happens to be under it? It’s called a portcullis. It takes about 1.5 seconds to shut and about 2 days to wind back up.

This door is not Jake sized. Actually most of the doors were very short. Not only where the people shorter back then, but they also purposely made the doors short because it would require people to stoop to get through them. If the stooping party was part of an invading army, chances are by stooping over, you would be able to chop his head off before he made it all the way through the doorway.

After our tour, the tourguide said “Now remember, the doors are short. Watch your head. The stairs were specifically designed to kill people. Watch your step. There are only a few places with handrails and/or guardrails, so make sure you don’t fall off a ledge. Have fun. Don’t kill yourself.”  This may be paraphrased, but that was the gist of it. I was in awe, because that kind of attitude would never fly here. It’s not ADA compliant! OMG! This door is short! I hit my head! My coffee is too hot!

These stairs are a trip! (ba da bum! I’ll be here all week. Try the veal!). Seriously though, each step was a different height which increases the odds of someone tripping, especially if that someone is in full battle armour. They are also REALLY steep. And they spiral counterclockwise (if you’re going up) because that would force the attackers to attack with their left hands, and allow the defenders to use their right. It is amazing how much thought went into building the castle because everything is dual purpose. The first is whatever the standard purpose of such a thing might be (stairs, for instance) and second is to kill you.

Why do I wrinkle my nose like that?! why?! why?! I always do it and as soon as I see the picture, I think “OMG! I’m squishing my nose again. Such a nerd.”

See? No handrail and no guardrail! You could just fall off!

Look! It’s a long-crested weir in Ireland!! I design these things at home for work! Except mine aren’t that big.

Here’s the view of Cahir from the castle:

It’s the dungeon!!!

Jake sitting on the castle wall.

Archers had to shoot through these slots in the wall.

Cannon ball imbedded in the wall from one of the battles.

Don’t steal the ring buoy. You’ll kill someone.

Then we left Cahir Castle and headed to Jerpoint Abbey.

Welcome to Jerpoint Abbey! Founded in the 12th century and has a bunch of very detailed carvings of Apostles and Saints. It was in use until King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries.


Amazing architecture

Carving of a knight.

It was shocking to us that people are able to visit these ancient sites and actually touch everything. At home, all these things would be behind protective glass and you wouldn’t even be able to think of touching it.

Hmm…is it just me or does this guy look like he has a stomach ache?

After we left Jerpoint Abbey, we started exploring the area.

Let’s go this way.

What’s that? Let’s go check it out!

And that’s how we stumbled upon Tullaherin Monastic Site.

It was founded in the 5th or 6th century. The round tower dates back to approximately the 9th century and the church remains are from the 10th century although it was rebuilt and added on to in the 15th century.

Round Tower.

Inside the old church

Jake wondering how you get to the door to the Round Tower.

How cool is it that you can simply stumble upon the ruins of a place with so much history?! It boggles my mind! Thinking of all the stuff we didn’t stumble upon makes me want to go back and continue exploring. In just this area, we didn’t see the Church of the Longman that has a very detailed effigy of a knight. Also, St. Nick is rumored to be buried nearby at the Church of St. Nicholas.  I should just start saving now.

After Tullaherin, we decided that it was time to quit messing around and get to Dublin and check into our last hotel.  Getting to Dublin was easy. Getting to our hotel was difficult. I think we got lost about 5 times, and once we had an idea of where the hotel was, we still had to circle back and around a few times because of the one-way streets and small street signs that you can’t see until too late. We eventually got checked in, parked our car in the private car park and immediately got connected to the hotel’s Wifi (priorities). The lesson here is that driving in Dublin is nuts and not advised.

We rested a bit, then started wandering around Dublin in search of food. We found dinner at a local pub, had a couple pints of Bulmers, caught a soccer (sorry…football) game and then headed back to our hotel for the night. The hotel was something else too. There were various doors that led to hallway, whole other wings and sometimes to guest rooms.  I would have gotten so lost if our room wasn’t right off a stairwell.

And now the artsy-fartsy photos! Some are Jake’s, some are mine.


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