Ireland 6 - Tralee to Graiguenamanagh

This day did not go at all how I had planned.

In discussions with Andrea the day before, the plan I had originally had for this day was thrown out. I had a grand sweep south, stopping by Blarney Castle (no stone kissing, though), spending lunchtime in Cobh, then coming up through Waterford to our next stay of Graiguenamanagh. This was deemed too ambitious, so instead we took a straighter route to our destination. This being Ireland, there wasn't a straight route, but this was as close as I could get.

After saying goodbye to Gortbrack, we headed east-ish. Google Maps had a tendency to guide us down narrow roads, but Andrea navigated us away from those whenever possible to our lunch stop at Cashel. We stopped at TJ Ryan's, a little Irish pub on Main Street, for pints and sandwiches. And it was here that we left our car instead of fighting with the lots closer to the Rock.

On the way to the Rock we passed the ruins of St. Dominick's Abbey, originally built in 1243 whose last friar lived there about 1850. It is now just a ruin, but still a very interesting building.

We trooped up the hill to the famous Rock of Cashel. Proudly displaying our Irish Heritage card, we entered and caught a tour in progress. The man giving the tour knew quite a lot about the Rock, and these types of guides really make the place come alive. I love tour books, but hearing a local talk about the history of a place is so much better than trying to piece it together yourself.

The Rock began its existence as a castle, the seat of the kings of Munster. In 1101, one such king, Muirchertach Ua Briain (try to say that one) donated it to the church. That's quite a thing to put on the offering plate.

A fifteen minute walk from the Rock is Hore Abbey, a Cistercian abbey. Well, it isn't anymore, as not having a roof makes it a bit more uncomfortable. Ip referred Hore Abbey (whose name is thought to derive from the "iubhair", the Irish word for the yew tree) because it's more isolated. There are no parking areas or neat paths, and we cut across a field and dodge cow pies to get to the abbey, as did a few others, but nowhere near the numbers of the Rock.

Returning to our car before we got a parking ticket, we continued on our eastward journey and made a last minute decision to go to the Famine Warhouse 1848. You have to want to get to this place, as it involves even more twisting roads with high grasses restricting visibility. When we arrived, there was one other car in the parking lot, and that was of the volunteer who worked there.

Because we were the only visitors, we got the full attention of the docent who explained the story of how 47 policeman were trapped in the house and a siege laid by rebels. The policeman actually took the family hostage to stop the rebels from overrunning them, an interesting turn of events. Don't worry, the kids were all saved.

The house now contains loads of information on the famine and the rebellion, and there is even a video in a building behind the main house. I enjoyed the visit, but this is only for people interested in Irish history - it's a rather dry exhibit.

Our touristy things done for the day, it was time to face the winding roads of County Tipperary on the way to our next stop, Graiguenamanagh. Our three-day home faced Duiske Abbey, another Cistercian monastery, whose name derives from "dubhuisce", "Black Water", referring to the nearby river. Our little home was comfortable and the location was fantastic, and everything we needed (i.e. food and Guinness) was easily within walking distance.

We explored town and decided we would just take some takeaway Indian food from Graig Garden, whose façade was covered with beautiful flowers. And the food was fantastic - we later returned to get another meal from the same place the following day. While killing time waiting for our food to be ready, we wandered through the Super Valu grocery store where I asked a clerk how to pronounce the name of town (graig-na-ma-nock is pretty close).

Our wanderings took us across the River Barrow. We also learned that Graiguenamanagh is where Mrs. O'Leary (of Chicago fire fame) is from. Former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan's relations came from Graiguenamanagh as well. So day 6 concluded with some American connections and Indian food 3,500 miles from home.

Latitude: 52.541274
Longitude: -6.955344

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