We bus to Kilkenny in the heart of Ireland, after a beer-drowned week around Dublin (posted last Monday). Or least that’s what we think.
Exhausted, I book our one-way ticket as round-trip. Idiot. I can’t change it. To top it off, our bus gets sideswiped by a red van. We spend nearly two hours sitting, still in Dublin. The Garda take statements and calm down a grandma before we can set off.
Now the Irish countryside looks lovely. But I need to pee. A kindly home goods store lets us get back on the road.
Once settled into our hostel, we immediately hike over to St Canice’s Cathedral. It looms over the town like an ash colored chef’s hat.
A leaning tower beside it beckons us to climb. It dates to the 800s. It is one of two Celtic Towers intact enough to climb. Sounds safe.
We squeeze through the narrow stairs and emerge 100 feet in the air.
We sight suburban ants prepping their homes for sport:
and find Smithwick’s Brewery with it’s own abbey (of course), which we will visit tomorrow (next Monday’s post):
By now, the tower must be swaying. Feeling like Jimmy Stewart (the one with vertigo, not an obsession with blonds) we descend.
Still shaking, we pop into the Cathedral. Hardly in its salad days either, St Canice dates to the 1300s. Gothic, gray limestone arches frame endless artifacts and tombs. We find the Chair of St Keiran, and enthrone ourselves like bishops have for over a millennium:
On our way out we spot the tomb of President Barack Obama’s great, great, great, great grand uncle:
Wait. Oh crap! I forgot this was a drinks blog.
Right. Well, today just happens to be Arthur Guinness’s 253rd birthday. So we drop into our local for a free couple of black dresses.
A celtic band starts up. Couples with babies, bros, and a few Dutch tourists fill every nook.
Soon the band devolves into a Karaoke fest with the locals. We leave to wander Kilkenny’s ancient cobbles.
Every pub riots with Arthur’s Day glee. We cross the river. The setting sun glimmers on the band of water, pointing an amber arrow to Kilkenny Castle.
We spot Matt the Millers. The pub glows. An inflated hurling mascot and pint watch over town.
At the door, with a classic car, swaggers the birthday boy himself: Arthur Guinness.
“Hay ladies! Who wants beer? It’s Arthur! It’s me birthday! Look at me ride, aint she a bute?” the teenager stammers with glee.
In case you missed him, here’s a close up. And yes, that’s a pint.
We keep walking.
This international day to Guinness starts to smell of corporate hegemony. We are celebrating the drink that will destroy this town.
Diageo (the conglomerate founded by Guinness) now owns the local Smithwick’s brewery: Ireland’s oldest, dating back to 1710. Soon they will close production here completely. Demolitions start late in 2013.
But in next week’s post, we visit Smithwick’s Brewery and will flesh this all out.