Friday, June 12, 2015

Ireland Day 7 - Cloyne

So, I didn't start writing until Day 7, so will need to do a little backtracking as I go.  Will try to stay up to date over the next few days, then add in the previous days before I forget what we did!

We awoke to a beautiful crisp morning in Cloyne, at Wisteria House.  Temps probably in the low 50’s, but completely clear and beautiful.  Jo and I shared the Almond room, which had a completely fabulous rainwater shower and heated towel rods.  Kaja came in and opened up the window for some fresh air (and I picked on her – bad sister!). the view was spectacular - the old church and a round tower.  One of the homes in the distance had a puff of smoke from the fireplace. 

We all hung out in Randy, Shell & Ka’s gigantic room, and stretched a bit and then discussed the plan for the day.  The gang wanted to go to Ardmore to view the site of a favorite Norah Roberts series and wanted to have lunch in Gallagher’s pub (now Murphy’s), but Ardmore was only about 40 minutes away and we would arrive way too early for lunch, so we checked out our guidebooks and Trip Advisor and found the town of Youghal (prounounced y’all) on the way.   Youghal has a neat heritage trail with well marked and documented old buildings.   Next stop would be Ardmore, then we were thinking we would go to Waterford so that Jo could pick up some Waterford salt shakers for Mark, then we were thinking that we would got to Cashel and Cahir if we had time before going on to our resting place near Kilkenny.  After finalizing our plans, we went down for breakfast.

The breakfast room at the Wisteria House in Cloyne is a beautiful spacious room with a lovely view of the Round Tower.   The table was set up for our arrival with beautiful flower placemats and a centerpiece with fresh mint, purple chive blossoms and an orange flower that we couldn’t identify.  On one sideboard, a small simple piece, topped with marble, was fresh squeezed orange juice.  On the other – a taller more substantial piece, had fresh baked scones, cereal, milk, yogurt, and a delicious fruit bowl with kiwi, apples and pears, tossed with mint and basil. 

We all dug into that quickly and then our host Albert came up with coffee and toast and took our breakfast orders.  Jo and I asked for scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, and the rest of the gang had the spinach and feta omelet.  The coffee was French press and was delicious, as was the food.  The highlight for me was the scones- they were amazing.  Crisp outside, tender inside with a delicious flavor.

After breakfast, we chatted for a while with Alta and Albert.  They are Albanians, who emigrated to Ireland during the troubles in Albania.  After looking around for a bit, they decided to make Cloyne their home and started the B&B.  Alta also teaches.   They have made Wisteria House a beautiful and inviting haven and we were sorry to leave.  Albert helped us schlep our bags down the narrow stairs and we loaded up the Citroen Picasso. 

On the way out, we stopped to investigate the corner store – Motherway on the corner of 631 and 629, run by Mrs Mack, who is 90-some years old.  It was sort of a typical small town country store with a little bit of everything in it. It was teeny and the five of us filled it up.   While we were leaving, there was a village traffic jam with a provision truck on one street and one of the gigantic Irish tractors trying to make a turn into the narrow street.  We watched the tractor driver cleverly navigate his way through the EXTREMELY tight turn.  After that excitement, we piled into the car – Randy driving, me navigating and headed out towards Yougal. 

The drive to Yougal  Although historic buildings lined the street, this was a “real” town, vs a tourist town, so the shops were all normal – grocery shops, pubs, houses, solicitors, estate agents, etc. all jumbled together.   The main street parallels the harbor, which we did not have time to visit.   

We found the beautiful clock tower and then a little further, turned up a teeny little street that climbed up to the beautiful Youghal Cathedral (get name).  The church has a lovely stained glass façade, and the grounds were amazing – flowers every where and mixed in with them, grave markers going back hundreds and hundreds of years.  

was lovely and scenic and we came into the town down an extremely narrow and steep road leading down to the harbor.

We met a sweet local lady in the church with her baby grand-daughter, Misha, and she told us a little about the town and the church.  She also tipped us off on where to go pee, because the church toilet was out of order.  We spent some time examining the church, which had an amazing interior, including roof beams hand hewn out of individual trees, then we went out and climbed a path which led up to town battlements and a sally port, and then back down on the other side of the church.  Joe took a picture there of a freshly dug grave – it’s amazing to think that such an old graveyard is still in use!  I think we would have spent more time there, but we all had to pee like crazy!  So we made our way back down the teeny little street to an adorable bar called the Nook, where they kindly let us use the facilities. 

We realized that we were going to run ourselves out of time, so we hustled back to the car and hopped in.  Randy navigated us through very busy, and fortunately, one way traffic through the town, and off we went to Ardmore.  For navigating, I have been using both the GPS that we rented with the car and the Waze app on my phone, along with Google maps from time to time.   All of the nav tools let us down in Ardmore – as we looked for the round tower, we wound up in a neighborhood with no tower in sight.  We reconnoitered a little and then figured out where it was and made our way over there.

The site of the round tower at Saint Declans was absolutely stunning.  It is situated in a peaceful graveyard with grassy fields sloping away up hill to the top of the Ardmore cliffs, and beautiful sea views to the East, and the town falling away to the beach on the north.  There is also an oratory there that just has the most special peaceful feeling.  The carvings here on the oratory walls are amazing.  The cemetery was quite special as well – there were tombs and graves so old that almost nothing remained even of the gravestone, as well as graves that are only a few years old.

After spending some peaceful moments exploring the ruin, we went down into the town (found the public toilets), and wandered the streets for a bit, checking out galleries.  There was a man rethatching a roof and it was pretty fascinating to watch him tie and then comb the thatch.  We wanted to have lunch at the pub from the Norah Roberts books (An Tobar), but it was closed until three, so we had to give it a pass (plus we were still stuffed from breakfast).  We did see a kayaking class in action on the beach!

We took the Ardmore round about, heading back up the hill out of town and picked up the N25 (?) towards Waterford.  Waterford is a busy, somewhat industrial city, and we made our way through, finding a great parking lot behind the Waterford store.  Although cut glass is not to my taste, the store was lovely with sparkling glass and beautiful displays.    Jo got her purchases made and arranged to have them shipped home and then we all piled in the car again and headed up the N10 towards Kilkenny.  We got turned around a little on the N10, R713 exchange, but got it sorted out and headed into Stoneyford, home of the Lawcus Farm B&B. 

Wow!  What a beautiful place.  Everywhere you turn on the farm is another little magical nook or cranny with a treat for the eyes.  The rooms are small, but fitted up perfectly – it feels like living on a ship.  I have noticed that Irish bathrooms are really lovely and Lawcus is no exception!   

After a cup of coffee with our hostess Anne Marie, we headed off to a nearby town to the Sol bistro for an excellent dinner – appetizers included an amazing country pate, which I think was a favorite, luscious trout rillet and some very yummy honey goat cheese with roasted beets and olives.  Dinner included chicken, salmon and risotto – all wonderful.  We were too stuffed for dessert, so made our way across a bridge over the River Nore to the Red Door off license shop to pick up a bottle of wine. 

Kaja found a nice malbec and Jo explored the whiskey/liquor options, hoping to finding something like Rum Chata for breakfast.  Nothing floated her boat, so we headed back across the bridge, intercepting Randy and Shelley, who had been walking more leisurely and who were – err – appreciating the Irish scenery in the form of a handsome young man.  We headed back to the farm where Mark showed us his tree house – literally a little cottage in the trees, which will soon be another guest house.  It was so private, cozy and lovely, even though not quite finished.  
Pouring ourselves some wine, we explored the grounds of the guest house, enjoying goats, pigs, chickens and dogs as well as beautiful scenery.  We wandered down to the King River and watched the brown trout rising as the evening fell.  Tomorrow we will go spend some time at the Kells priory before heading down the road to Dublin.  The weather has been spectacular so far, and tomorrow looks good as well.


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