Ireland Memories

Thursday, June 12, 2008 - written by Jerry Frye and Priscilla Kron

Well, we woke up to another beautiful warm, sunny day in Cork and were treated to the best breakfast yet - yogurt in glass bottles, American-style bacon, great scones. On the road again at 8:30 for Kilkenny via Waterford.

There were two votes today - the general Irish population voting on the Lisbon treaty, which most of us knew nothing about and barely learned much more despite picking up pamphlets and asking the locals, and our general tour population voting on lamb for dinner. The “yeas” had it for lamb, but much to our disappointment, Chris was not able to deliver it for the rest of the trip.

Along the way of winding, up and down country roads, we passed a popular pilgrimage site - Middleton, home of Jameson Whiskey! Chris also had us on the lookout for a wonderful thatched pub and “a-cute” bend in the road - he’s such a witty character.

Ireland pic 15

At the Waterford crystal factory, we were “blown” away by the work these masters have done since 1783, when the company was founded by the Penrose Bros. Our very Irish guides, Lindsay and Stephanie, showered us with information about the molds, the logo, (a shamrock in the tail), the furnaces of 1300 C , the 6-step inspection process, the New Year’s crystal ball, and the various tournament trophies produced there. In response to “How much would those trophies be worth?” Stephanie wryly responded “Oh, a lot! An arm and a leg!” Shauna couldn’t get the grin off her face after being allowed to “hold” a Super Bowl trophy model and “cut” a piece of crystal. Her supervisor told her “You won’t make very much money if you just stand there!” These folks are paid by the piece, of all things. The photos are worth everything! To top off our tour, some of us were able to have Nicky, a 40-year master engraver, do some personal engravings for our gifts. It was certainly a tour to remember.

Ireland pic 16

Two more tours awaited us in Kilkenny - a walking tour of the historic city and a tour of the lovely (and large) Kilkenny Castle. As we strolled the streets of Kilkenny we were treated to stories behind such phrases as “whirligig” and “daylight robbery”. We loved getting little tidbits such as these along with the facts about Rothe House with its 1600s garden and the Black Abbey. And who could ignore that fantastic stained glass window? I can’t imagine taking it apart piece by piece, releading it, and reassembling it. That takes persistence, patience, and dedication for sure. At the castle we shared Ashley’s 21st birthday with her. I’m sure she’ll long remember having Happy Birthday sung to her in 4+ part harmony! She took it all in stride though. We especially enjoyed the “conversation seats” for those young people who couldn’t be trusted alone, for goodness sakes! And little did we know that the direct translation of “May the road rise to meet you” (which Ashley said to us in parting) is “May the road rise to hit you”! That gives it quite a different slant, but it’s charming all the same.

Late in the afternoon (later than expected actually) our weary group arrived with little time to spare, and to change, at our hotel, the Kilford Arms. Talk about convoluted! Back door entry through the requisite attached pub, stairs going all directions, and more twists and turns than a bobsled run! It was very “old school”. After the evening performance at St. Canice’s Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in Ireland, for a sadly small audience, we were looking forward to a nice late meal back at the hotel. Well, a couple slices of cold ham and cheese along with some salad with mayonnaise in a cavernous dining room on hard, straight-back seats was not what we were hoping for, to say the least. And the service wasn’t too great either! Fortunately, the beds had sheets and pillows so we slept OK. We’ll leave the breakfast for the next journalers to describe!