Kilkenny Castle and Smithwicks

November 30, 2014 – After multiple days of getting up early, could this finally be the day where we get to sleep in past 7:00? Nope. Instead, we had a 9:10 train to catch and had to walk 3 miles to the station because the buses weren’t running yet. 6:30 it is!  This time, we would be prepared by grabbing the full Irish breakfast buffet at the hotel before making the trek across town. And yes, we could have taken a taxi if we wanted to. We just prefer to walk when possible.

Look ma, no cars.
Look Ma, no cars.

The lack of car traffic made for a very easy walk, and before we knew it we were at Dublin Heuston station. After the bad experience on the Enterprise train yesterday, we welcomed the easy train ride to Kilkenny that we had this morning. One interesting aspect to the Kilkenny station is that the track is a  dead end. This means that if you are on a train traveling through the station, it will switch directions when leaving towards the next station.

We were surprised to see fall leaves around the River Nore.
We were surprised to see fall leaves around the River Nore.

After a quick walk through town, we made our way to Kilkenny Castle via the river walk. It was quite a bit colder here than it was in Dublin, so we didn’t waste too much time in booking a guided tour at the Castle. It’s a good thing too, because we a made a tour that had just started. The tour guide was very informative, and we learned much about the Butlers and the restoration of the castle that took place in the 20th century. One other tidbit of information that we picked up from the tour was that Kilkenny is also the home of Smithwicks. This would come into play later. We spent some time at the tea room at the end of the tour, enjoying some tea and splitting a raspberry Pavlova dessert.

Yes, it was really this foggy.
Yes, it was really this foggy.

For lunch, we made our way to Kyteler’s Inn for some traditional pub fare. I went for a traditional lamb stew and Louisa went for the bangers and mash. I didn’t meet a lamb stew that I didn’t like on the trip, and this was no exception. Louisa loved the sausages and onion gravy, but the mash wasn’t anything to write home about. We also enjoyed a Smithwicks Ale and Kilkenny Ale with the meal. When in Rome…

We may have taken a "shortcut" or two to get to the pub.
We may have taken a “shortcut” or two to get to the pub.

We had planned to walk up to the tower at St. Canice’s Cathedral, but discovered that the tower tour actually runs a bit later than we were expecting because of the off-season timing. Their web site actually indicates this, but I confused the hours of the cathedral with the tower climb. Luckily, the Smithwicks tour proved to be a worthy backup and took up the remainder of the afternoon. As someone that enjoys brewery tours, I was impressed by the information that they provided about their brewing process and brewery history. (I probably would have pursued a brewmaster career if I didn’t enjoy programming so much.) The multimedia elements of the tour were pretty well done, but I really liked that we had a guide to answer questions. One advantage of coming on a Sunday during the off-season is that we were the only ones on the tour. Also, like most brewery tours, a tasting was provided at the end of the tour.

Christmas decorations rule.
Christmas decorations rule.

Since the tour and tasting lasted a little longer than expected, we speed-walked back to the train station with about 5 minutes to spare to catch our train back to Dublin. The train was actually running a bit late, so we had more like 15-20 minutes to spare by the time the train left. No matter, as the ride itself was uneventful and provided great scenery, as always. Once back in Dublin, we took the Luas Red Line to have an encore meal at the Brew Dock. I know this will come as a surprise, but both of us had fish & chips and one of their darker ales. Once again, great food (especially the chips) and drink were enjoyed by all.

Christmas Market in Dublin
I almost forgot to put a caption here, but Louisa caught it.

We finished off the day by going to another Christmas Market, this time at St. Stephen’s Green. No sausages for us this time since we were full from dinner. However, we did enjoy some mulled wine and a hot whiskey drink with cloves and lemon. For our next post, we’ll be detailing our final morning in Ireland.

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