Today is the Rock of Cashel, the Swiss Cottage, and Waterford Crystal, where there is also a Harley Dealership, so of course that will include a stop there, as well.
The Rock of Cashel is different than I expected. It was used as an assembly place for the High Kings of Ireland, and later, as a religious site, where a cathedral and chapel were built. There are some really interesting frescoes on the ceiling in one of the rooms, and the tour is very interesting, but the structure itself is whats impressive, rising high over the city, the only elevated place for miles around.. D said there is an interesting St. Patrick story, as there is almost everywhere in Ireland, but if it takes place in Cashel, we didnt hear about it on our tour. Apparently it goes like this: St Patrick converts the King of the region. As usually follows a conversion, the King is baptized. During the ceremony, St Patrick leans upon his staff, rather forcefully, and mistakenly spears the poor kings foot with it. The king says nothing, though, and afterwards, when Patrick finally realizes the mistake, and asks the king why he said nothing, the king replies, I thought it was part of the ritual! Anyway, like I said, if that happened at Cashel, no one told us about it. There was a rather large piece of stone that was sunk into the ground, and the tour guide explained that it was part of the building that had fallen during a storm and they are going to leave it there. You can also see “Hore Abbey” from Cashel, which they went to great pains to explain was not “W-h-o-r-e” or meant anything of the sort. My brain really didn’t go there until they said it…
Now we head to Cahir and the Swiss Cottage, which is probably the cutest place I have ever seen. It is so whimsical and lovely, and I want to live in it forever. Apparently, back when aristocrats ruled the land, in the 19th century or so, they needed a rustic place to hunt and unwind, and to entertain guests, by playing peasants. So the Cottage Orne, or Fantasy Cottage, was built. The Swiss Cottage was built, in as mis-matched, slap-dash quality as possible, to make it look more rustic. There is a neat Blue and white Irish toile room which is striking and lovely. They have taken great pains to recreate the look, feel, and life of the day, and some of the ceilings, therefore are pretty low. I have to reminded continually to mind my head.
We head to Waterford, in search of the Crystal and the Harley store. I think D and V are more excited about the Harley store than the world-famous crystal, and we get to the dealer first, at any rate, so thats where we head in. The store is relatively tiny, especially compared to the stores we are used to here in the states, and they only have 3 types of ladies ts, one of which V already has. I have to roll my eyes when we are told that they have already shipped most of the store over to Killarney for the rally there in a few days. We will hit the town at the start of the rally, which D swears he didnt plan. I dont know if I believe that.
Waterford Crystals tour begins with an audio visual presentation, which seems a little full of itself, with remarks like, the highlight of your trip to Ireland and the reason many people come to this fine country, etc. The tour takes us past all the stages of the Crystal, from the glass to the final piece of art. We see glass blowing, drawing, cutting, and engraving. It is all really interesting, and incredibly detailed. We are surprised to find out that the blower, the cutter, and the engraver are paid by the piece. If its not perfect, it gets shattered, and they are not paid for that piece. Talk about some pressure! Afterwards, we are shown into the gallery, where you , too, can purchase your very own piece of Waterford Crystal. I wonder how people can afford to eat in this country and still afford to buy Waterford to take home.
We take another road back, by the small town of Ballyporeen, which I had read on the internet had a pub called Ronald Reagans Pub. Being die-hard Republicans, I figure this is a great photo-op. But we drive through the whole town (all 3 streets) and there is no sign of it. Oh well. Thats the last time I trust something Al Gore invented.
Posted from USA:
posted Sunday July 2006