We travelled on the 10.35 from Belfast Enterprise to Dublin Connolly and then the Luas to Hueston Station for the 15.15 train to Kilkenny. This gave us plenty of time for lunch. On arrival in Kilkenny a coach took us to the Ormonde Hotel which was our base for the trip. After dinner the evening was free to allow exploration of our area of the town.
Day two started with a drive down to County Waterford to visit CURRAGHMORE HOUSE, the magnificent home of the Marquis of Waterford. (his son and heir is the Earl of Tyrone) On arrival we had coffee, and then the butler gave us a guided tour of the house.
We explored the gardens and the unique shell house before driving north to INISTIOGE for lunch and a return visit to WOODSTOCK for a guided tour of the gardens.
Following the obligatory tea and scones we visited the well-known Nicholas Mosse Pottery where most of the party indulged in a spot of ‘retail therapy’.
First stop of the day was at SHANKILL CASTLE. The original castle was built about 1700 but little of that remains. Although one of the smaller ‘Big Houses’ it is an interesting house and well worth a visit.
A short trip brought us then to OLD LEIGHLIN CATHEDRAL. This 13th century gem is on the site of a 7th century monastic settlement. Dean Tom Gordon, formerly of St Mark’s Lisburn, entertained us with tea and scones and gave us a fascinating account of the colourful history of the cathedral.
We then moved on to CARLOW where we had lunch before meeting in the County Museum for a guided tour of some of the interesting places in the town.
Another short drive brought us to DUCKETTS GROVE. This is the spectacular ruins of a once great house, much aggrandized in 1830 with turrets and battlements, but burnt in 1933. We had a tour of the interior of the house and a stroll in the spacious gardens.
After tea and scones we headed for KilKenny for a short stop in CASTLECOMER. This once-prosperous, coal mining village is now best known for its auction rooms.
The final visit of the trip was a tour of Rothe House, conveniently within walking distance of our hotel. Built by wealthy merchant John Rothe Fitz-Piers in the late 16th century, it comprises three houses with courtyards and a large garden behind. It has been faithfully restored and retains the stocks installed for troublesome visitors.
The walled garden at the back of the house had been neglected and eventually became a car park. Thankfully, it has recently been restored to its former purpose as a beautiful and productive garden.
This picture shows how the garden may have looked originally and how it looked as a car park.
We then had free time to explore Kilkenny until meeting at the hotel to board the coach for the 15.10 train to Dublin. Returning home on the 18.50 Enterprise, there was plenty of chat and reminiscing about the excellent trip Finny O’Sullivan had arranged for us all to enjoy so much.
Curraghmore House. Religious devotion is symbolised above the coat of arms
All smiles with our hosts at Shankill Castle
At Leighlin Cathedral with our host Dean Tom Gordon
The stocks installed for
'troublesome visitors' at Rothe House
Tea-room, a good idea!
Old Leighlin Cathedral
How the garden may have looked originally and how it looked as a