Ireland Day 7: Cahir Castle & Rock of Cashel

One more day to go before this adventure ends...we are terribly saddened by this.
The day started with breakfast at the Belvedere Lodge, which I believe was prepared by Vince.  On the road we went after that, headed for Cahir Castle, built in 1142 (pronounced Care Castle).  I'd seen many pictures of it already and read several blog posts from other visitors.  We pulled into Cahir and there it was, downtown on the main road.  The town was built around it.
I paid the 2 hour pre-paid parking fee and we strolled across the street to get some shots of the town and the hatchery...We had arrived a few minutes before it opened so had some time to waste.  An amazing blue heron was waiting for his picture to be taken.  I don't think I've ever seen one before (or noticed anyway). 

After we paid the €6 entry fee for the both of us and "listened" to the cashier excitedly tell us about the Early Ireland Women's exhibit inside the hall, we went in to the grounds. Don't get me wrong, I'm a lover of history, I love people who have the same enthusiasm for history, I love being in historical places and thinking about all of the people who have been there before me, whether visitors or the original inhabitants.  I think about what their lives were like or might have been like.  But after the minutes long introduction, we were ready to get inside and explore on our own.
The view of the town from the top of the castle was so vibrant!  The shops and pubs each stick out because of their colors.  (American friends, notice the direction of the cars on the street)
I was most excited about Rock of Cashel today.   I considered this to be the cherry on the castle cake for the week. This fortress began it's life as a castle and in 1101 was donated to the church.  That's 900 years ago!!!!  900 years of people coming and going from this earth and it still stands. Such a remarkable structure.  It is currently having some renovations done on one side of it, but even still it is breathtaking.

The entry fee here was a little bit more at €12 for the both of us, but it was well worth it.  There were several large tour groups at the Rock at the same time...all of them being led around by guides who spoke their respective languages.  It was interesting to hear all the different versions and reactions.  I'm such a people watcher.  It did make it a little hard to soak it all in because at times it could be quite loud, especially inside the structure, but that's what you get on a Friday at a major tourist attraction.  
For our lunch I had planned via Trip Advisor that we eat at O'Neill's Restaurant located just up the street.  We were able to walk there from the  Rock and discovered that lunch wasn't being served yet.  It was 11:45 and lunch begins at 12:30. in my head: "NOOOO this is where I'm supposed to eat! TA says so!"  We asked if we could drink tea (of course) until lunch time and the ladies were more than welcoming.  We chatted with the proprietor and her waitress for several minutes while we enjoyed our tea.
 As we were sipping away, Helen O'Neill, the proprietor, was writing the specials on the board.  One of which being ling in a chive cream sauce.  We had a few good laughs as mom and I asked her what "ding" was...we had misread the sign.  
The food was excellent and prepared by Helen herself I believe.  We both ordered the roast chicken which was served with carrots, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cabbage.  I was a good girl and only ate the chicken, carrots, and cabbage....oh wait, did I mention the 3 slices of brown bread that I had?  I can say that of all the brown breads I have eaten while in Ireland, O'Neill's is the best, hands down.
It was then time to make the trip to Dublin.  It started pouring rain.  Buckets. The motorway was layered in water in some areas.  I sat up nice and straight with my hands gripping 10 and 2 and my eyes fixed on what I could see of the road.  Turns out the rainy motorway was the least of my worries. Getting to the gas station by the return terminal for the rental car was a night mare...the trusty GPS had been so on point all week and then today it decides it wants to take me the wrong way 3 different times.  I was getting pretty stressed to the point my eye was twitching from the strain.  Eventually we made our way to the gas station and got the car returned.  I should mention the AMAZING rep from Avis that gave us the rental car on Sunday, I don't know her name but I'm going to find out.  When we dropped the keys off today for the rental car, here she came popping around the corner and remembered us.  We had a good chat about the week and she gave us a map of Dublin we hadn't seen yet.  Great great great gal (with amazing eyelashes!)
Next up: Our last day in Ireland: Dublin


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