Sunday’s plan is Wexford and the big emigration museum there. We’ve had a certain amount of Emigration already, and the thought that the possibility of Shopping might be off today in a catholic country leads us to switch Sunday with Monday - a free day.
Even so, almost nobody wants to stick around the cottages for long (cute as they are). We hear tell of Cashel, adored by some who have been there before. Others who have been there found it interesting but over-rated, and the rest of us now want to find out. In the end, two vans decide to go there.
I’m in the lead van with Darrell, Johnandrew driving. The jumpseats in the back have become our regular place, and we wedge Maurice between the seats so that the second van can see him and know they’re following the right van.
We’re laughing and having and having a great time, and after an hour or two (stopping for a stroll around historic but boring Fethard) we come to yet another roundabout. Great things, roundabouts. An oddity to many an American, too, and some in the group are amused every single time. Our exit from this one is the first left, barely a quarter turn around, so we decide to go wild and go a turn and a quarter. The van behind us must think - what the heck ?? One full turn was so fun, we decide to go around a second time. Wheeeeee !!!!!
I guess you gotta be there for some things.
The following van calls us up on the walkie-talkie to order us to Cut it the Hell Out. Sandy is about to be sick back there. Not Funny.
Duly chastized we drive gently to the next exit, a large gas-station-fast-food thing, where we proceed to have a snack lunch. A shame, really, to have fast food crap for lunch when we’re 1 km outside the town of Cashel, which is having a sort of festival today and everything is open. But we don’t realize we’re so close until we get on the road again. At any rate, D and I stick to splitting an order of chips, hoping for better later. When we’re hungry.
The ruin of the Rock of Cashel is truly impressive. It’s a big church/abbey/priory thing built on top of a huge rock, with a commanding view all around. Patrick was here, and other prominent figures of Ireland’s religious and political past, and now it’s one of the most-visited sites in the country.
On the downside, being one of the most-visited sites means it’s crawling with tourists like us, but you can learn some interesting bits by hanging around the guided groups.
Down on the plain is another of those Cistercian abbeys, much more ruined than the one we toured at Jerpoint. Indeed, they do all have exactly the same layout. In the same orientation. There’s a bit of topless sunbathing going on this afternoon, but that wraps up just as Darrell approaches (we’re not in Italy, after all).
This same kind of ruin from the same period makes me appreciate just how extremely well preserved the Jerpoint Abbey is. Everything is erased here. No carving remains. No details. The stone arcade of the cloister is just a row of blocks ankle-high. It’s all been carted off as ready-cut building stone or as decoration or to museums, and the rest has just eroded away.
It’s a beautiful day for a walk around, and we walk back toward the town, thinking to score a snack at the festival, and hopefully some interesting bread for our breakfast toast. When we get there, we think - surely the main festival must be somewhere near, but where ? In a wide spot in the main road, where it splits to go around a monument, is a cluster of booths selling international wares. The French bread guy gets my business right away, and the kebabs have been recommended to us, but there’s nothing else selling real food.
D isn’t in a kebab-on-the-hoof mood, and happily we spy an eat-in deli open just up the street.
Sandwiches ! Our first sandwiches in Ireland. Thick cut ham & cheese. Baked brie and bacon ciabatta. It’s okay stuff. By the register there’s lime curd and tangerine marmalade. I do love unusual jams, so I get those for souvenirs.
By now it’s high time we got back to the vans. I hate being last to the vans. I don’t much like being first, either, because you waste more time waiting. The ideal is for everyone to be exactly on time.
In wandering around different towns I’ve been keeping an eye out for yarn, and am pleased with the good deal scored on that deep red merino wool found in Waterford. All these sheep in the fields, all these wonderful knitted goods in the shops : somebody must be making yarn. At the foot of the Rock of Cashel there’s a local-products souvenir shop. I’ll just duck in and see what’s on offer. Do I have time ?
Two minutes, D says.
Oh. I can do a 2-minute peek. I don’t have much hope of finding yarn not already knit up anyway.
But they have a whole section !
And it’s classed by county !
What feels best to my fingers is the mohair bouclé from right around here. Good to touch, but the colors are very strange. Bizzarre shades of pink, blus, pruple, lime green... I hear the cashier ask an incoming customer if she can help, and hear D say No, just waiting.
Are my two minutes up ? Already ?
She can barely keep from laughing out loud (not that we would have minded). So I pick two balls of medium silver-grey, and two of grey-green, and that’s it for yarn. And I am the last one back to the vans.