It was our final day on the road trip of Ireland. The next day, we would return the car to Dublin, enjoy the capital for the rest of the day, and then fly out the following morning. So we were going to make the best of it (as always)!
We had been strongly advised that we needed to go to Wicklow for the hiking. People told me that it was their favorite place in the entire world. The guidebook said that Wicklow was the quintessential area for hiking in Ireland. Wicklow is about an hour south of Dublin. We would spend the night in the town of Wicklow and enjoy hiking in the area.
But first, we were going to take a little detour to Kilkenny, a little city with castle. On the way, however, my husband saw a sign for Obama’s village, so we took a brief side trip. We found ourselves in a tiny town that had a plaque telling us that this is where Obama’s grandfather was from. There were two shops dedicated to Obama, though sadly one was permanently closed. There was a pub with a sign showing Obama drinking a Guinness, but it too was closed. Nearby, there was a garage door painted with the Irish and US flags!
Kilkenny was well worth the trip. We wished we had spent the night there since it seemed to offer a lot more to tourists. Cobblestone streets, cute little shops, and tasty places to eat. We first visited Kilkenny Castle, which was a bit more on the palace side of castles than fortified castles. But it was neat just the same. There was a magnificent Great Hall, a perennial favorite, and even a tapestry room. Sigh. I love tapestries.
Afterwards, we wandered briefly, enjoyed the little antique and curio shops. I picked up a wooden cane with a carved rabbit head on top. This would be my walking stick. I finally picked up some tasty Irish hard white cheese at a little shop, which was delicious. I have a bad habit of not writing down the names of delicious cheeses so that will be forever remembered as the Kilkenny cheese. Next time, we’ll spend the night in Kilkenny.
We drove on to the forest covered hills of Wicklow. We parked near the Wicklow Visitor’s Center. We planned on going to the ancient city of St. Kevin’s and then a slightly more vigorous hike. There were a dozen hikes with different colors differentiating the paths. We first came upon the ancient village with ruined stone buildings. And then the rains came. It was fascinating watching the waves of rain come from various directions. It would start and stop during the entire time in the medieval village. However, by the time, we started the hike in earnest, the rains held off.
The first part of the hike was rather steep since we were going up the hill. Thankfully, i had my trusty walking stick. Our path was halfway up the mountain; there was an even more advanced hike that went up further but for our purposes, we just needed a more intermediate hike. We got great views from our path, which was mostly level. There were even moments of blue sky. It was about 8 km but it took about the same time as our much shorter hike in the Connemara. Wicklow is pretty but the wind swept fields and hills of Connemara are my favorite.
After our hike, we checked into our B&B and headed out for some food. At the restaurant, my husband ordered a Black Velvet, which is not common over in Ireland. The waitress had never heard of it; the bartender actually came over to talk to Scott about it. Must be an American thing!
Before turning in, we decided to check out the Black Castle in Wicklow. It sounded delightfully foreboding! We got a bit turned around but eventually made our way to the castle, overlooking the bay. There wasn’t much public lighting so we used our camera flashlights to lead the way. The castle was in ruins, lit only by the meager light of the city and the stars above. Below, we would hear the waves crashing on the shore below. The Romantics would have appreciated it. Likely poetry had been written about this very castle.
We headed home, hoping to see if we could hear some Irish music on the way. We did hear someone practicing their violin nearby, but alas, that was all we could find.
Our final day would be spent driving back to Dublin and having another night on the town!