We awoke to a blue sky morning in Kilkenny and headed out west taking smaller roads and lanes but with high hedgerows lining the roads it was hard to see much. The narrow roads are very narrow indeed, many barely one car wide with virtually nowhere to pull off if traffic arrives from the opposite direction. Tractors and farm trucks travelled at high speeds on the lanes - they gave no quarter...it's you that has to get out of the way, even if there is nowhere to get of the way to. Scary stuff.
Naturally the blue skies didn't last and the rain again set in. Our first stop was the Rock of Cashel, a mediaeval castle and cathedral perched high over the surrounding plains on a limestone outcrop. We joined a tour around the site with a local guide, who, I have to say, was one of the best guides we have ever had. She was knowledgeable, interesting, lucid and with a lovely dry sense of humour.
And so on to Limerick and a campground just out of the village of Adare south of Limerick city.
We had come to Limerick County across the country earlier in the trip than we would have otherwise in order to pay for and pick up a camping card. We had discovered a system called 'Safe Nights Ireland' where, for a minimal nightly cost, you can park overnight in a safe area instead of forking out every night for a campsite which are all rather expensive here - these areas include the carparks of pubs, the grounds of farms and B and Bs, sports grounds and the like. Without a local address to have the card sent to, we had contacted the organiser, Frank Ryan, who had suggested we could come to Limerick where he lived to collect it. In the end he called us to say that he had left the card at a gift shop in Adare near to where we were camped and we could collect it from there. When I asked about paying for it, Frank just said that it was a gift to us as first-time visitors to Ireland. Most unexpected! We duly drove into Adare town and found the right gift shop. We asked for the small parcel that was left for us by Frank Ryan. They were delighted to hand over the parcel, but were surprised themselves about the whole thing. The parcel was pushed through their letterbox and was there when they opened up. However they had absolutely no idea who Frank Ryan was or why he would have chosen them to pass on a package! How odd.
Adare is a very pretty town and renowned for it. The Heritage Information Centre was the place to go to join a tour of the local Desmond Castle (free entry with our newly acquired cards!) - you can only visit it accompanied, no wandering around on your own. Coaches and buses filled the car-park to capacity and people wandered everywhere, but to our surprise all had disappeared by the time the tour was to leave. It seemed they all only came to see the souvenir shops. We joined our guide and were the only two people. So a private tour it was - how good is that! The castle this time was completely unrestored, and it has also never been 'modernised' over the centuries and it was interesting to see it as it would have been originally. Of course it was a ruin but there was much to see and the location on the banks of the River Maigue was superb.