July 1, 2011

0 Ireland! Charleville Castle, Kinnitty Castle, and Countryside

We had the Rough Guide to Ireland already, but before we left home I stopped at the library and picked up 4 different Ireland tour guides.  I then post-it marked anything that seemed interesting in the areas we were headed.  One site that seemed really cool but was only mentioned in one of the books (first clue) was Charleville Castle.  It seemed a good stop on our route, so I marked it.  Our Garmin couldn't find it (second clue), but the book mentioned the town it was in so I plugged that in to the SatNav.  When we got to the town, there weren't any brown heritage signs to the castle (third clue) but, doggedly, we pursued it.  Finally, after stopping at the rail station and asking a random lady there (who just directed us to Charleville Rd), we found a sign that vaguely mentioned Charleville.  We proceeded up the drive to a nice woodland area where many people were walking, most with dogs.  We headed up one of the car routes and dead-ended (fourth clue) before going back and following the other route, where- behold! a castle.  Once there we found construction signs, but no barriers, and a very friendly dog, but no humans.  One drove up after a while and told us that the castle is under renovation- you can get a tour of the ground floor, but it's €20 and only five rooms.  We opted to just walk around the outside, which is striking enough. 

Kinnitty Castle is now an operational hotel.  We drove by it, so decided to stop for a look-around.

The front entry.  I didn't know if taking pictures would be frowned upon since we weren't guests, so I ducked in, took a few, then darted out!

County Offaly Countryside.

We drove over a quaint little stone bridge and saw this.

Peat cutting!  It took us a minute to figure it out, but peat cutting is EVERYWHERE.  Apparently it's the main source of fuel for most of the islands off of Ireland, and I'd assume many houses on the mainland use it as well.  They are stacked in the back for drying. 

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