Sketching Ireland #8

Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile

Again, it is said that, Kilkenny is a popular tourist destination in Ireland. Well regarded for its cultural life, it has always tended to attract culturally aware visitos. Art galleries, historic buildings, craft and design workshops, theatre, comedy, public gardens and museums are some of main reasons Kilkenny has become one of Ireland’s most visited towns and a popular base to explore the surrounding countryside. Points of interest within the city and its environs include Kilkenny Castle, St. Canice’s Cathedral and round tower, Rothe House, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Kells Priory, Kilkenny Town Hall, Black Abbey and Jerpoint Abbey. [content from unknown resource]

We focused on Kilkenny Castle in our last post. From the castle, you can’t leave this city without walking through Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile.

Ireland s Medieval Mile in Kilkenny Medieval Kilkenny

The Medieval Mile is a discovery trail running through the centre of Kilkenny City linking the Anglo-Norman castle and the 13th-century St Canice’s Cathedral with much more in between. Of course, it does not really look that medieval with unpaved muddy streets. The Medieval Mile is set up for tourists and is not just focused on ancient history. There is a lot to see and I wish I could show you more but I can only sketch so much.

St. Kieran’s Street

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I wanted to sketch a fun place where you can shop, mingle and eat. That place, in my opinion, would have to be St. Kieran’s Street. It is a long and narrow back ally street nicely paved with dark bricks, lined with cafes and a variety of retail shops. It is also a place that in occasion is cordoned off to allow street vendors and performers. By the way, the Roots & Fruits may have closed.

St. Canice’s Cathedral

A tour of the city usually would include seeing nine churches and two cathedrals. The largest of which is the St. Canice’s Cathedral.

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St Canice’s Cathedral is a cathedral of the Church of Ireland. It was built in the Early English, or English Gothic, style of architecture, of limestone, with a low central tower supported on black marble columns. The internet had provided hundreds of photos of both outside and in. For my sketch subject, I chose an inside perspective from the vantage point of the podium of where the Scripture is read. From the drawing, you can see the high pointed arches form entrances from the nave into the choir and the two transepts. Between the nave and each aisle is a row of five black marble clustered columns, with high moulded arches. The nave is lighted by a large west window and five clerestory windows, while the aisles each have four windows.

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In one of those naves, I found the stone tomb of John Grace. I have no other information on who John Grace is, but with its intricate carvings, I had to draw it.

Biddy Early’s Pub & Kilkenny Beer

Kilkenny offers all sorts of tours and I also read that there is even a guided merriment tour to the 70 pubs in the city. Biddy Early’s Pub happens to be one of the best. By the way, the pub is right next to… get this… Sweeny Todd Barbershop and the letter T of Todd is shaped like an old styled swith razor. Who said that the Irish had no humor?

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I also found out that Kilkenny has their own beer.

Well, we’re finally leaving Kilkenny. We’re heading south to the coast. See you at my next posting.

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Sketching Ireland #7

Said to be Most Beautiful Castle in Ireland

When in Kilkenny, the must see attraction is the Kilkenny Castle.

kilkenny-castle-1-w.jpgThe castle was built in 1195 to control a fording-point of the River Nore and the junction of several route-ways. It was a symbol of Norman occupation and in its original thirteenth-century condition it would have formed an important element of the defenses of the town with four large circular corner towers and a massive ditch, part of which can still be seen today. Few buildings in Ireland can boast a longer history of continuous occupation than Kilkenny Castle.

Explore the Castle   Kilkenny Castle.jpgFounded soon after the Norman conquest of Ireland, the Castle had been rebuilt, extended and adapted to suit changing circumstances and uses over a period of 800 years. The castle’s website (kilkennycastle.ie) provided an artist’s impression of what the medieval castle would look like. As time went by, the castle eventually deteriorated to ruin and abandoned. The property with its ruins was transferred to the people of Kilkenny in 1967 for only about £50.

The Lord Ormonde sold the abandoned castle to the Castle Restoration Committee for a ceremonial £50, with the statement: “The people of Kilkenny, as well as myself and my family, feel a great pride in the Castle, and we have not liked to see this deterioration. We determined that it should not be allowed to fall into ruins. There are already too many ruins in Ireland.” He also bought the land in front of the castle from the trustees “in order that it should never be built on and the castle would be seen in all its dignity and splendour”.

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Today, Kilkenny Castle is open to the public all year round and is largely a Victorian remodeling of the thirteenth century defensive Castle. Each year, hundreds of thousands of visitors come to see this grand country house and walk through its fifty acres of rolling parkland with mature trees and an abundance of wildlife. Other features include a formal terraced rose garden, woodlands and a man-made lake, which were added in the nineteenth century. There is also a tearoom, playground and several orienteering trails for visitors to enjoy.

There are ornamental gardens on the city side of the castle, and extensive land and gardens to the front. It has become one of the most visited tourist sites in Ireland. Part of the National Art Gallery is on display in the castle.

Rose Garden

kilkenny-castle-diana-w.jpgLocated on the north-west side of the castle is a formal garden with axial paths radiating from a central fountain retains much of the basic form that could have been there during the ducal period. The existing fountain is probably the base of an original seventeenth-century water feature. Two lead statues stand on pedestals near the castle: one is of Hermes after the original in the Vatican Collection, and the other is of Diana the Huntress. All of the garden features, including the terracing, have been recently restored.

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For my sketch subject, I focused mostly on the fountain. The fountain sculpture is that of three mermaids. I decided to frame it and put on the foreground the sculpture and 2 tourists.

Castle’s Parkland

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The Castle’s Parkland is south of the castle and is made up of fifty acres of rolling parkland with mature trees and an abundance of wildlife. Other features include woodlands and a man-made lake, which were added in the nineteenth century. There is also a tearoom, playground and several orienteering trails for visitors to enjoy.

In this sketch, I mostly drew in people enjoying the park. Like the fountain sketch, I thought it would be cool to frame it and a few folks on the foreground (again).

The Watch Tower

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Canal Square is just below the Rose Garden on the banks of the River Nore. My sketch shows a small watch tower (gate lodge) stands guard to a wide public walkway that goes along the river that eventually circumvent the entire castle and parkland property.

In my next post, we’ll finish our time in Kilkenny by exploring the Medieval Mile.

[Contents are mostly from Wikipedia and kilkennycastle.ie]

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Sketching Ireland #6

Kilkenny – At Last!

LOL! We’re finally completing the first leg of the itinerary that I’m following based on a travel blob by Wanderlust Crew. We’re getting into Kilkenny Ireland. Technically, the first leg should have taken only a few hours drive on the M9 from Dublin, but with my detours… hahaha… we’re about 5 days later, give or take (vicariously, of course).

Kilkenny, which means “church of Cainnech”, may be the smallest city in Ireland, but for a time during the 17th century Kilkenny was unofficially the capital of Ireland. Built on both banks of the River Nore, this 400 year plus city is a tourist destination, and its environs include historic buildings such as Kilkenny Castle, St. Canice’s Cathedral and round tower, Rothe House, Shee Alms House, Black Abbey, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Kilkenny Town Hall, St. Francis Abbey, Grace’s Castle, and St. John’s Priory. Kilkenny is also known for its craft and design workshops, the Watergate Theatre, public gardens and museums. Annual events include Kilkenny Arts Festival, the Cat Laughs comedy festival and music at the Kilkenny Roots Festival. [contents from Wikipedia]

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Before we head in to the city, we’re making a quick stop at the Paddy’s Country Pub just off the M9 for a late breakfast or a brunch. Based on Tripadvisor dot com, a commentary recommended Irish Bacon and Cabbage. I loved sketching this pub. The front all the way up to the roof was covered with a thick vine foliage.

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google-maps-kil2.jpgAfter breakfast, we got back on the M9 and because I’m using the hover mode on Google Earth/Map, I can see that I have two exit the M9 and take the N10 into Kilkenny.

If this was an actual vacation and not a vicarious one, I would not want to bring my towed tear drop camper into a busy city. So, we needed to find someplace to camp. Fortunately, after doing some googling, I found the Tree Grove which was south of the city and conveniently just off the N10. The campground was the only one listed in the area. After ditching the trailer, we got back on the N10 and work our way back to the North side of the city to meet up with some people.

Kilkenny is divided by the River Nore. We drove around the eastern side of the city which happened to be quite modern. Most of the touristy stuff is on the western side. We were in the Newpark district when we drove by a marsh.

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The Newpark Fen or Marsh is a diverse habitat with open water and a rich variety of bird, mammal, plant and insect species. It was designated an area of scientific interest and is recognised as being of local scientific importance. It is a most important natural reserve with no less than 49 different species of birds identified to date and more than 70 species of plants, trees and shrubs. It includes a bird feeding area, wildlife information boards, a 2km circular walk and a wheelchair accessible walkway. In my sketch of the marsh, I included an Irish duck on the foreground. After the marsh, we head for the river.

The River Nore is a 140-kilometre (87 mi) long river. Along with the River Suir and River Barrow, it is one of the constituent rivers of the group known as the Three Sisters. After it flows through the city it will eventually end up emptying into the Celtic Sea way far south. When you have a river like the Nore in a tourist city, what can you expect? Kayaking!

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By the way, those people we’re meeting, happen to be my brother and his wife. That’s them in my sketch. Well, in reality, that’s their faces on the bodies of actual kayakers on the actual River Nore. Supposedly, they would have leisurely kayaked down the river under bridges and past the Kilkenny Castle then land near the campground. Meanwhile, as we crossed the Green’s Bridge again, I spotted a giant sundial.

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It is the Monumental Sundial entitled Arch and Sundial in the garden beside Green’s Bridge. The Arts Council (sometimes called the Arts Council of Ireland) commisioned artist Brian King to mark the success of Kilkenny in the Tidy Towns competition in 1985. A nearby plaque tells the user how to read the sundial and how to convert sun time to watch time. The Arabic hour numerals are carved into the seats of the pinic stools. [contents from http://www.sundials-ireland.com]

In my next post, we go to Kilkenny Medeivel Mile. See you then.

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Sketching Ireland #4

Had to Stop at Castledermot

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Well, I’m back on the M9. I had to work myself back to Ballytore. Okay, I confess! I cheated! I flew back over the mountains back to my last stop on the M9.

It’s kinda funny, but the first leg of this Irish tour was suppose to be at Kilkenny. I hope you all don’t mind me making these extra stops. Because… hahaha… I’m making another “un-itinerary’ stop. It is a small town just off the M9, named Castledermot. At first, by its name, I thought there was castle about. But Castledermot (in County Kildare) was originally called ‘Diseart Diarmad’; meaning ‘Dermot’s Hermitage’. Now, there is a castle about 4-5 miles away, across the M9 from Castledermot. It was modernly refurbished into a hotel overlooking a golf course. I decided to focus on the small town.

Ruins of Franciscan Friary

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Believe it or not, this tiny town had historical significance. And to my delight I found part of it right on the main road just across a gas station. It was a ruin of a Franciscan friary which was once a very important ecclesiastical centre in this part of Ireland. This ‘frontier’ location was significant enough to attract many unwanted visitors over the years. It was attacked by Vikings in 841 and 867, the Normans in 1169, Edward the Bruce in 1316, the McMurroughs in 1405 and 1427, the Crown forces in 1530 and of course good old Cromwell whose forces destroyed most of the place in 1650. The town had been so important at one stage that it was allowed to mint its own coins. By 1850 however Castledermot was described as having ‘neither trade nor manufacture’ and is now wholly dependent on agriculture. [content from Wikipedia]

The sketch I made is of the inside of the friary showing the oldest intact stone window in Western Europe. It is believed the Franciscan Friary in Castledermot or Thrisledermot, as it was known at that time, was founded by Walter de Riddlesford II in the early part of the 13th century. All that remains of the Friary today is an undifferentiated nave and chancel church, with a 14th century aisle and transept added to the northside. There are three side chapels on the eastern side of the transept. An unusual feature of the building is the defensive tower attached to the south side of the church. [content from Wikipedia]

St Dairmuid’s Monastic Site

About 2 blocks from the ruins is an older monastic site founded by St Dairmuid back at 815 or 818 CE. He was the son of Dairmait, high king of Ireland, and was an abbot and bishop. However, he died in 823 CE not long after founding his monastery. His feast-day is held on 23rd June.

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Today, you’ll find in the ancient monastic site, the church of St James (which is modern) and a round tower, now somewhat damaged, dating from the 10th century. You’ll also find the foundations of a ruined church, a reconstructed Romanesque doorway (arch), grave-slabs dating from the 8th-12th century and two 9th century High Crosses.

Castledermot High Crosses  St Dairmuid s Cross   Ancient Cross   The Megalithic Portal and Megalith Map .pngA high cross or standing cross is a free-standing Christian cross made of stone and often richly decorated. The best preserved of the two high crosses, the North Cross, stands at 10 feet tall and is made of granite. On it’s base (front) there is a hunting scene, while on the back the miracle of the loaves and fishes. The shaft (front) has panels depicting biblical scenes, including David with his harp and Adam and Eve. The central panel between the wheel-head (heaven) shows the crucifixion of Christ.

The South Cross has only the granite shaft remaining but the detail, although worn, shows Daniel in the lion’s den in the lower panel (front) while the top panel has the sacrifice of Isaac; the middle panel has Celtic interlacing and spirals (front and back).

Castledermot-holed-stone-w.jpgIn the graveyard is a holed stone that was formerly known as the ‘swearing stone’. A ringed cross is carved on one face of the stone and the circular hole extends through the centre of the cross. The purpose of this stone is somewhat enigmatic, but it is suggested that it may have been used during wedding ceremonies or for swearing oaths or allegiances in early Christian times. [contents by megalithicireland.com]

After Castledermot, there is one other stop before we reach Kilkenny, the large town of Carlow. I hope to see you then.

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