Friday 17 July – Underground

Our host suggested that we visit the “Promised Land” or County Tipperary as it is known to the rest of the world.  His family is from County Tipperary so of course for them it is the best place in the world.  His suggestions are always welcomed so we decided that would be today’s foray, preceded by taking in the two activities that were missed when I went the wrong way to Kilkenny.  The Discovery Centre at Caslecomer and Dunmore Cave both in County Kilkenny.

First off was the Discovery Centre.  Castlecomer was a coal mining area.  I had no idea that Ireland even mined coal – Britain yes, but not Ireland.  The Discovery Centre is set in a large park like area which is accessible to all for free.  You only have to pay if you want to see the exhibition, which we did.  It is a multi-media set up which moves progressively from room to room. We were the only people there at the time so we got to have a private screening.  The attendant pressed Go, the lights went down and the screen lit up and the presentation began.  When the presentation has finished in each room the lights dim and the lights in the next room come up signalling that it is time to move on.  It is a really well done and interesting exhibition which takes in not only the actual mining of coal but the geology of coal being formed starting way back at the dawn of time – a mixture of history and science.  There are some artifacts on display and in the last room by pressing various buttons interviews are played with descendants of the man who inherited the coal mine and took it from strength to strength and also with ex-miners.  The mine is closed now which was a great blow to the area when it happened as, like in mining areas in other places, generations of families had been miners and knew no other life.

Also at the Discovery Centre (the exhibition and cafe are housed in a new building) there are buildings that were existing that have been turned into artists shops.  There are all sorts of different artists – a goldsmith, a potter, etc – and I was a bit cheeky and took these photos through the window of a particular shop where bags and shoes are made of felt.  It was just too tempting not to take the pics… 

Felt Bags, Castlecomer Discovery Centre

Felt shoes, Castlecomer Discovery Centre

Aren’t they just divine creations.  I wasn’t feeling rich enough to do more than indulge in a sneaky photo or two.

Onwards after Castlecomer to Dunmore Cave where we took the tour with an entertaining knowlegeable cave guide from County France!  The cave is a series of caverns and was first mentioned in the literature in the 9th Century.  There is a legend relating to a massacre by Vikings in the cave in 928AD which has been backed up by archeological finds.  

It was long way down all those steps…

P1000709_2

…and when you go down then you have to get back up them again!!!

Onward then to County Tipperary and the Rock of Cashel which looms up in the distance quite unable to be missed. It was certainly a very strategic location on which to build a castle and cathedral.

Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary, Ireland

The views from the Rock are far and wide…

View from Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary, Ireland

Once again an optional guided tour was included in the ticket price so we took up that offer.  The guides make it all that more interesting and way more informative than the self-guided option.  It was worth braving the cold and wind – it may have been a strategic position but it sure is exposed to the elements!

Until next time…

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Posted on July 24, 2009, in Ireland, Trip. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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