As we motored from Killarney northward toward Galway, we stopped in several small towns whose only “claim to fame” might be the fact that they still used a few thatched roofs on their museum or gift shop. It became a bit of a joke that we were on the “ABC tour,” which stands for either “Another Bloody Cathedral” or “Another Bloody Castle.”
I didn’t mind a bit. For many years, I taught 7th graders about the middle ages, and the castles with “turrets” “portcullis,” “murder holes,” “arrow loops” and “great halls.” It felt like I was back in the classroom, and appreciated the extra enhancements my good memory afforded me. (Geez, I’ll start sounding like I’m in the middle ages if I’m not careful!)
I enjoyed looking at the main streets of small towns, all the businesses aligned along the roadway, sharing a wall on each side with another business. Quaint, and functional, the differences becoming apparent when you saw the bright colors of the independent buildings.
Just west of Limerick we came to Bunratty, which is a stereotypical castle tourist trap, but it was a fun stop nevertheless. Built like a small settlement within the castle walls, it’s “possible” that William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, may have slept there as an infant.
I spent some time wandering the courtyards of this “living” museum, talking with the man who made the field plows, and the teens tending the “authentic” settlement animals.
The great hall smelled pretty authentic, with peat fires keeping the place from getting too cold, and the pungent order was one I will not soon forget. Not unpleasant, but definitely not something I’d smelled before.
Lunch was always “on our own,” and I found a sausage wrapped in pastry, and a “mystery meat” and cheese dough-wrapped, hand-held pie kind of thing. This particular sausage wasn’t to my liking at all, but the meaty pastry was just fine.