we had breakfast at the hotel, and then checked out at 8:30 and loaded up the bus to head for Waterford, stopping first in Kilkenny. the drive took a few hour. I think today was the first day we encountered any actual rain in Ireland, but it wasn't anything heavy. we had a little time before our tour of the castle at Kilkenny, so the group scattered a but to checked out the crafts center and grab a bite to eat. the crafts center is located in what used to be the castle stables. the front areas are now two very nice gift shops, with a mixture of handmade local pieces as well as plenty of Irish souvenirs. above the shop is a little cafe. this was a very nice. however, if you cross the stable courtyard towards the back, you'll come to a pair of galleries. first let me say that the gallery spaces are walled almost entirely in windows, so the lighting is fantastic. the collection that was on exhibit that day was basketry from all over the world. it was a fascinating collection, but I might be a little biased. the array of styles, techniques, and materials was amazing. after I wandered around in there for a while, I headed back over to the castle for our tour time slot.
the castle is completely restored, and beautifully so. they don't allow photographs inside the castle, so the only ones I took were around the outside, and from the village bridge. the castle was fantastic - thick stone walls, tiny winding stairs, and grand staircases. the collection of landscape oils in the main drawing room reminded me of the American Art course I took back in college.
after the tour of the castle, mom and I walked through town and hiked (not kidding, it was a hike) up to St. Canice's Cathedral. besides St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, this was probably my favorite of the churches and cathedrals that we visited. the wooden roof is a restoration, and was carved and built without even a single nail. Bill was allowed to play the organ in this cathedral as well.
after the group gathered at the bus, we loaded up and headed for the town of Waterford, where we were staying for the next few days. Days Inn Waterford is actually three (maybe four now?) old buildings linked by enclosed hallways. it's a little odd, and if you ever stay there make sure you shower later in the day or at 6am, otherwise the hot water might run out on you. other than that the hotel looks very modern, and the pub downstairs is great for meeting some of the locals. later we headed out to dinner at a pub a few blocks over.