I woke up at 8:10 a.m. I had told Dick that we'd have breakfast at 8:30. I had the full Irish breakfast which includes egg, bacon, sausage, black and white pudding which are more like sausage, and tomato. Some other hikers joined us. They, as is the custom in Ireland, hike without trail by map and compass. They were unfamiliar with the South Leinster Way. As we paid, we asked Dick where we might find maps and he recommended a couple of stores.
It was a spectacular day without a cloud in the sky. At Clery's, Mr. Clery helped us find wonderful package of map and narrative of the South Leinster Way. (As it turned out, this map was to be critical, as much of the South Leinster Way is no longer marked and without this map we would have had difficulty navigating.)
We walked back through the town to the old bridge and along the river to the castle where Ann Boleyn was said to have been born. Then we headed out along Route 24 - a busy road - until it turned off onto a country road at a sports club (named for Sean Kelly, a well known cyclist from Carrick). We hiked along a road and over a fast flowing creek and uphill, picking some blackberries that grew in the hedgerows. Eventually we found that the road had changed from our map and we had gone about a half-mile out of our way. We backtracked along Route 24.
We took the road to Tibberaghny Ė a small road which crossed from Tipperary into Kilkenny and leading to a house attached to a castle covered with scaffolding and under construction. I walked in the drive and was met by Louie Downey, the owner. He said that we were welcome to look at the ruins of the old monastery below the castle. As we talked to him and commented on his energy in rebuilding the castle tower, he volunteered that we could climb to the top of the castle. We climbed the narrow circular stone stairway to the top which commanded a view of the Suir River Valley. The black and orange flag flying from the turrets, we were later told by Louie, is the Kilkenny flag. There was an all-Ireland hurling championship between Kilkenny and Tipperary, and he liked to fly the Kilkenny flag so that all Tipperary could see it.
We continued by the ruins of the monastery and an old graveyard and then up through a field and back on the road to Piltown. There we bought some bread, cheddar cheese and water but didnít stop as we had a long way to our evening destination.
The road was busy and not as pleasant as our morning walk because of the traffic. We looked for a dolman which we never located, hiking on to a turn in the road and up a little trail where we found a nice spot for a picnic. I got out my poncho only to find that my knapsack was flapping free of its frame on one side. Bon and I jumped to repairs with the extra clips we had, and then settled down to lunch. Bon had bought a Cornish pastie with lamb and I ate the cheese and bread. The sun came down on us between the clouds and we sat on my poncho and relaxed.
The narrow road led gradually uphill through rolling countryside with the silhouettes of mountains in the distance. At one point a car passed us and was stopped by an oncoming car, the oncoming driver recommending that the driver coming our way pull over to accommodate an approaching herd of cattle. I stood with the driver in front of his car as the herd came at us. Huge and steaming, they backed onto each other in fright and I had my doubts about standing my ground. With great reluctance and much prodding by the cowherd (and his canine assistant) the cattle finally trotted by the car. The fellow standing with me explained, "An Irish traffic jam."
Bon and I continued on with more clouds on either side of us showering on the distant mountains. The grass was startlingly green from the rains. As we ambled down a hill, a fellow in a beat-up white van stopped in front of us and asked if we wanted a ride. Bon demurred but as I was concerned about getting to Mullinavat in time for dinner, I accepted. We started toward the back of his van. First he gave us a volume of his poetry which I asked him to inscribe. Then we headed down the road and he let us off at a waterfall about a mile from town. Being tired we settled for a glimpse from the road. We headed into town passing some young hurlers practicing at the school field. We found the Inn and B&B recommended by our innkeeper in Carrick, deciding on the B&B. When we told our hostess that we were going to hand wash our laundry she offered to wash and dry it for us! We gave her the laundry and relaxed with a cup of hot tea in the living room.
She recommended The House of the Rising Sun across the road for dinner. We later learned that Cromwell had stayed the night there on his way to Carrick-on-Suir. We had a good dinner there (steak and lamb hock) and chatted with a pleasant couple who, when I inquired about the round things they were eating, offered us one of their fried mushrooms. They were very friendly and recommended the Irish music at Seamus Murphy's pub which would begin at 10:00 p.m.
We went back to our B&B and I had begun on my journal in the living room when Brigit and Ned, our innkeepers, came in. She brought our laundry all clean and folded and we had an interesting chat with them, much of it about Irish history.
Afterwards, Bon and I walked down to Murphy's pub. The musicians and the rest of the town soon began arriving. It was a small space and an older fellow, Thomas Delahunty (Main Street, Mullinavat) sat down next to Bon. We understood very little of his conversation. He gave us a chocolate and later gave Bon a gold heart. I talked a little with the chap next to me who was not easy to understand either. The music was wonderful with a concert flute, a guitar, a banjo, an accordion and one, and sometimes two, drums called bodhran which are played with two pieces of wood called bones. We stayed until a little after 11:00 p.m. walking up a quiet street and back to our B&B.
Copyright 2002 Donald R. Chauncey - All rights reserved