Ireland is a beautiful country of ruins.
Scattered throughout western Ireland, tucked behind stone hedges, are several stone structures that were one the family homestead or the barn. Passerbys can see an outline of the home, maybe a window or remaining stone wall, that has been taken over by area flora.
The shell stone structures offer a small glimpse of the history of the region. A look into what once was. But it also adds a sort of magical element to the landscape that plays into the clash of the clans. The numerous towers were the signals or how they communicated possible invasion, fire, etc to surrounding homes and the next tower down the line. “Cell towers” if you will.
Ireland has been working hard to perserve the history and heritage of their castles and landmarks. Many of the castles date back as far as the 12th century (Rock of Cashel) and can be toured today. Many offer medieval banquets or a walk back through time with a folk village.
Dunguaire Castle, Kinvara
Rock of Cashel
The Hole in the Wall
If you want to know the true dirt on the stone structures in Kilkenny, there is one spot I highly recommend. The Hole in the Wall pub.
Mike and I walked by a small A-board promoting the Hole in the Wall ale house. I looked down the narrow alley way, intrigued. It sounded like us, but I wasn’t sure about the look of things. The street was packed with tourists holding maps and smart phones, posing for selfies. The alley towards this ale house was a bit barren at best.
“Yeah, the Hole in the Wall,” yelled a large man wearing a striped t-shirt that reminded me of the sweater Freddy Kruger made famous. He had a cell phone in his hand and disappeared from view as quickly as he appeared.
Mike and I debated going to a bar on the water that had a gorgeous view of the castle for a pint or going to a pub tucked into an alley way that looked a bit shady. Perhaps even a front for robbing tourists. We took option B.
Turns out, the Hole in the Wall pub, while small, is loaded with history. The barkeep was a friendly guy, even with the Kruger shirt, who talked about the building’s start in the 12th century, the various holders of the building and even the brothel history. Which by the way, is where the name came from. During the brothel time, they had some high end guests who needed to slip in and out without being spotted. A hole was cut in the back courtyard wall to accomodate them. Hence, the Hole in the Wall was named.
It was an entertaining history lesson from an unexpected source. It was our kind of tour.