Butlers and butlers

Castle fetishism is an aspect of the Irish tourist experience I don’t really understand, but since we were staying a block away from Kilkenny Castle, we figured we might as well pay it a visit. The surrounding park is huge and lovely, even in the rain:

The interior was mostly interesting as a demonstration of the randomness and inconvenience of living in a building that has endured a series of partial and not always improving renovations over the course of centuries. You could see why the Butler descendants were ready to unload the place by the 1930s, ostentatious family portraits and all. I wish photography had been allowed so I could have recorded the basement display of 1980s department-store mannequins dressed in chain mail and vaguely monastic robes and painted-on facial hair.

Even more museologically challenged is the Rothe House, a 17th-century townhouse that has been converted into a repository of Kilkenny-related memorabilia and textbook-style paintings of Scenes from Olden Times. I did enjoy one display about a local gentleman who patented a totally implausible flying machine and induced his butler to attempt the first flight, which of course ended poorly for all concerned. The story had a certain P. G. Wodehouse comic flavor, except for the part where the butler actually has to do what the master tells him. Here’s another sample exhibit (apologies for the shadow):

Artist Rendering?

All in all my favorite Official Kilkenny Tourist Attraction was St. Canice’s Cathedral. From the medieval Office of St. Canice, which we heard very nicely performed by the Schola Hyberniae, I know that Canice was the patron saint of Kilkenny and that he put out a fire somewhere in Italy, and this is the full extent of my expertise. For some reason the musical performance was held not at St. Canice’s but at the Black Abbey, a smaller more active church plastered with Dominican recruiting posters. But back to St. Canice’s:

The place is crowded with monuments to assorted Butlers. This isn’t one of them, but I like her:

I was too cowardly to climb the round tower, and felt justified when a local lady told us a story about how as a girl she went up it with her boyfriend and he feinted at pushing her off but she married him anyway but never went up there again.

So here’s a random picture of Irishtown.


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