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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Cill Chainnigh

IRELAND | Tuesday, 5 June 2018 | Views [223]

One of my favourite travel quotes is "travel is glamourous only in retrospect" and it sure applies to how I reached Kilkenny ("Cill Channaigh" in Irish) today. I started out from Portaferry yesterday, and Heiko and Susan had to take their dog, Eddie, to the vet so they dropped me in Newtownards where it'd be a bit of a mission to reach the main highway. I knew it'd take a few short lifts to reach the highway so I got some lifts fairly easy, but getting lifts on the highway was a mission. After waiting 30 minutes I was picked up by a couple heading to Newry and then another lift would get me to the border. Two guys picked me up and they immediately wanted to sell me an iPhone. I was glad to be out of their car, but it would take another four lifts to get to Dublin. I tried to hitch along the M50 to the turnoff to Kilkenny, but one guy suggested a bus and said "you won't have much luck hitchhiking in Ireland." A bus would ultimately get me through Dublin but I didn't realize it was a bank holiday yesterday, so traffic was very sparse. I must've walked 5 km along the N7 away from Dublin before I was dropped at a servo where many truckies stop. As in Australia, many of them can't take passengers. Ireland has proven to be one of the more difficult countries for hitchhiking but I've had no problem finding CouchSurfing hosts; I only sent two requests in Dublin, one in Portaferry and that was to Heiko, and Carmel was the first of my four sent requests in Kilkenny to reply, and she agreed to host me.

"I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move." -Robert Louis Stevenson

Carmel is my CouchSurfing host in Kilkenny, and these days I find myself travelling to take photos, hitchhike, and meet people. I haven't kissed the Blarney Stone and I have absolute zero desire to, nor have I been to the Giant's Causeway (though I would like to go there someday). I've been in Ireland for nearly a week and my highlights have been the gorgeous weather and the people I've met. Carmel is one of those people whom I knew, as soon as I heard her voice, would be an awesome person to meet and stay with. Finally after midnight, two guys would pick me up and give me a lift to Athi. It was late and I felt bad about Carmel waiting up late for me. She was at her sister's barbecue earlier in the evening and I would have loved to join them for that, but I had terrible luck with lifts. In fact, it was substantially more difficult than I expected getting lifts yesterday. At Athi, I was dropped on the road to Carlow at around 1 AM but I figured I wasn't going to get a lift there so I just walked and I walked relentlessly. My head torch is useful when I'm hitching at night and I told myself "Chris Farrell, you're going to do this!" This time I needed a combination of Irish and Farrell luck. The lights of Athi got dimmer and dimmer and then I flashed my head torch at whatever car came by, only to have them whiz by. Eventually, two guys stopped, thinking I downed too much Guinness at the pub and then staggered out onto a dark road. The said they were going to call the guards (police) and see if they can help me. With my sore feet, I was running out of energy and I saw a sign stating that I was 38 km from Kilkenny. A car turned round, and it turned out they were two members of An Garda Siochana, the Irish police force. After speaking with them for a minute I said "I'll tell you what, if I offer you about €10 for petrol, could you give me a lift to Kilkenny?" They said they weren't allowed to accept money but they said they'd drop me somewhere, though Kilkenny was the next major town. In the end, they were really awesome and they were intrigued by my travels. After getting dropped at the Garda station in Kilkenny, a short taxi ride would get me to Carmel's ivy-covered home at 5 AM. 

After my adventures, it was time to explore Kilkenny. A much-needed sleep would leave me refreshed and I can't remember the last time I ate so much at breakfast. Carmel and her husband, Kielan, are fabulous hosts and offered me a lift into town as Carmel was back for her lunch break. My first stop of the day was Kilkenny Castle.

Completed in 1213, the castle will leave you speechless at first sight. It's amazing that I've been to 42 countries yet I've seen very few castles. For many years I've put Europe on the back burner due to the perception that everybody goes here but I feel I should start making it a priority. Europe has so much history and so much to see that you could spend a lifetime in just one country and not see it all. I was nearly in tears as I shot photos of Kilkenny Castle. Known as the Marble City, Kilkenny has a section known as the Medieval Mile. I strolled along there in search of a few geocaches, in which I found a few. After a miserable caching run the other day, I haven't been as focused on caching; sometimes it distracts from seeing a place and you'll miss sights as a result. My next stop was St. Canice' Cathedral.

Built in the 13th century, it's one of Ireland's finest examples of a medieval church. Many of the gravestones are so old there are no inscriptions on them due to being worn away. 

Wandering the back alleys of Kilkenny is both magical and romantic. This beautiful town brings a tear to my cheek.

Along the River Nore is where I found my Irish photographic match: a gorgeous view of the castle with loads of colour. 

If I were an artist I'd love to paint this with watercolour; this setting looks straight out of a medieval fairy tale, with castles, princes, magic, horses, knights, and so forth. What an idiot I am to only come to Ireland for one week. As my ancestral motherland, I already feel the urge to return. As my final stop of the day, I ended up at St. Mary's Cathedral: another Irish architectural masterpiece.

Tonight, Carmel and I would have an Irish dinner of bacon, potatoes, turnip, and cabbage. As a thank you I shared a bottle of French sauvignon blanc. Afterward I'd soar Juliett (my drone) over the Irish landscape and I'd shoot photos of a place where there's no such thing as a bad photo of. Ireland isn't the "Emerald Isle" for no reason. 

Get ready for Kilkenny to leave you speechless at first sight, as there are no other words to describe it. 

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