After meeting Donna at Dublin airport, we checked into the Rental car counter where we were directed to a Shuttle bus which took us over to the Europcar depot. There we picked up our Opel Corsa, complete with Sat Nav. Now, Irish Mary back at Tourism Ireland NZ in Auckland assured me I'd not need a Sat Nav in Ireland "& anyway, they don't come with an Irish accent" she said. Who was she kidding!? With my sense of direction Mary, a Sat Nav is an absolute must.
|Our trusty Opel Corsa rental car|
We were heading to Kilkenny for a couple of days but detoured via Glendalough, set in the majestic valley of the Wicklow Mountains National Park. The weather was perfect - blue skies & white puffy clouds!
|Heading over the Wicklow Mountains to Glendalough|
|On the way to Glendalough, Wicklow Mountains|
Actually, Mary didn't especially need a 'handsome' farmer as she had a man friend of her own which we had left guarding the car stuck in the ditch. She happily told us that she'd met him on a internet dating site and this was her first outing with him! We soon track down handsome farmer a few kilometers on, who appeared very willing indeed, to give Mary a hand.
Of course, as seems to be the done thing in Ireland... we left with Mary's phone number and strict instructions to look her up when we got to County Meath.
|Glendalough Monastic Site, Glendalough, Co. Wicklow|
|Glendalough, Co. Wicklow|
|6th or 7th century Granite Cross, Glendalough|
|Glendalough Cemetery, Co. Wicklow|
|Glendalough Round Tower, Co. Wicklow|
|Cathedral Ruins, Glendalough, Co. Wicklow|
|St Kevin's Church, Glendalough, Co. Wicklow|
|The Round Tower, Glendalough, Co. Wicklow|
After spending an hour at Glendalough, we had to decide which would be the quickest route to Kilkenny. We eventually decided on the R756 to Knockroe then onto the N81. Just north of Rathvilly, Aiofe our Sat Nav directed us onto the R726 - who were we to argue! And it was on the R726 just east of Carlow that we happened upon the Brownshill Dolmen - good ole' Aiofe! Had she recognised the M9 when we went through Johnstown, a much quicker route to Kilkenny, we'd have taken that and missed passing the Brownshill Dolmen altogether.
This was a magnificent structure and one we would not have sought out because neither of us had ever heard of it before.
|The Maginificent Brownshill Portal Tomb between Ballynakillbeg & Kernanstown|
|Brownhill Dolmen, Co. Carlow|
Keep you're eyes open for it on the left as you come into the small settlement of Ballynakillbeg, if you blink you'll miss it! The capstone of this dolmen alone, weights an estimated 100 tonnes & is reputed to be the heaviest in Europe. It is thought to have been built between 4000 & 3000 BC by some of the earliest farmers to inhabit the island. It really is worth following your Sat Nav to Carlow to find this. From the car park it's a 5 - 10 minute stroll on a a well maintained footpath which leads right to the dolmen.
From Carlow we eventually did find our way back out onto the M9 which took us on to the N10 into Kilkenny. We checked into Mena House B&B on Castlemoner Road around 5.30pm & were welcomed by the lovely Katherine Molloy. As it is early in the holiday season, we found ourselves the only guests at Mena. Katherine looked after us like long lost friends. Handily situated to Kilkenny town centre & spacious off street parking, we found Mena House to suit our needs perfectly.
|Mena House B&B, Kilkenny|