Kilkenny Castle – the big attraction that pulls the tour buses to Kilkenny by the dozens. Especially on summer weekends.
To be fair, I do understand why the tours would want to come. The Castle is beautiful and well worth a visit. Especially if you enjoy history. But if, on the other hand, you’ve had your fill of castles and the idea of wandering through corridors and dining rooms doesn’t appeal to you, take a stroll around the Castle grounds.
(Admission to the grounds is free and open to the public all day.)
To be honest, the grounds were one of my favorite parts of visiting the Castle. Beautiful grassy lawns, wooded pathways, and even a duck pond; all tucked into the radius of a few kilometers. And after gathering lunch items from a nearby street market one sunny afternoon, I enjoyed a leisurely walk and a wonderful picnic.
Another day, when the weather was wet and miserably grey, I went to the Castle’s Tea Rooms and cozied up with a coffee and a scone. Later, I wandered down the hall to the exhibit in the Butler Gallery (free admission).
As simple as this adventure might sound, like my picnic, this is a fond memory of my time spent in Kilkenny; particularly because I enjoyed the exhibit so much.
The Kilkenny based animation company Cartoon Saloon had recently released their film Song of the Sea. A tale of last Seal-child and the fantastic journey she and her brother embark upon. This same company created the Oscar nominated film The Book of Kells, and their work continues to display a beautifully magical and authentically Celtic feel to it. I’ve borrowed a few photos from the Internet to give you some idea.
The exhibit was an interactive, multi-media illustration of the animation process. Hundreds of sketches, prints, and storyboards lined the walls of the gallery; some black and white, some in color. As I strolled along the walls, moving from room to room, it was as if I were following the pathway of creativity and imagination. At the end of that pathway, I entered the third and final room. It was dark, decorated to resemble a cave, with blue and white lights dancing all around. You could almost feel the magic. Then suddenly, before you, the animation come to life. Projected onto the wall in a way that made you feel a part of it.
Standing there in the dark, I realized I was grinning in that childish “I just saw something that made me wonderfully happy” kind of way. Because it was one of those moments; the kind where you can’t quite explain what you’re experiencing, but you can feel it.