Annual outing of the Friends of Saint Canice’s Cathedral, Kilkenny
Bright sunlight provided the perfect backdrop to the popular outing of the Friends of Saint Canice on 20th September last. This time the destination was the town of Kildare and its imposing Saint Bridget’s cathedral. As is now well-established practice, the route taken is very far from the most direct, motorway option. So it was up the hills behind Johnswell and on to Mount Nugent and the high ground straddling the three counties borders of Kilkenny, Laois and Carlow. There a real find was the delightful hostelry, The Ridge Bar, run by the Rory Sheerin and family where morning coffee and warm scones were enjoyed helped by copious amounts of cream and jam.
The numerous personalities of Carlow from Pierce Butler one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, William Dargan father of the Irish railway system, Olivia O’Leary and John Tyndall, the scientist and mountain climber were all discussed as the coach wound its way in the capable hands of Ger Ronan along roads more suited to much smaller modes of transport. We paused at Holy Trinity Church, Bilbo where Averill Matthews told the inspiring story of her mother’s family relocating there during the sad time of the 1918 flu pandemic.
The churches grounds were given by the Alexander Family which in the person of Mrs Frances Alexander (née Fanny Humphreys (composer of the popular ‘All things bright and beautiful’) which prompted all in the coach to join in a joyous rendering of the song.
The 9,000 plus year long story of forestry in Ireland was to the fore as we continued along the tree bedecked ridge drive before descending past the 19th century, state-of-the-art water reservoir.
to view the inspiring Romanesque doorway of the Killeshin Church with its links to Saint Diarmait who died in 565AD. It was he who pronounced the famous legal principal ‘to every cow its calf, to every book its copy’.
Carlow, the Barrow Navigation, Saint Patrick’s confession, Shrule Castle Castledermot, Athy and Gordon Bennett were all touched upon and their stories duly told. Finally Kildare was reached with a concluding puzzle, involving old money occasioned much scratching of heads before the remainder of £66-16 shillings and no pence and three farthings less £44-5 shillings, 4pence and one farthing was finally agreed.
After a pleasant lunch in the stylish Silken Thomas restaurant was enjoyed we took part in a short service in the imposing Cathedral taken by Richard Codd who joined us from Tullow. This was followed by a tour of the church and the grounds by Ken Dunne of the Select Vestry.
Off again on the return journey with a nod to Count John McCormack in Monasterevin where we were just in time to watch the lifting bridge in action over one of the very few aqueducts which carries the Grand Canal over the River Barrow. Then onwards to Durrow and our final meal in the Durrow Hotel where once again Joseph Murphy did the honours with style. Another wonderful day of fellowship concluded with the short journey back to Kilkenny.