Breakfast was a little bit later this morning, not starting until 8am (as opposed to 7:30am on every other morning of our trip). The meal consisted of "coffee," tea, fruit, cereal that bore more than a passing resemblance to cardboard, and a plate of various meats: grilled ham, sausage, blood sausage, etc.
After breakfast, we changed into our performance clothing and left for Kilkenny Castle. This was a hunting lodge for the Butler family for the better part of 600 years and was inhabited by them from the 1300's until the 1930's. There is amazing artwork and a huge mahogany staircase that has to be seen to be believed. The rose garden outside was also wonderful to see.
Side note: the amount of wealth that it takes to purchase such land and build such a house is staggering. I've always been firmly a middle class kind of person, and I definitely do not understand the financial stratosphere that that kind of construction requires. I mean, a receiving room 150 feet long, with artwork from five centuries? That's amazing.
From there, we went to the church, which was our performance site. It is a beautiful, thousand year old church - truly the performance opportunity of a lifetime! For a 1pm performance, the church was surprisingly packed. It's always better to sing for a full house than an empty one - after all, a performance without an audience is rehearsal.
Our driver had the day off, so his wife met him in Kilkenny to spend the day. They came to our performance, which was really nice. The chorus mobbed them after the performance and wound up bringing her to tears because of the performance and the nice-ness and friendliness of the group! That's always a nice thing to see.
At this point, paths diverged. Jim and Joe went on an excursion to find the nicest pub in town. Personally, I walked the mile or so back to the hotel, stopping at any store that caught my interest while hunting for presents for my children. I stopped at a cute little townie cafe (meaning, not in a tourist area - I'm fairly certain that I was the only American in the place) for a cottage pie lunch. I poked around in the local department stores, like Penney's - not JC Penney's, like we have in the States, but Penney's. I wanted to see what sort of things people are buying. Lots of Adidas, apparently, and New York styles. When I got back to the hotel, I set out to see if my eyelids were light-tight or if any leaks had sprung up since the morning.
The rest of the group did their own thing as well. They took a bus back to the hotel to change out of formal performance gear, then some of them got back on the bus to get dropped off downtown to explore. I actually ran into a big chunk of chorus folks outside of a milkshake place, where I had a milkshake made with a candy bar, milk, and soft serve ice cream. Much shopping was done, and apparently a nice chunk of chorus did some singing at a local lunch place.
One pickup quartet messing around with some of our performance music in Kilkenny met a man who was also trekking to Dublin today. He said he'd be at our show tomorrow!
A large group of people toured the Smithwick brewery (pronounced Smih-tik, accent on the first syllable). They had a neat time, and the brewery gave plentiful samples at the end of the tour.
After dinner, a big group went to the Kyteler's Inn to hear some music. They were too big of a group to sit in the bar like Katie, Amy, and I did the previous evening, so it was a different experience. They didn't stay particularly long, but they did hear some fun music. Another group stayed at the hotel and listened to a guitar player / singer in the hotel bar. He did a mix of American music and Irish music. Apparently, Green Day was heard... not precisely what one would expect in an Irish bar, but...
Personally, I spent an hour or so talking to my wife via iMessage, as the hotel wifi had blocked my voice over ip line and wasn't strong enough for FaceTime or Skype. I then watched a little tv on my iPad, finished a book, and went to sleep early.
This morning, we are headed to see a couple of castles before checking into our hotel in Dublin. Tonight we will have dinner and a show at the Merry Ploughboy. Should be fun!
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