Wednesday 20 July 2011

Horses - four courses

Busy, busy day - proof again that there's more to see and do in even a small corner of Ireland than you can ever hope to squeeze into a laughable 5 days. First there was Waterford's Treasures: rooms full of silver and gold and crystal chandeliers with more than 200 prisms sparkling - and also more pleasingly ordinary stuff, like a tin clockwork toy Miss Busy-Bee the Typist and posters of Ireland's first pop superstars The Royal performing their smash hit The Huckleback in 1964.

Then a quick look at Waterford Crystal over the road where a grizzly bear 50cm high would set you back 30,000 euros, or an American football helmet - should you have a use for a glass one - a mere 17,500; and where Noel the duster claimed to have "nerves of steel" but that when accidents happen "it pays to run fast."

At Cashel Rock, that scourge of the tourist - scaffolding - was all over one side of the castle/cathedral like a rash, but down at Bru Boru, a cultural project, we were delighted by a mini-show of singing, dancing and music of such a high standard, we wished could see the proper evening show. Mind, it's hard work tapping along to that infectious music, so my ankles would be weak after that.

The horses came at Coolmore Stud, where a dozen or so stallions live in enviable elegance: lawns, gardens, trees, their loose boxes like pretty little houses, and endlessly pampered - though having five men watching narrowly when you have your end away, filming every moment, must take the edge off the luxury.

And tonight a four-course medieval banquet at Bunratty Castle, a tall and imposing 15th century castle, where Tom the Butler, some pink-cheeked wenches, an accomplished harpist and a lugubrious fiddler thoroughly entertained us while we ate a surprisingly tasty dinner. A long day, happily ended in the comfort of the Bunratty Castle Hotel's big, soft bed.

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