eventually give me his handkerchief, but only after he’d given me a piece of his mind. In all fairness to my beloved, Jimmy had graciously allowed me to go first before presenting his closing argument. My tears were essentially my rebuttal.
It was day ten of our ten-day Brendan Tour of the Republic of Ireland. That fact alone speaks volumes.
Ten days usually marks the shelf life for Jimmy and me when it comes to travel where tour buses are concerned, even the Emerald Isle. Thereafter everything starts to go stale: our physical, intellectual and emotional stamina for new experiences; our tolerance for the rude, egotistical, and/or generally annoying people with whom we suddenly find ourselves sharing the journey; our patience with one another.
Yes, even a fully-furnished, recently renovated 800-year-old castle boasting a long line of Earls, Dukes and Marquesses from the politically astute and wealthy Butler family did little to impress that morning. It’s always difficult to see past my nose with spite filling the frame and fatigue fogging my brain.
I am at a loss when it comes to describing the complex architectural styles reflected in the eight centuries that marked the life of the original Anglo-Norman stone castle built during the first decade of the 13th century by William Marshal, 4th Earl of Pembroke (1146-1219). Undoubtedly the fire burning in my belly had something to do with short circuiting my memory when it comes to specifics.
I can tell you that the impressive restoration efforts in those rooms open to tours, the Ante Room, the Chinese Drawing Room, the State Drawing Room, the Tapestry Room, the Library, the Blue Bedroom, the Picture Gallery and the Chinese Bedroom reflected late 19th century styles: priceless Flemish tapestries and paintings graced the walls; sumptuous gold fabric and lace were part of the furnishings; embroidered velvet fabrics adorned canopies and beds topped with silk covered quilts; the same velvet fabrics were found on the chairs as well as the windows; silver bowls, spoons, and damask linens were used at the table.
It was in these state apartments that James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormond, received the Papal Nuncio Giovanni Battista Rinuccini during the Irish Confederate Wars. King James was also a guest of Kilkenny Castle in the last years of the 17th century.
Following the execution of England’s King Charles I, Oliver Cromwell, an English military and political leader and later Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, swept through Ireland bringing an end to the Irish Confederate Wars as he ruthlessly restored his control. In 1650 he attacked Kilkenny Castle, battering the now-missing south wall of the once square-shaped Castle before the town of Kilkenny surrendered.
Jimmy and I had finally worked our way via musical chairs to the coveted front seat of the bus; only the ride from our hotel to Kilkenny Castle earlier that morning had gone from panoramic to pathetic with Jimmy and I sitting in stony silence.
There was no denying (especially knowing Jimmy was right!) I was burning the candle at both ends, touring all day, blogging all night, usually to no avail with the internet as spotty as an adolescent with acne.
“Come to bed, Sherry. It’s late,” Jimmy implored the first few nights we were in Ireland.
“Be there in a minute,” I’d promise.
We both knew better.
Really! You’d think I’d know better. Perhaps in my sleep deprived state, I thought I was 26 rather than 62. You could call me passionate, although Jimmy might argue the point with me.
I knew I was done arguing; I was also done blogging five days a week, too. But then you already knew that.
There was a time when I could pull an all-nighter and live to boast of my accomplishments. At my age, that outcome (living through the all-nighter) is no longer a given; and boasting is so gauche.
I love my life; my husband, my family, my friends, old and new. I love who I am when I travel, too, be it around the world or around the block. I am fearless, full of vigor, in touch with the moment (too many moments, perhaps) and mankind. That pretty much sums up 26, right!? I appreciate anew that life is a daring adventure when we’re travelling; when we're not tethered to prejudice, bigotry, envy, greed and the familiar. That wisdom truly adds depth to my 62 years.
In an effort to hold onto all that wisdom and wonder, I feel compelled to reflect on the journey; and so I blog to make sense of it all; the past, the history; the people, the cultures; the places, the architecture.
Jimmy likes to simply sleep on it all; preferably not alone.
It’s an offer I can no longer refuse. He is, after all, a wise and patient and benevolent King of our little Castle, at home and abroad.