17 October 2010

A golden autumn day in Kilkenny

Autumn leaves on the Parade in Kilkenny (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2010)

Patrick Comerford

It was a real pleasure to travel down to Kilkenny this morning for the Harvest Thanksgiving Eucharist in Saint Canice’s Cathedral.

Leaving Dublin at 9 a.m., the fields in Co Kildare and Co Carlow were still covered in frost. It must have been a clear night last night, and the sun was lifting the frost off the green and golden fields in small clouds, so that the Blackstairs Mountains were partly masked by a rising Celtic Mist.

The new M9 motorway has cut the journey to Kilkenny to about 75 minutes, and with time on our hands, the four of us had a quick drive through the quiet Sunday morning streets of Kilkenny, introducing the Greek student among us to some of the historic buildings, including Saint John’s, the former site of Kilkenny College, Shee’s Alms House, the river, Kilkenny Castle, the newly restored Courthouse (Grace’s Castle) and Rothe House.

The cathedral was well decorated for the Harvest Eucharist, and although the choir was slightly depleted in numbers it was a pleasure from the Precentor’s stall to hear their interpretation of John Rutter’s Gloria, and from the pulpit to hear Malcolm Proud’s own Alleluia acclamation for the Gospel reading.

The children in the cathedral brought forward the harvest gifts ... and arranged the food for the coffee in the Chapter Room afterwards. There was a warm welcome from the cathedral congregation; so many of them are like old friends, and it was good to work with Dean Katharine Poulton once again.

Later, she showed us around Saint Canice’s Deanery, before five of us went to lunch in La Rivista in Parliament Street.

It was still surprisingly sunny for an Autumn Sunday afternoon in the second half of October. We strolled on through High Street, stopping to look at the side streets , the laneways and the slips of Kilkenny, including the Butterslip, the Tholsel and old Saint Mary’s, and paying a quick visit to the Kilkenny Bookshop.

We continued on into the Parade, visited the castle grounds and the Kilkenny Design shop and courtyard, and looked out from the back of Kilkenny Castle over the river.

Stopping for a while in the Parade, the trees were aglow in autumn colours.

I have worked through this weekend, and had no walk on the beach. But autumn in Kilkenny lifted my spirits today. And once again, I realised that while I may have sarcoidosis, sarcoidosis does not have me.

The four of us were back in Dublin by 6.15 this evening.

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