So you thought Woodstock was the site of a famous festival!! Well, here in the quiet beauty of Co. Kilkenny we have our own Woodstock, but this one is a stunning estate with a derelict grand old manor house, arboretum, and gardens.
The original house, which is currently derelict, was designed by Francis Bindon and was built in the mid 1700's.
Then is 1825 Colonel William Tighe married Lady Louisa Lennox and it was Lady Louisa who was hugely influential in the development of the gardens and the arboretum.
The house and gardens have now passed to the Irish Government and people and the grand mansion is currently being renovated. Personally I can't wait to see how it all works out.
It costs €4 for a car full of passengers to visit the estate for a day. This money goes towards the renovation costs. Given the wealth of beauty and peace to be found here it's an incredible way to spend €4.
As you drive through the village you will see a very lovely small park along the banks of the river. Little picnic tables and chairs have been placed there by the local authority for all to enjoy.
The place is so very pretty that it's hard to resist making the most of it. There's plenty of space for kids to play, but keep an eye on them as the banks of the river are unprotected here. The water is shallow and clean, but it's fast moving.
Pick a spot under a shady tree and, as there are lots of shops and restaurants around, you won't end up running short of essential picnic supplies.
Inistioge is one of the prettiest places in the country for freshwater fishing in the river Nore, which flows through the village. You can fish in the river right in the town centre while the family picnics on the grass under a tree beside you, or you can walk or drive a mile or three up the road for someplace marginally more peaceful. I say marginally so, as the entire village of Inistioge is a very peaceful place, no matter how crowded it is. It simply has that aura of complete relaxation about it.
As you can see from the pics attached, even the little kids fish here.
Before you drop your line, check whether or not you require a licence as some of the fishing areas are private.
I've noticed the purple coloured cafe every time I drove into Inistioge, but stopped to eat there today for the first time.
It's named after a famous book by the infamous Irish writer Maeve Binchy. Mny of you may know of it as the book was also made into a movie which was filmed around this village.
The cafe lives up to its name as the staff (owner run) are so friendly and cheerful, plus the place is so small that all the customers get into conversation with each other.
We ate here on a cold Winter's day, immediately following a spell of some of the coldest weather in Irish living memory. The weather played particular havoc with old buildings such a this one, freezing the pipes and cutting off the water supplies. It was probably a bad time to be there as the old building smelled terribly musty. That put me off a bit. This wasn't helped by the kittens for sale sign at the front door, which played tricks on my mind and convinced me that the smell was of cats, not damp.
The toilets are at the top of the house and you have to climb six flights of stairs to get to them.
Other than that the place is quite nice and the food is really good. Strawberry patterened oil cloths cover the wooden tables in typical country kitchen fashion. A large blackboard lists the menu of the day which varies from soup and sandwiches to corned beef and cabbage, fish and chips, and mouth watering desserts which are on display so you cannot resist them.
Favorite Dish: I started with the sweet home made parsnip soup. It was hot and steaming, which we needed on that icy day, and the sweetness came from honey as the owner/cook explained. I loved it. With it I ordered a toasted brie cheese, ham, and tomato relish sandwich. It was yummy. The brie was melting and oozing from my sandwich. The ham was home baked and thick, none of these see through deli meats here!
I could not resist a dessert as they were staring at me from a glass refrigerated cabinet beside me. I had the pavlova - softest meringue filled with cream and fresh fruit. Great, but very sweet. The portions of cakes and sweets are huge here, so one will be more than enough between two. The Lady of the house explained to me that she cooks everything freshly herself.
The bill was €26 for two soups, two sandwiches, two desserts, tea for two, and one freshly ground coffee.
The Woodstock Arms, named after the incredible stately home and gardens just up the hill, is a great old fashioned pub in the centre of the village. It's one of the most popular, as the throngs sitting oon the wooden benches outside will verify.
Inside it's a real old spit-on-the-floor hostelry with friendly staff and fair prices. There's a small gaggle of locals stuck to the high stools at the bar, as in every elderly pub in the country.
It was a warm sunny day so we took our drinks outside. We weren't prepared, however, for the wasps that buzzed everywhere (especially over, above, and in our drinks). The barmaid quickly appeared with citronella candles, although they don't work too well in Ireland where there's always a breeze to blow them out.
Food here is mainly toasted sandwiches.
Take care when walking by the banks of the river in this exceptionally pretty village. Take particular care when letting your children play by the banks. They are unprotected and it would be so easy to fall into the fast flowing but shallow waters.
As you drive to Inistioge, or away from it, along any of the winding country roads on the Nore valley, fishermen will find many little gems of places to drop a line. Some of them are private but these bear signposts clearly marked with contact numbers. You will also find local fishermen very friendly and they'll be more than happy to help you.
The pics attached are of a very beautiful fishing spot about 3 miles from Inistioge on the Kilkenny/Inistoge road.
When driving along the route from Kilkenny to Inistioge you will drive past a sign that says "Castle View." As you pass, you'll see a stunning view of a derelict ivy clad castle in the valley, slam dangerously on your brakes, and reverse back up the road to the layby marked "Castle View." It will be on your right hand side and I really recommend that you stop, not drive on by.
There are picnic tables here if you fancy resting a while.
Take plenty of pics - the ones where the castle is framed by the trees are my favourite shots, but everyone will have his or her own favourite view.