Saturday, July 10, 2010

Some Kilkenny cats, plus a cat and a cow from the James Joyce Centre in Dublin

So what's a blog without cat pictures?

Besides, I'm beginning to realize I'm never going to get back to blogging our trip to Ireland last m ..., uh let's make that month before last. So I'd better start piecemealing them into the blog one by one.

Starting with the Kilkenny cats ... which, both the proverbial fighting cats and the hurling and Gaelic football teams fielded by the Kilkenny County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association ... the Kilkenny GAA (logo at right) for short ... As Americans it was patiently explained to us that: (1) hurling is not about throwing up, unless perhaps if your team loses, but an ancient Irish sport that sounds like a cross between soccer and Cherokee Indian stickball; and (2) Gaelic football is more like rugby than American football. Hurling is considered the dominant sport in Kilkenny.

At any rate, Kilkenny's athletic cats are named for the proverbial cats, and our tour guide Jonathan told us the stories of the fighting cats. The parts about Lord Cromwell's army and German mercenaries in the English army of King George III are probably apocrophal, but the story is a point of pride in Kilkenny. And the athletic teams pattern their colors, black and amber, after those of what we'd call an orange tomcat in the United States. We even spotted a black-and-amber bar (two doors down from an oriental restaurant) on Parliament Street in Kilkenny.

We found another cat in Kilkenny, this one on the sign for Kyteler's Inn, a pub on that dates back to the 14th century. At least the stories do. Its website relates:
The original owner of this Inn was Dame Alice le Kyteler who was born in Kilkenny in the year 1263. In her time she gained much notoriety not least because she acquired four husbands and a considerable fortune. Her enemies eventually conspired to accuse her of witchcraft and have her burned at the stake. It is now generally accepted that the charges against Dame Alice and her associates were trumped up but what is on record as been certainly true is that Kyteler's Inn was "a place of merrymaking and good cheer".
Across the top of the website is a fine representation of what must be Dame Alice's black cat.

And there's another black cat on the pub sign at 27 Saint Kierans St. Here, for all the cat lovers , is a closeup.

My other Irish cat picture is from a mural in a little cafe in the James Joyce Centre at 35 North Great Georges St. in Dublin. It wasn't serving when we visited, on a midweek morning before the tourist season really gets going, but the mural was quite nice - sort of a montage of scenes from "Ulysses."

There's not only a cat, there's also a cow. At first I thought of Cows on Parade in Chicago, but a placard explained it the idea came from a public art installation project in Zurich, which is also where Chicago got its inspiration.

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