I decided last night to stay in Limerick for the weekend. We can't do any house hunting until Monday anyway, and I really didn't fancy a five hour drive to Leitrim, so despite knowing Limerick by it's more common name, 'stab city,' I made a reservation at Patrick Punch's Hotel, just outside the town centre. Well, why not!
We arrived in Limerick around 1430, and when I realised how close it is to Bunratty, I simply had to make a detour to see Bunratty Castle.
Bunratty Castle rises from the verdant county Clare countryside as imposing as any keep I've seen, tall and light-bricked and perfectly square, crisp corners stretching to blocked towers on all four sides. Very impressive. The castle also puts on medieval banquets, one of which was scheduled for 1730, so I bought tickets. Touring the castle just after 1500 we could smell dinner cooking, so we walked around with rumbling tummies and watering mouths until 1715, when it was time to show up at the drawbridge. Those of you who know me will be shocked to know I wasn't late, no siree! The whole thing kicked off with a reception in the grand hall replete with Bunratty honey mead, and after finishing my cup I was really looking forward to having some more at dinner. In the centre of the grand hall was a harpist, a really exceptional harpist, and I was mesmerised by the gentle, quick movements of her fingers on the strings, the rapid adjustments she made to the tuning pins between string plucks, and the perfectly serene look on her face as she played. I was also fascinated by the playing position of the harp - she pulled it between her legs and rested it against her breast and I couldn't help but see it as both instrument and lover. It sang to her and through her.
So I was all caught up in the harpist when the violinist appeared, a mop of dark hair, broad smile and shoulders, and tantalisingly muscular thighs wrapped in 80-denier or so black tights. For the next 20 minutes I don't think I moved. The music continued through all four removes of the banquet, where to my disappointment the mead on offer at the reception was replaced by white and red wine, but I was fairly delighted to find the violinist playing at the head of the table at which Caoilte and I were sat. When the banquet was over we left through the gift shop, where we bought a couple of bottles of mead and a CD of the evening's music. I listened to it all the way to the hotel.
Well, mostly just to the violin.