Have Twitter, will travel
LAST WEDNESDAY, I headed off to Kilkenny. Before I left my house, I sent out this tweet: “Twitter alert! En route to #kilkennycity where I’m going to be guided by your recommendations today. What should I see and do? Pls RT.”
The idea was that I was going to be a Twitter tourist for the day, seeking out the places that people who knew Kilkenny well would recommend. If anyone actually responded, that is. I had no idea what people might be recommending, but I did hope that I’d get more suggestions than the predictable and obvious, such as visiting Kilkenny Castle, magnificent as it is. I was hoping for a bit of direction on culture, shopping, eating and nuggets of local colour.
By the time I looked at my phone again, when walking down High Street a couple of hours later, I had 34 responses with suggestions of where to go. Phew. I was in Twitter tourist business.
The first task of the day was strong coffee and somewhere to sit down to read through the tweets. I needed a café. There were plenty of recommendations, and I didn’t recognise a single name. I realised then that no matter how well you think you know a place – I thought I knew Kilkenny reasonably well from previous visits – businesses open and close all the time between your visits. It’s only the locals who are truly up to date.
Two café names in particular came up again and again, @Mugshotcafe and Slice of Heaven, which @VibrantIreland and others raved about. There are only two tables in Slice of Heaven. I colonised one of them smartish, while noting with the hooded eyes of America’s most famous avian symbol that the one daily newspaper put out for customers was a rival. The coffee was great, and the choices on the glass shelves were beautiful examples of instant artery-hardening. Would it be chocolate and raspberry roulade, or homemade meringue with passionfruit and Irish strawberries? Lemon curd cakes, truffles, oreo cupcakes? Roulade it was.
Before I left, I chatted with Margaret Keever, behind the counter. “Ah no, we never get The Irish Times,” she confirmed cheerfully when I identified myself. The following day, I had a tweet from one of the café’s owners, @neilmcevoychef, that declared “complaint dealt with!”, and with a picture of Margaret laughingly holding up that day’s Irish Times. Well done, Slice of Heaven. And you better keep stocking it now, or the Twitter spies will let us know.
The 90 plus tweets I got with suggestions on the day fell into three surprisingly consistent categories: culture, shops and eating out.
Two people, @Maria_Aylward and this newspaper’s @emmetmalone, also suggested I attend to Kilkenny’s sporting history. Maria said: “See if you can catch a Kilkenny hurling training session in Nowlan park this evening.” I didn’t, but if, unlike me, you are interested in sport, you can do this instead.