26 Aug Kilkenny
Welcome to Kilkenny
Kilkenny is Ireland’s quaint medieval city, only 90 minutes from Dublin. Its characteristic black limestone narrow streets, lively pubs, live music, and festivals make you want to embrace the Irish lifestyle. The locals are so friendly, and it won’t take long before you have a pint of Kilkenny (Irish ale) with them!
One of the city’s main sights is its imposing castle above the River Nore, steeped in history, St. Canice’s Cathedral and the Black Abbey Dominican priory, both from the 13th century. Kilkenny is also home to Ireland’s best places to eat, drink and shop.
The River Nore, 140km long, flows through Tipperary, Laois, Kilkenny and Waterford and is part of the ‘Three Sister Rivers’, including The Barrow and the Suir. Here you can enjoy a riverbank walk, go fishing or visit the ruins of 13th-century Grennan Castle.
One of the city’s main sights is its imposing castle above the River Nore. Kilkenny Castle, steeped in history, is a site worth seeing. It was originally a Norman castle that dated back to the 13th century and later became the Butler family’s residence for over 600 years.
Over the years, the castle has changed architectural styles since the 20th century, eventually restored and then opened to the public as a living museum and art exhibit popular with tourists today. You can explore Kilkenny Castle Park on your own or a guided tour. Book here.
Exploring Kilkenny is best starting along the Medieval Mile, a historic discovery trail from Castle to Cathedral of a 1500-year legacy of this old capital of Ireland.
Start at the Kilkenny Inn, towards the 13th-Century St Canice’s Cathedral and be inspired by historic buildings, cobblestone streets and hidden slipways. Along the way, there are many eateries, hotels and B&Bs.
Medieval Mile Museum
The recently opened Medieval Mile Museum in Kilkenny city offers guided and self-guided tours throughout the year. The museum features some of Kilkenny’s most delicate stone art, from Neolithic Ireland to the medieval era and beyond. While here, you can read through some of Kilkenny’s unique historical records dating back as far as the 1200s and get a glimpse into daily life in Kilkenny city during that time. Tours run daily at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. & 3 p.m., or explore the city’s cobblestone streets on foot on our Medieval Mile Trail, which runs every day at 11 a.m. Book tours here.
St Mary’s Cathedral
Suppose you’re on a walking tour in the heart of the medieval city; you will no doubt come across St Mary’s Cathedral, similar to the other three city parishes and known as the birthplace of Catholicism in Australia. This cathedral is the smallest of the four city parishes with a Gothic design. The cathedral’s tower dominating the landscape of Kilkenny has become a landmark of the city.
St Canice's Cathedral
The historic heart of worship in Kilkenny for over 800 years is the St. Canice Cathedral, distinguished by its Round Tower. St Canice’s is a living, working Cathedral, and it has also been the location for various film and television productions over the years.
The round tower, approximately 1000 years old, stands firm, and you can climb up the 30m-high tower via a narrow staircase to enjoy fantastic views from the top.
The Black Abbey is one of the oldest churches in Kilkenny, situated outside the walls of Kilkenny City, and is home to a group of Dominican friars founded in the 1220s. The abbey was eventually restored and opened to the public as a place of worship in the 1800s. Its interior is stunning with its stained glass windows, stunning ceilings, beautiful stonework and impressive archways. It is also free to enter, but be respectful if a service happens.
A hidden gem to explore is a 17th-century wealthy merchant’s townhouse, Rothe House, steeped in history. As the centre for Irish genealogy in Kilkenny, you can research your Kilkenny family history and browse over 2,500 historical artefacts. In 2008, a 17th-century urban garden was opened, quickly becoming a hugely popular garden in Ireland.
John Smithwick, who moved to Kilkenny in the early 1700s, went into the brewing business with Richard Cole. Together they have been brewing Ale in Ireland since 1710. Today, Smithwick’s is still brewed to the highest standards and continues to be enjoyed worldwide. Book tickets here.
How To Get to Kilkenny
Where To Stay
Kilkenny offers many options of accommodation depending on where you want to stay. If you like the ease of being centrally located in Kilkenny, then opt to stay in the town centre. Here you will find a few hotels, including bed and breakfasts. The centre is conveniently located next to the best pubs and top sights along the River Vartry, and best of all it’s easy to walk around without relying on public transport.
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