Kilkenny is small but beautifully formed, and manages to pack in all that any tourist to Ireland could possibly want. It has a castle, shops, restaurants, lots of traditional pubs (sixty at last count) and plenty of places to stay. It is also located in the ‘sunny’ south east of Ireland, just 75 miles from Dublin, so it’s easy to get there too. No wonder Kilkenny is so popular – coaches line the Parade all year long.
The city has a medieval past as illustrated in the majestic cathedral, St Cannice’s, which is the second largest medieval cathedral in the country. Great views of Kilkenny can be gotten from its RoundTowers. The ancient city status of Kilkenny dates back to 1609 due to a royal charter, and the townspeople – sorry - city residents do not take kindly to anyone calling it a ‘town’. Kilkenny Castle and the cathedral sit at opposite ends of the Parade, which has the highest concentration of medieval churches in the country.
Kilkenny is famous for its hurling – not that type of hurling – but the sport played with a wooden stick. Nowlan Park Stadium hosts the Kilkenny Cats’ games –the best hurlers in the country.
KILKENNY’S TOP 10
10. Kilkenny Design Centre is housed in the former castle stables and sells jewellery and Celtic gifts galore.
5. St John’s Priory is an absolute ruin. Founded in 1200 and trashed by Cromwell.
9. St Francis Abbey Brewery is Ireland’s oldest brewery, founded way back in 1221.
4. The Watergate Theatre has long intermissions to allow time for a quick pint in next door’s pub.
8. 300 year old Tyan’s Bridge House apparently only looks as though it might fall down any minute. Worth braving it because it’s the best traditional pub in Kilkenny.
3. Kilkenny Castle Parkland is 20 hectares of green space to the southeast of Kilkenny castle. Head for the rose garden or play area, or both.
7. Rothe House on Parliament Street is a 16th Century merchant’s house fronting Kilkenny’s History Museum.
2. St Mary’s Cathedral (told you there were a lot of churches) was started in 1843.
6. Killkenny College boasts some impressive alumni including Jonathan Swift and George Berkely.
1. The Black Abbey was founded in 1225. Henry VIII who didn’t like monasteries (only what was inside them) destroyed most of it.
The Kilkenny Music Festival takes place in January/February at the Watergate Theatre. Live music, acts and activities abound.
St Patrick’s Day, March 17th takes place wherever there are Irish people, and Kilkenny is no exception. Don’t expect to get to bed early.
Cat Laughs Comedy Festival in early June is a feast of comedy as well as football events. The fun takes place over five days with around 50 comedians trying their best to amuse.
The Kilkenny Arts Festival is one not to miss during August. It’s been running for nearly 40 years, and brings 10 days of artistic entertainment to the city.
Savour Kilkenny is another one to put in the diary. The October Bank Holiday weekend sees Ireland’s biggest celebration of Irish food, against the backdrop of Kilkenny castle.
International Gospel Choir Festival Kilkenny takes place in May in the city centre and comes highly recommended.
The ‘Town of Books’ Festival is one for you bookworms. Whether you are after a first edition or a signed copy, turn up at the Cistertian Abbey in September.
Kilkenny Celtic Festival Irish dancing, music, theatre and language in September through to October each year.
Kilkenny Racing Festival The Irish sure love the ‘gee gees’, and this National Hunt two day event takes place at the beginning of October. A real treat for lovers of equestrian pursuits.
The Irish Conker Championships Conkers should need no introduction for those of you born before this noble game was banned from schools on the basis of health and safety. Here’s your chance to watch it played the way it should be.
WHEN TO GO
· Kilkenny lies in the heart of what is known as the ‘Sunny South East’, an Irish area renowned for its extremes of temperature.
· The highest ever recorded temperature was 33.3 °C Summer averages are more likely to be around 23 °C however; with winter temperatures not much lower than 8 °C. Zero temps are by no means unheard of, with snow at times.
· Rainy weather is ever present, with 2009 being the wettest on record. However having a sheltered location means Kilkenny at least doesn’t suffer the driving winds that many other locations in Ireland endure.
· Driving to Kilkenny from Dublin is straightforward – the M7, then the M9 then the N10 for the last ten miles into Kilkenny. Bus Eireann runs a service from Dublin which terminates at John St, next to the train station.
· Five trains a day leave Kilkenny for Dublin, a journey which takes one and three quarter hours and costs 22 Euros (currently). Trains also connect to Waterford.
· Kilkenny does have an airfield but those of you wishing to come by plane will have to fly yourself. The only other option is to fly to Dublin or Waterford International airports which are connected to Kilkenny via public transport.
With a surfeit of intact medieval landmarks to explore, the city of Kilkenny, Ireland, is a marvelous tourist destination. With less than 30,000 people however, Kilkenny is more a county town than a city per se and as such, has a lot of charm. Set within a wide valley on the shore of the River Nore in southeast Ireland, the town has one of the most beautiful natural environs in the country.
Grand Kilkenny Castle is the predominant point of interest visitors flock to first. The indelible symbol of Kilkenny was built in the late 12th century and remains one of the best examples of medieval architecture in all of Ireland. Another such masterpiece is St. Canice's Cathedral, also known as Kilkenny Cathedral. Built on the site of a 6th century church, the present-day landmark dates back to the 13th century. Other points of interest in historic Kilkenny include St. Mary's Cathedral, Rothe House and the Watergate Theatre.
- Kilkenny Castle
- St. Canice's Cathedral
- St. Mary's Cathedral
- Rothe House
- Kells Priory
- Kilkenny Arts Festival
- Cat Laughs Comedy Festival
- The Source at Nolan Park
- Rhythm & Roots Festival
- Watergate Theatre
- Edward Langton's
- Marble City Bar
- Anna Conda
- Kieran Bollard
- Parade Bar
- The Black Abbot
Kilkenny has a maritime climate, with mild weather throughout the year.
- Winter (December to February) 1-8°C
- Spring (March to May) 2-15°C
- Summer (June to September) 8-20°C
- Fall (October to November) 3-14°C
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