As we move into Spring, now is the time to explore Kilkenny, a fantastic bustling city and a rich and varied countryside in the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East.
The beautiful medieval city is located on the River Nore in the southeast of Ireland and has plenty to see and do. Whether it’s the lively nightlife, medieval heritage, cultural attractions, outdoor activities, the arts and crafts scene, shopping, festivals or just a break away, Kilkenny town and county has it all.
Currently the Irish Foodie Destination of the year, Kilkenny is famed for its food and hospitality offering. With local producers, food festivals, farmers’ markets, trails, cookery schools, gastro pubs and Michelin star dining experiences, the county receives well deserved regular critical acclaim.
With its rich and fascinating brewing history, lovers of Irish ale can take a tour of Smithwick’s Brewery which began in 1710 in the heart of the city. If you want to experience the true authenticity of an Irish pub, head out of the city to any surrounding town and village for a local beer, gin or whiskey. A céad míle fáilte is guaranteed anywhere you go, and locals will only be too happy to give you some travel tips.
There is rarely a quiet month with Kilkenny being the home of festivals. These include Savour food festival, Kilkenny Arts Festival, Kilkenny Tradfest, Kilkenny Roots Festival, Cat Laughs Festival, Kilkenomics and Kilkenny Animated, all of which are known internationally.
One of the oldest medieval cities in Ireland, Kilkenny is the ideal place to discover medieval architecture first hand. Ireland’s Medieval Mile in the city stretches from two of the most iconic buildings – the 12th century Kilkenny Castle and the 13th century St Canice’s Cathedral – with historic landmarks like Rothe House in between.
The Medieval Mile Museum offers an interactive tour into ancient Ireland. Medieval Kilkenny can also be explored by visiting sites such as national monument Jerpoint Abbey.
A great way to explore Kilkenny is with Ireland’s Medieval Mile Pass. At just €39 it includes admission to many of Kilkenny’s top tourist attractions including Kilkenny Castle and Rothe House and Garden, and discounts in various cafes and restaurants. It is available throughout hotels in the city and online at kilkennychamber.ie.
Kilkenny is famous for its crafts with many international professionals attracted by the Kilkenny Design Workshops, creating a rich legacy for generations. Kilkenny is now home to the Design and Craft Council of Ireland and the National Design and Craft Gallery. There are many craft studio’s in the county too with Jerpoint Glass in Thomastown, and Nicholas Mosse in Bennetsbridge.
The city is easily discovered by foot as one can take in the uniqueness of Kilkenny’s medieval cobbled streets and landmarks. Meanwhile, its countryside has many walking trails and river and woodland walks which are a great way to experience the county’s scenic views. There are many villages such as Inistioge which have been the setting for major films including The Secret Scripture, Widows’ Peak and Circle of Friends.
Cycling tours are popular in Kilkenny too. With the city easily linked to many of the townlands, Kilkenny Cycling Tours provide plenty of regular guided tours or solo excursions.
Kilkenny is the hurling capital of Ireland. While in the city get involved in the Kilkenny Way Ultimate Hurling Experience. This tourist attraction provides an exciting insight into the Ancient Celtic game which is over 3000 years old. Meanwhile in Stoneyford, drop by Fred Malzards, a location offering the traditional Irish pub experience along with lessons on how to hurl.
Horse racing is a staple feature in Irish culture. Kilkenny has a picturesque premier racing track located just 15 minutes from the city in Gowran Park in the Annaly Estate. Gowran Park hosts 17 race meetings throughout the year.
For golfers, Gowran Park also has an 18-hole golf course that meanders in and around the 130-acre Annaly Estate. The nearby Mount Juliet has the prestigious Jack Nicklaus designed golf course.
Kilkenny has lots for children to enjoy too. There are many family friendly activities such as Castlecomer Discovery Park. Comprising of 80 acres of stunning natural woodland and lakes, the venue features playgrounds, a tree-top walk, archery, canoeing, as well as the longest zipline in Ireland. Also, tourists can check out the world’s rarest animals in The National Reptile Zoo.
Getting there is easy, leaving not so much……
So easy to get to, Kilkenny is centrally located from all of the main Irish Airports. Visitors can rent a car and explore the country side as they make their way towards a truly authentic Irish holiday experience in the heart of the Emerald Isle or avail of the many regular rail and bus routes. Check out www.visitkilkenny.ie for the best travel options.