Kilkenny: The Perfect Weekend Break
One of the liveliest spots in the country, the ‘Marble City’ offers thriving nightlife (with myriad pubs and loads of live music); a fantastic festival scene, from The Cat Laughs to Kilkenny Arts to Savour Kilkenny (to name but a few); and a wide array of delights for foodies, craft and design lovers, the culturally curious, and history buffs. It’s also within easy reach of most parts of the country – ideal for a getaway – and each time you visit, there’s something new to uncover in this medieval city.
Exploring Kilkenny City
Spend you’re time discovering all that this Medieval city has to offer…
1. Kilkenny Medieval Mile
The Medieval Mile links Kilkenny Castle (the Anglo-Norman castle at the centre of the city) to St Canice’s Cathedral. Along the way, housed in St Mary’s Cathedral you’ll find the Medieval Mile Museum – Kilkenny’s newest attraction, it’s a ‘must see’. Take the guided tour and find out why Kilkenny is a city – not a town! – and gain insight into the area with the other tales the museum has to tell.
One of our favourite places is visit is Rothe House which is barely a five-minute walk up the Main Street. It is a beautifully restored merchant house that was built in the late 16th to early 17th century and it still retains many of its original fittings. Very quickly you find out that Rothe House is more than just a house; it is three houses and an expansive garden that I didn’t expect to stumble upon.
The self-guided tour of the house takes you through the history of the house, from the man who built it to his twelve children and their children. There is much to see here and it is all delightfully laid out in telling its own unique piece of history.
2. The Kilkenny Tour
The Kilkenny Way kicks off in Lanigan’s bar, which is a great bar frequented by many locals in the area and has hurling in its every brick and floorboard. There are murals inside depicting legendary figures from Kilkenny’s hurling history and even the Irish myths on which hurling was born. You will get an introduction to the history of the sport from Kevin and what the rules are and then it was a walk across the town to O’Loughlin Gaels GAA Club to learn some GAA skills! How to pick up the sliotar (the ball), how to hand pass and how to hit the ball over the uprights. When you get back, you have the option of a large bowl of stew to wake you right up!
3. The Smithwick’s Experience
The Smithwick’s Experience starts from when you’re walking through the cobbled tunnel that leads you right up to the fabled gates of the brewery that has stood since 1710 as it really gets you in the mindset!
My tour was held by a lovely guy called Colm whose family has worked at the brewery for the last three generations; he took us through a very interactive tour that brings you through narrow doors, winding up staircases and through antique machinery. Apart from the tasting at the end of the tour, the highlight of the tour is the ‘Hogwarts painting room’ where generations of Smithwicks tell the story of the brewery from their point of view. It was a little unsettling at first but it is a nice touch and really added to the experience.
4. Kilkenny Castle
Kilkenny Castle overlooking the river Nore is the centerpiece of the medieval city of Kilkenny and sits proudly as it has done since the early 1200s. As you walk up the slope to the castle, its majestic frame seems to rise up out of nowhere before offering itself to you. The castle is a massive tourist destination but it was lovely to see so many families from Kilkenny out and about on the expansive castle grounds enjoying lunch and walking around with their dogs in tow. There is a tour in the castle which takes you through the many rooms and floors of the castle and a multimedia room that really puts you in the history of the castle from the arrival of Strongbow, to the Butlers selling the castle to the people of Kilkenny for what seems to have been a symbolic £50. The gardens and park are free and open to the public and are a must if you are visiting Kilkenny. The walk along the river beside the castle was absolutely gorgeous and are worth doing on a sunny day or a clear night!
The Best Places To Eat In Kilkenny
Experience even more of the city’s charms, revealed as the sun sets…
1. Paris Texas
Are you feeling pure comfort food, in need of a scrumptious hangover cure from a wild night spent in Kilkenny or want to experience a truly Texan experience? You’ve come to the right place… Loaded American size portions are served up here. Naughty, naughty edible yum is the definition of what they have to offer!
2. Kilkenny Design Centre
Arriving in Kilkenny by bus you should pop straight down to Kilkenny Design Centre for breakfast where they have a quaint cafe and the shop downstairs or head upstairs to the restaurant which is just stunning. The restaurant is housed in what used to be the stable house back when we travelled on horse and in carriage!
3. Kytelers Inn
Kytelers Inn is a warm bar and restaurant with a very friendly atmosphere; by the time you leave, you will know the name of the duty manager and two of the waiting team! All the staff will make you feel so at home in a place that is already so homely. We’d recommend getting their delicious vol-au-vent which the inn is renowned for! Needless to say, it is absolutely gorgeous! The atmosphere in the inn can range between sedate and raucous depending on the time of day and it is definitely a place to visit if you like trad music or are on a civilised stag do!
4. The Dylan Irish Whiskey Bar Experience
You must experience a truly Irish Whiskey mat. From three corners of the Emerald Isle, taste Ireland through its most famed alcoholic beverage for just €25. With Chris Hennessy, head mixologist and all round Whiskey-tech or ‘liquid chef’! Try meet with Chris who is like an open book on Whiskey and drink in general, his passion is infectious and his rapport is both friendly and welcoming.