Coming back to Kilkenny, the place where it all began was always going to be on the cards. Last year, the very first Trails of Ireland trip was to the home of JJ Kavanagh & Sons and as the first trip, there was always going to be a few teething issues here and there. So this time I’m back to explore Kilkenny in a way I couldn’t previously!
The day started off early as all our trips do! Catching the 6:45 bus isn’t always easy but my bus driver remembered me by name from the last time I was in Kilkenny over a year ago and that definitely put a smile on my face!
Kilkenny Design Centre
Arriving in Kilkenny, I popped straight down to Kilkenny Design Centre for breakfast where I met Deirdre who gave me a quick tour of the quaint cafe and the shop downstairs. She then took me 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 and I love how so many of the original fittings are still just as they were.
The wheel shaped Windows look aged in a beautiful way and offer gorgeous views of the National Craft Gallery behind. The large windows on the far side offer glimpses of the majestic Kilkenny Castle also. A chocolate croissant and a hot chocolate later (along with some fantastic service) and I was off to my next destination!
Why Visit?: Freshly baked goods and carefully curated merchandise in an award winning setting. Also, with your JJ Kavanagh & Sons bus ticket you can avail of the 10% off shop goods.
Rothe House & Gardens
I popped down to Rothe house next, which is barely a five minute walk up the Main Street. Rothe House 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.
Why Visit?: See many of the items that were donated by the public both inside and outside in the gardens. Also worth a visit for the ceiling in ‘Lanigan’s Room’!
The Kilkenny Way Tour
I really wasn’t expecting the experience on the next stop but it was entirely worth it! 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. I got a quick introduction into 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. A couple of hours later, I was absolutely shattered but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and talked about hurling all the way back to Lanigan’s! When you get back, you have the option of a large bowl of stew to wake you right up!
Why Visit?: If you’ve seen hurling on the TV, then you know it is a sport where you need a medley of skills, but until you try it out in this environment, you don’t realise just how taxing it is! Also with your JJ Kavanagh & Sons bus ticket you can save €5 on your Kilkenny Way ticket.
Next stop was Kytelers Inn! Kytelers Inn is a warm bar and restaurant with a very friendly atmosphere; by the time I left, I knew the name of the duty manager and two of the waiting team! Diarmad, Eimear and Harry made me feel so at home in a place that was already so homely and I enjoyed a delicious vol-au-vent which the inn is renowned for! Needless to say, it was 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!
Why Visit?: Enjoy easily the best vol-au-vent you will ever have (probably) in a somewhat medieval atmosphere.
‘Not Too Precious’ Exhibit
A quick jaunt across town, taking some photographs of the colourful Kilkenny town along the way, I came back to the Kilkenny Design Centre, where a brilliant exhibition;‘not too precious’ takes place this year until the 30th of March in the National Craft Gallery. The exhibition centres around items created by artists from all around the world using materials that are not traditionally considered precious however the pieces created (using materials such as recycled paper, egg shells and lime wood) are absolutely stunning. The gallery itself is stunning in all white and the colourful pieces are displayed in clear plexiglass which really adds to the aesthetic.
Why Visit?: This is something different for art lovers and a must visit if you make it here before the exhibition is over.
I took a good walk around the town to take in the beautiful scenery. Kilkenny is a beautiful town when you have a look around; the buildings are absolutely gorgeous and come in every colour imaginable; it is sometimes like being in a story book. As it got darker, I popped back to Lanigan’s bar where the Kilkenny Ghost Tours kick off! The tours require you to put on a witches hat and cape as you get into character and make your way through many of Kilkenny’s beautiful lane ways. There are numerous ghost stories known by the residents of Kilkenny city and the tour has compiled the best of them to be told over an hour or so as you walk through the streets where real events became myths and tales…
Why Visit?: For a different take on the history of Kilkenny and Ireland this is a must! Also with your JJ Kavanagh & Sons bus ticket you can save €2 on your Ghost Tour ticket.
I thoroughly enjoyed the first day in Kilkenny; while the skies were grey, the buildings smiled with colour as did the people in the places I visited! Look out for day two right here!
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