Heritage and Culture

H e r i t a g e  a n d  C u l t u r e  S e e k e r

Kilkenny CastleStart your morning with a leisurely breakfast, followed by a visit to the 12th Century Kilkenny Castle, overlooking the River Nore. Explore the two wings of the castle which were restored to their 19th Century splendour, including a library, drawing room and the noted Long Gallery.  While at the castle, soak up a little culture with a visit to The Butler Art Gallery, with its frequently changing exhibitions of contemporary art.

A quick hop across the street takes you into The Castle Yard, under the archway of Kilkenny Design Design. The yard, once home to Ireland’s first International Design School in the 1960s (Kilkenny Design Workshops- KDW) is still home to an array of craft workshops and The National Craft Gallery. Exhibitions at the gallery feature Irish and international designers, artists and makers across a variety of craft disciplines.

Explore the hidden oasis that is Butler House Garden, accessed though a small gate at the rear of the Castle Yard. Butler House, once a dower house to Kilkenny Castle and home to the Earls of Ormonde, has been reinstated as a fine example of Georgian interiors and now operates as a guesthouse, while the walled garden is free to all visitors to Kilkenny to enjoy. Before leaving the Castle yard, why not enjoy some morning refreshment at The Food Hall of Kilkenny Design, featuring fair-trade coffee and great local artisan foods and on site home baking.

From here, stroll down the street known as ‘The Parade’ to Rose Inn St where you can visit Shee Alms House, founded in 1582 “to accommodate twelve poor persons” by Sir Richard Shee. It now stands as the Kilkenny Tourist Information Office. At the tourist office you can join Kilkenny Walking Tours, who have been guiding visitors around the Medieval City for almost 30 years. The experienced guides will talk you through Kilkenny’s unique history as you ramble through its compact and winding laneways providing answers to such questions as… which Kilkenny Mayor fathered 25 children?… In which Kilkenny church did Cromwell sleep in 1650? Who is Dame Alice Kyteler? …And many more. which Kilkenny church did Cromwell sleep in 1650? Who is Dame Alice Kyteler? …And many more.

After lunch at one of our many restaurants, bars and café in any one of the City’s picturesque streets or having enjoyed a picnic lunch by the River Nore, stroll onto Parliament Street, where you will see the magnificent 17th century Irish merchant’s townhouse that is Rothe House & Garden. Built in 1594 by John Rothe, this 17th century merchant’s townhouse consists of three houses with courtyards. A collection of artefacts and costumes from Kilkenny’s past are displayed and interpreted here in its museum, while the garden is a reconstruction of a 17th century walled garden, with authentic planting schemes. The site also houses a local history library, a family history/genealogy service as well as a gift shop, book store and a café (opening 2013).

Just across the street from Rothe House, you will find St Francis Abbey Brewery, where over 300 years ago in 1710, John Smithwick began brewing his first ales, although the Smithwick’s story started long before then. Having chosen the site of the ancient monastery of St Francis in Kilkenny City to position his brewery, he took inspiration from a tradition of brewing on this site. The foundations of this were laid four centuries earlier by the Franciscan monks using water from St Francis’ well on the site to brew their own light ale for their visitors St. Cancise's Cathedral

After a Brewery tour and tasting, follow Parliament Street into Irishtown, where it joins Dean Street. From here, climb the steps to the site of St Canice’s Cathedral & Round Tower – one of the most prominent sights in this splendid medieval city. Many believe the construction of the massive Gothic cathedral began in the 1250s with it being completed in 1285, but the religious roots of the site extend back to the 6th century, when the wooden century, when the wooden Church of St Canice stood. St Canice’s Round Tower, thought to have been built in the 9th century, is the oldest standing structure in modern day Kilkenny City. It is also one of only two round towers in all of Ireland that visitors are allowed to climb, weather permitting. From the top of the 30m tower (Kilkenny’s answer to ‘The London Eye’ and skyscrapers of New York), visitors can take in wonderful views of the city and surrounding countryside. On a fine day you can see all five counties of the South East

Relax in the evening with a stroll along the river’s Canal Walk before enjoying some great food in our City’s many pubs, restaurants and hotels many of which are dedicated to serving great local foods. Finish the day with a visit to one of our theatres, try your hand at learning to play the bodhran or enjoy some live traditional or contemporary music along our Kilkenny Culture Trail To check out ‘What’s On in Kilkenny” Click Here.

Enjoy a day in the countryside

Dip into Jerpoint Abbeythe MADE in Kilkenny Craft Trail, at the beautifully restored flour mill in Bennettsbridge,  now home to Nicholas Mosse’s pottery studios. Using Irish clay, the earthenware is fired with home grown Irish waterpower and decorated with traditional motifs inspired by old Irish spongeware. Browse among a huge selection of Nicholas Mosse pottery, linen and glass over 3 floors, while seeing the potter and his team at work before enjoying a spot of lunch at the café or taking a picnic by the river the river . Your next stop is a visit to Moth to a Flame candle makers workshop (also located in the village), where your senses will be flooded by the array of colours and aromas from these distinctive hand-made candles.

Nearby, Nore View Folk and Heritage Museum is also worthy of a stop, as it houses over 10,000 items of Irish historical interest some dating back to 2000 BC. Continuing south along R700/R448 through the Nore Valley, stop off at the 12th Century Jerpoint Abbey in Thomastown, where you can visit the Romanesque church and see tombs from the 13th to 16th centuries. This site offers a unique glimpse into the life of the Cistercian monks who once inhabited the abbey.  From here continue to Jerpoint Park (L4206) , to uncover the secret of the ‘ the ‘Lost Town of Newtown Jerpoint’, and enjoy the sight of Joe’s sheepdog herding the geese. Take a trip down a childhood memory lane with a pony and trap ride, try your hand at fishing or simply enjoy a relaxing walk on the River Nore followed by afternoon tea in the beautiful Belmore House Tearooms  As the day draws to a close, have a wander over the road and take in a stop to Goatsbridge Trout Farm or for the cheese lover include a stop to Knockdrinna Farmhouse Cheese in nearby Stoneyford, to sample some of the finest foods on our TASTE of Kilkenny Food Trail


Explore some more…..

If time allows on your visit to Kilkenny why not explore some more of the South East region’s iconic attractions; here are some of our suggestions…



Waterford Crystal The factory tour gives an up-close and personal insight into the centuries old tradition of Waterford Crystal making.

Medieval Museum Go back in time to the 13th century when you enter this beautiful new museum which will lead you through the centuries into the medieval world.



Dunbrody Famine Ship and Irish Emigration Experience An exact replica of the 19th century famine ship, incorporating guided tours by costumed performers and themed exhibitions, it provides an entertaining and educational insight into the bravery and fortitude of Irish emigrants.

· Irish National Heritage Park  9,000 years of history on 35 acres of this remarkable heritage trail, including Crannógs and outdoor living opportunities for the brave at heart!


The Butler Trail Tales of romance, intrigue, frolics and fun await you along the Butler Trail. Featuring Kings and Queens, Dukes and Earls, the Butlers’ stories will leave you wanting more

Rock of Cashel A spectacular group of medieval buildings set on an outcrop of limestone in the Golden Vale including the 12th century Round Tower.


Visual Centre for Contemporary Art The South East’s award winning contemporary Art Centre, presents the work of a balanced mixture of local, national and international artists.

Altamont Gardens Considered to be Irelands most romantic gardens, these charming and colourful gardens with their waterlillies on the lake and grand oak trees are an oasis of calm and grand oak trees are an oasis of calm and tranquillity.






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