Kilkenny is a city in the 'Sunny South East' of Ireland, 50 km north of Waterford and 120 km southwest of Dublin. Ireland's mediaeval capital, it offers the traveller the mixture of a rich cultural heritage, beautiful streetscapes, an exciting vibrant nightlife and great shopping opportunities. The River Nore flows through the city, splitting it in two, with most sights of interest on the western side of the river.
Kilkenny (Irish: Cill Chainnigh) is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ireland, and is a weekend getaway for many Irish. The city is popular, and well regarded for its vibrant nightlife. The city is famous for its many mediaeval buildings and is referred to as the Marble City after the black polished limestone ['marble'] that was quarried around the city. The concept of a "Medieval Mile" has been instigated which endeavours to take in the majority of the city's iconic sights bookended by the Castle and St Canice's Cathedral respectively. Along the route, plaques have been put in place giving some historic background to the landmarks.
Kilkenny is the county town or main centre of County Kilkenny. With a population of 26,500 (2016), it's the size of a large town, but retains the official status of a city, a status granted it by King James I of England in 1609 because it had a cathedral. The locals do not take kindly to the city being referred to as a "town".
In the mid-1960s various arts and craft enterprises were set up in what was the stables for Kilkenny Castle. These still exist in various forms and in the county – particularly in Thomastown.
The city plays host to several festivals that bring large crowds from all over Ireland. St. Patrick's Day weekend sees TradFest which brings renowned Irish trad musicians to the city and offers a music trail for enthusiasts, On the May bank holiday weekend, the Rhythm and Roots music festival takes place in pubs and other venues around the city. On the June bank holiday weekend, the Cat Laughs comedy festival takes place. In August, the Kilkenny Arts Festival, second only to its Galway equivalent, takes place. Venues for this last festival include the Castle and St Canice's Cathedral. Savour Kilkenny and the Subtitles festival are scheduled later in the year. The city centre is bookended by its two primary tourist attractions: St Canice's Cathedral to the north in Irishtown and Kilkenny Castle at the opposite end located on the Parade. The city has the greatest concentration of medieval churches in the country. On the occasion of the State purchasing St Mary's Hall, Ireland's paper of record, the Irish Times, stated that "St Mary's Hall in located halfway along the trail of the most significant medieval urban landscape in Ireland". All year round the coaches which line the Parade underline the popularity of Kilkenny as a tourist destination.
The lower end of the Parade, from the Castle to the traffic lights at the beginning of High Street, is a pleasant pedestrian zone that permits a nice vista of the Castle from High Street. It is the location of the only public toilets in the city. This new crude structure has had its appearance softened somewhat by the placing of tourist information boards across the front. These are well worth reading and will aid your enjoyment of the historic city. On Thursdays, a farmers market is held on the Parade. The tourist office, open all year round, is in Shee Alms House, on Rose Inn Street, five minutes walk from the Castle.
As a rule Kilkenny is a white collar city with one notable exception: Smithwicks, which was still brewed until 2013 at St Francis Brewery on Parliament Street. Glanbia, formerly Avonmore, a giant in food production, has its administration headquarters on the edge of the city having being founded 12 miles away in Ballyraggett, Co. Kilkenny. The main venue for performing arts is the art deco Watergate Theatre located between Parliament Street and Irishtown. The predominant sport in Kilkenny is hurling. Hurling is one of two codes in the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). Hurling is played with a wooden stick called a hurley. Using the hurley you hit a cork ball called a slíotar. Kilkenny as a county has won the most All-Ireland titles in the country. The local GAA stadium is Nowlan Park 10 minutes walk from the train station. The nickname for the team is the Cats. If Kilkenny are playing in the All-Ireland Final on the first Sunday of September, the city and county is decked out in the team colours of black and amber. It will be the talk of the town if they reach the Final. The Final is played in Croke Park, Dublin.
As a matter of curiosity, Kilkenny maybe the only place in Ireland with a street called The Parade. Only in Kilkenny and Dublin is there a Parliament Street.
Sightseeing, partying or a spot of shopping in Kilkenny's array of excellent shops, this city is certain to have it all for everyone.
Kilkenny has a long and interesting history. The city's origins pre-date the medieval landmarks existing today. Saint Canice founded a monastic settlement in Kilkenny in the sixth century. The sole remaining landmark from this settlement is the round tower beside St Canice's Cathedral. Strongbow, the famous Norman Conqueror, then built a fortress in the City, Kilkenny Castle, and soon the construction of the walled city began.
It wasn't until the 17th century that Kilkenny really entered its golden age. The parliament known as the Confederation of Kilkenny was founded in 1641. This, also known as Confederate Ireland, refers to the period of Irish self-government between the Rebellion of 1641 and the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland in 1649. One of the Parliament's main objectives was to unite resistance against English persecution of Irish Catholics. With the emergence of this parliament, Kilkenny entered a period of unparalleled success. Over time, however, the influence of the Confederation of Kilkenny diminished. Oliver Cromwell's arrival in Kilkenny heralded the dissolution of the parliament, and the city never quite regained the prosperity it had been celebrated for.
- See also: rail travel in Ireland
Kilkenny Railway Station (MacDonagh Station, ☏) is at the top of Saint John's Street, within easy walking distance of anywhere in the city centre. It was named MacDonagh Station after Thomas MacDonagh, one of the executed leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising. Incredibly, there is no pedestrian passage between the station and the abutting shopping centre confusingly "MacDonagh Junction". To pass between them, you must walk outside and through a series of uncovered surface parking lots.
It is wheelchair friendly and has a left luggage facility. There is a taxi rank at the station and vacant taxis always appear when a train pulls in. Tickets and timetable information can be got at the station, online or by ☏ M-F 09:00-17:00.
- Carlow – about 30 min. Take the M9 motorway southbound and turn off at Junction 8 on to the N10 to Kilkenny.
- Cork – about 2 hours. Take the M8 towards Fermoy. After Mitchelstown, turn right (N24) towards Cahir/Clonmel. About 8 km after Clonmel, turn left (N76) and follow signposts for Kilkenny.
- Dublin – about 1 hour. From the M50 motorway, take Junction 9 for the N7. At Junction 9 turn off on to the M9. Continue on this road to Junction 8 and turn off on to the N10 to Kilkenny.
- Limerick – Take the N24 to Tipperary town. Just after the centre, take a right towards Cashel/Kilkenny (N74). Drive through Cashel, then take the N8 to Urlingford. After Urlingford, follow the signposts to the right to Freshford/Kilkenny (R693). In Freshford, at the T junction turn right, cross the bridge and turn left. The road goes straight to Kilkenny.
- Rosslare Harbour – about 1 hour 25 min from the ferry terminal.
- Waterford – about 40 min. Take N9 primary road towards Dublin. North of Waterford, take the N10 to Kilkenny.
- Wexford – about 1 hour. Take N25 towards New Ross. Take the bypass around New Ross, until you hit a T junction. Turn right towards Enniscorthy for a few hundred metres, then turn left towards Kilkenny (R700).
The only way to fly to Kilkenny is if you fly yourself and land on Kilkenny airfield. For everyone else, the nearest international airports are:
- Dublin Airport – Ireland's biggest and busiest airport, 117 km from Kilkenny. JJ Kavanagh's run a direct bus to Kilkenny city, or else catch a bus into Dublin city centre, then catch a bus or train from there.
- Waterford Airport is the nearest international airport, but it has no scheduled services. There is no public transport from the airport. It's a 15-20 min taxi ride to Waterford city bus/train station, and from there about 40 min to Kilkenny. If you rent a car, it's a 45-minute drive to Kilkenny.
There are two car parks off High Street. One is the Ormonde Street multi-storey which is at the Southern end of High Street. The other is the Market Cross car park at the opposite end with access from Parliament St and James St. A third car park nearby is the Market Yard bordered by the river Nore near John's Bridge. There is a fourth car park at McDonagh Junction shopping centre/railway station at the top of John Street. It is a 10-minute walk to the Parade/High Street.
Kilkenny, due to its size, is a walkable city. You can reach both ends of the city in a matter of minutes. All sites are within walking distance of one another and the walks through this Medieval city are extremely enjoyable.
The main streets are laid out like a backwards L. From the railway station, John's Street runs southwest to the River Nore, becoming Rose Inn St. on the other side. This ends at the Parade, where the castle is located. A 90-degree turn here brings you on to High St, the main shopping street. This runs on, becoming Parliament St., then Irish Town, where St. Canice's Cathedral and round tower are located.
There are walking tours available in Kilkenny City, most notably the Tynan Walking Tours which brings you around this ancient city.
City Direct operate a frequent town bus service in Kilkenny, consisting of two routes:
- Route KK1 provides a cross-town service from Loughboy Retail Park in the south to the N77 Roundabout in the north, serving the Town Centre and MacDonagh Station. Buses run daily every hour.
- Route KK2 provides a cross-town service from St. Luke's Hospital in the west to Purcellsinch in the east, serving the Town Centre and MacDonagh Station. Buses run every hour Monday to Sunday.
The cash fare on the town bus service is €2 adult and €1.20 child (as of Apr 2020). If paying with a TFI Leap Card, the fare is €1.40 adult and 84c child.
Local and regional services
Local and regional bus services from Kilkenny include:
- Bus Éireann 73 operates south to Thomastown and Waterford, and north to Carlow, Portlaoise, Tullamore and Athlone, twice per day Monday to Saturday and once per day on Sundays.
- Bernard Kavanagh 817 operates northeast to Athy, Kilcullen, Naas and Dublin City, once per day Monday to Sunday.
Route maps, including stop locations, are available by entering the route number into the TFI route mapper.
Taxis are available throughout the city. They can be found in the train station or in many of the taxi-ranks in Kilkenny. One of the major taxi-ranks is behind Dunnes Stores on the banks of the River Nore. All taxis run by the meter. The fare is €4.10 for first kilometre or 170 secs, followed by €1.03 per kilometre up to 14 km.
While walking is the preferred option, if staying out of town or in the suburbs, a bike is a simple and healthy way of getting in and out. Kilkenny has cycling paths on almost all major roads leading into the city, so cycling is a safe and hassle free way of getting in from your accommodation. Indeed, while strolling around town you can chain your bike to the many designated bike poles throughout the city, most notably in the centre at the Tholsel and on the Parade.
Kilkenny City, Ireland's most beautiful historic city, is a perfect hub for arts and culture in Ireland. It is the historic gem in Ireland and the historic sites are concentrated in a small area in the City Centre. Many of the iconic city sights are found along the "Medieval Mile", which runs from The Parade (Kilkenny Castle & Design Centre), up High St (Tholsel, Hole in the Wall & Medieval Mile Museum), onto Parliament St (Rothe House & Smithwicks Brewery) and into Irishtown (St Canice's Cathedral).
- 1 Kilkenny Tourist Office (Shee Alms House), Rose Inn St, ☏ . Not only is this a great place to get information about Kilkenny, it is also a tourist attraction itself. It is in Shee Alms House, a Tudor building built in 1582. It was used by the church before lawyer Richard Shee bought it as a home for the poor. It cared for 12 homeless people, and continued in this purpose for 150 years.
- 2 Kilkenny Castle and Gardens, The Parade, ☏ . Jun–Aug 09:00–17:30, Sep-May 09:30 to between 16:30 and 17:30. This stunning Norman castle, which is the dominant feature in the town, is its principal attraction. It overlooks the River Nore. The Castle is three sided in shape. The oldest parts were built around the start of the 13th century. Inside, the Great Hall is very impressive. There is a beautiful rose garden to the front. Its huge forested gardens are beautiful to walk in during the day. There is a tea-room in it. Average visit lasts one hour. Adult €8. Free access to the grounds.
- 3 Black Abbey, Abbey St. Founded in 1225, this impressive Dominican Abbey has beautiful stained glass windows and is surrounded by the old city walls. Near the Black Abbey, on Abbey Street, is Black Freren Gate, the last surviving gate of the city walls. Free admission.
- 4 Rothe House & Garden, 15–16 Parliament St, ☏ . Apr–Oct: M–Sa 10:30–17:00, Su 12:00-17:00; Nov–Mar: M–Sa 10:30–16:30. A unique Tudor merchant's house built between 1594 and 1610. On a burgage plot, it comprises three houses, three cobble-stoned courtyards and a half-acre restored Tudor garden behind the house. Rothe House contains Kilkenny Archeological Society's history museum and archive library. €7.50 Adults, €6.50 concession.
- 5 St Canice's Cathedral & Round Tower, Coach Rd, Irishtown, ☏ . Jun–Aug: M–Sa 09:00-18:00, Su 13:00-18:00 (08:00 Eucharist, 11:30 service). Built over 800 years ago in the 13th century, this impressive Cathedral and 9th-century round tower are one of Kilkenny's main attractions. It is the second largest medieval Cathedral in the country. Since the Protestant Reformation, it has belonged to the Church of Ireland (Anglican). With one of Ireland's only accessible round towers, on top of which one can see the most amazing view of Kilkenny, this is a must for anyone's trip to Kilkenny. The cathedral itself is wheelchair-accessible. Church & tower – adult €6.
- 6 Grace's Courthouse, Parliament St (opposite Rothe House). Housing Kilkenny's Court House, this former fortress built in 1210 (Grace's Castle) and then converted into a prison in the 1500s is full of history.
- 7 Butler House, Patrick St (across the street from the Castle, through the old stables). This stunning chateau-like building is one of the residences of the Butler family, who ruled Kilkenny for many years. It has a lovely small suburban garden. During Arts week in August it is used a venue for exhibitions.
- 8 Kilkenny 'Slips'. These winding streets that ramble through the city, perpendicular to High St, are a true view of medieval Kilkenny.
- 9 Smithwick's Experience Kilkenny, Parliament St, ☏ . 10:00-18:00 daily (last admission 17:00). This is Ireland's oldest brewery, founded in 1221. Kilkenny Beer, Smithwicks, and even Budweiser, have all been brewed here at some stage. Beer production ceased at the end of 2013. The Smithwick's Experience tour includes one pint at the end. Go early to get a ticket since there are only a few tours each day. Adult €13 (online €11.70), child €7.
- 10 St. Mary's Cathedral, James St (just off High St). This is the Catholic cathedral for the city, and was built by 1857. Its tower is visible around the city. It is a most impressive limestone structure.
- 11 Tholsel, High St. This unique arcaded structure built in 1765 is the town hall. Look out for the city's coat of arms over the lowest arch. The Tholsel is in the middle of High St.
- 12 Kilkenny Design Centre, The Castle Yard, The Parade Gardens (opposite the Castle), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. This fabulous stone structure, spanning 19 windows in width and semi circle in form, was finished in 1800. The castle was the main house for the Butler family. This was the stables and through here you reached their town house, the aforementioned Butler House.
- 13 St Kieran's College, College Rd (from the parade, head up Patrick St, turn right onto Ormonde Rd and then continue onto College Rd). This is a beautiful Gothic building of national significance completed in 1840. It was built as a boarding school and seminary. It is a famous hurling academy and in newer buildings still functions as a secondary school. The building is private but the grounds can be enjoyed.
- 14 St John The Evangelist, Dublin Rd (opposite the train station). This is the finest parish church in the city. This large ornate Gothic Revival church was completed in 1908 and is curious for its flat-roofed main entrance flanked by two bays.
- 15 St Canice's Church, Dean St, Irishtown. This Roman Catholic church has a lovely facade and was built by 1827.
- 16 County Hall, John St. This fine seven-bay, three-storey Georgian building, built in 1782, houses the bulk of the county's administration offices. In a previous incarnation it was a college.
- 17 Medieval Mile Museum, 2 St Mary's Ln (off High St). 10:00–18:00 (last admission 17:15). Located in the former St Mary's Church, built in 1205. The museum opened in Feb 2017. Allow 40 min to an hour to look around. Adult from €7.
- 18 St John's Priory, cnr John St & Michael St (opposite Langtons). The Lady Chapel, built in 1290, was re-roofed and consecrated by the Church of Ireland in 1817. In the grounds are the ruins of the even older main chapel.
- 19 The Hole in the Wall, off High St (opposite St. Mary's Lane). This quaint Elizabethan Tudor house dates from 1582 and features its own snug. It is a historically renowned tavern which has re-opened as a boutique arts venue. If it's open you will see a swing sign on High Street.
- 20 Maudlin Tower, off Maudlin St (turn right at St John's Priory). This tall tower dates from the 15th century. There is no internal access but this tall tower is perfectly preserved externally and makes for fascinating viewing.
- 21 Talbot Tower, Lower New St (opposite the new tech secondary school). The restored sole remaining tower of the city walls.
City walking tour route
Start at Kilkenny Castle.
- Place yourself at the middle entrance of three on The Parade. You will be directly facing the Kilkenny Design Centre. Having visited the Castle cross the road and walk under the archway of the KDC. Walk under another archway and you will enter the gardens of Butler House. Well worth seeing. Return to the Parade, have a look at the tourist boards on your right and continue down the hill. Note the fine building on your left just at the lights which now houses the Left Bank Pub. It used to be the Bank of Ireland.
- Continue straight ahead and enter High Street. This is the main shopping street. About 3 minutes along turn right after Goods and you will reach the Medieval Mile Museum in the former St Mary's Church. Return to High Street taking a right. Straight ahead is the town hall. Note the city crest over one of the arches you will walk under. Shortly after the town hall on your right is the butterslip. It is narrow lane connecting High Street with the parallel Kieran Street. In previous centuries butter was traded here. Continue along High Street until you come to the last slipway on your right. Turn down that lane and you will reach Kieran Street. In front of you will be Kyteler's Inn. It was the home of the witch Dame Alice Kyteler. A functioning public house. it is well worth a look inside. Exiting Kyteler's take a right and shortly ahead the street becomes wide. You are now on Parliament Street. The stately courthouse is on your right with its balcony and cells underneath. On your left is the best example of a merchants house left in Ireland. It is called Rothe House. It comprises three houses in the one complex. The restores gardens are accessed via the lane running alongside.
- Continuing along Parliament Street we reach St Francis Brewery, where Smithwicks is produced. As the street slopes down we pass the Watergate theatre on your right. It is Kilkenny's stab at Art Deco. Further on you will see the ruins of St Francis Abbey on your right in the grounds of the brewery.
- Crossing the Bregagh river brings you into Irishtown. Irishtown was historically the poor end of town. However if you look up you will see the magnificent St Canice's Cathedral (Church of Ireland) with its round tower. It is accessed by climbing the steps just after the pedestrian crossing. There is a great view of the city from the tower. There is a roadway which runs parallel to the steps. If you come back down that path you will reach Dean Street. Take a right. Up ahead is the nice RC church of St Canice. Take a left before it and cross backover the Bregagh. Shortly on your left handside you will see Black Freren Gate, the only remaining gate of the city walls. On your right is the 12th-century Black Abbey. The stain glass window in particular is magnificent. Leave the Abbey and take a right and then left onto Blackmill Street. Climb up the hill to reach St Mary's Cathedral (RC). It was built in the 1840s and is modelled on Gloucester Cathedral.
- Facing a pub beside the green turn left to reach the entrance to the Cathedral. Returning to the entrance take a left and then a right down a lane which runs parallel to a school. You will shortly reach Wellington Square. Note the shared Georgian doorway. There are also examples in Parliament Street albeit of a different variety.
- Return to the Cathedral entrance and eventually to the pub. Take a left bringing you onto Parnell Street. At the top take a right and an immediate left onto New Street. Opposite the New Tech is Talbot Tower. At the top is St Patrick's Church. Take a right at the church and you will come by the entrance to St Kieran's College. Enter the grounds to enjoy the fabulous building. It used to be a seminary and a boarding school. Return to St Parick's Church and continue straight ahead descending as you go. Note the lovely limestone technical college on your left.
- At the T junction take a left again onto Patrick Street. Keep walking downhill noting the fine facade of the Hibernian Hotel. At the traffic lights continue straight ahead onto Rose Inn Street. You will reach Shee Alms House on your left handside. It has the tourist office symbol hanging outside. It is well worth a look inside. Return to the street and continue downhill over John's Bridge and take an immediate left. Walk along the quay and you will reach the main city Library house in a quaint stone structure from the turn of the last century.
- Just after the library take a right and head up through the car park and continue up the lane on the left. On reaching Michael St turn left. At the end turn right onto Wolfe Tone St. Note the Old Auxiliary Hospital on the left. Shortly along enter John's Green. Turn left onto Barrack St noting the lovely old almshouse on the left. One of 7 former places of respite for the poor across the city. Double back and turn left after Centra. On the left is Garrison House where the head of James Stephens Barracks lived.
- Continue on and reach the junction of Dublin Road and John St. Head straight on and come on St John's Church on the right. The Railway Station is on your left up the hill. Enter the church grounds and passing the church head down the steps to enter Maudlin St. On your left a short distance up is Maudlin Tower.
- Double back and continue down until you re enter John St turning left. Note the lovely St John's Priory on your right. After the church turn right up the lane to glimpse the large old Evans Home. It will soon house the collection from the Butler Gallery at Kilkenny Castle. Double back and turn right on John St. Shortly on your left is the entrance for the former Kilkenny College. This lovely old Georgian Building now houses Kilkenny County Council. Continuing along John St you eventually reach John's Bridge. Look to your left for a lovely view of the Castle.
- At the end of the bridge take a left into Canal Square. Note the lovely gate lodge on the left. Walk along the canal walk and look back over the river past the hotel. You will see the old Kilkenny College. A fine Georgian structure it now houses the offices of Kilkenny County Council. On your right there is a gate to enter the Castle Park. Getting yourself to the upper level turn right and with the side of the Castle on your left continuing walking. You will see the lovely Rose Garden coming into view. Turn to your right, go to the railing and look out on John's Bridge with a view of St Canice's Cathedral in the distance.
- Turn around and walk straight across you can re-enter the Parade beside where the walk started.
- 22 Dunmore Caves, Dunmore (10 km north of Kilkenny, off the N78 on the way to Castlecomer), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. 09:30-17:00 (15:00 Nov-Feb, 18:00 Mid Jun-Mid Sept). The show cave is incredibly well developed and is a wonder to walk around. Guided tours only. €5 adult, €3 child.
- 23 Jenkinstown Park (10 km north of Kilkenny, 11 km south of Castlecomer, off N78). The forested park is a nice place for a walk or a picnic. There are deer and some rare trees. During April the forest is carpeted by bluebells. It was once part of the Bryan-Bellew Estate, of which castle ruins and walls can still be seen. Thomas Moore wrote The Last Rose of Summer while staying at Jenkinstown House. Free.
- 24 Kells Augustinian Priory, Kells (10 km south of Kilkenny), ☏ . One of Ireland's best intact priories. The priory, surrounded by its old walls, was built in 1193. You are free to wander throughout the whole complex. There is a Round Tower and High Cross nearby in Kilree. There is a parking lot above the priory, but the more beautiful way to enter is by parking near Mullin's Mills and walk along the river. It is well worth a visit. free.
- St Mary's Church, Gowran (10 km east of Kilkenny), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 28 May - 16 Sept: Daily 09:30-18:00. A 13th-century church.
- Craft Council of Ireland, Castle Yard (Opposite Castle, behind Kilkenny Design Craft Centre), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Funded by the government, this organization promotes the craft industry in Ireland. Check out its latest exhibitions and see crafts people at work in their studios.
- The Irish Whiskey Event, Stoneyford. But run in location of choice, ☏ . This group whiskey-tasting has some excellent reviews. Learn about whiskey and try some rare Irish whiskies.
- Watergate Theatre, Parliament St, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. The main theatre in Kilkenny has shows or music most nights of the week. For something smaller, check out Cleers Bar and Theatre, just across the road.
- Kilkenny Parks. Kilkenny County has an array of parks, not only in the city. The Woodstock Gardens in the South and Mount Juliet Estate are wonderful, yet the city centre Kilkenny Castle Park is the most enjoyable.
- Walk the Canal (Start at Rose in Street). The Canal in Kilkenny starts at Canal Square, a new City pavilion with benches overlooking the Rivercourt hotel, in the shadow of the imposing Kilkenny Castle. This romantic walk takes you along the old canal, shaded by tall trees and old mills. The walk can in fact take you for miles into the countryside if you so wish, following the course of the River Nore.
- 1 A Rural Experience, Castlefield, Gowran (Tours leave from the Parade), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Runs day tours to different places in Co. Kilkenny and some neighboring counties.
- Kilkenny City Tours (Tours leave from the Parade). 10:00-18:30. They run a 25-minute tour of the centre of the city taking in all the historic sites on a quirky black and amber bus/train. It goes from opposite the Castle.
- Pat Tynan Kilkenny Walking Tours, Tourist Office, Rose Inn St, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Mid-Mar to Sep: M–Sa 11:00, 14:00; Easter to Sep: Su 11:00, 12:30. Winter – ask tourist office. Hour-long tours, leaving from the tourist office. This popular tour shows you around medieval Kilkenny city on foot. €10, senior/student €8, under 12 free.
- Kilkenny on Foot offer an immersive and comprehensive audio walking tour of Kilkenny. The tour shares extensive knowledge about shops, restaurants, cafes and the historical sites of Kilkenny.
- Kilkenny Boat Tour or the company, BoatTrips.ie offer guided 30 minute boat trips of the city. In this time you with get an overview of the local history and see much of the wildlife that make Kilkenny and the river Nore their home. ☏
- Cat Laughs Comedy Festival. First weekend in June. An annual festival first held in 1995. Many famous faces have appeared at it over the years including Bill Murray, Lewis Black, Rich Hall, Dom Irrera, Mike Wilmot, Dan Castellaneta, Doug Stanhope and David Cross. The festival includes stand-up comedy performances and has a film component called Kitty Flicks. There is a traditional soccer match held on the Sunday afternoon between the Irish comedians and those from the rest of the world.
- Kilkenny Arts Festival. August. This annual festival is a time of much colour and enjoyment in the city. The long streets are flooded with artists and music can be heard throughout the city.
- Rhythm and Roots Festival. First weekend of May. A hugely popular annual festival in Kilkenny city, with over 70 gigs take place with over 50 free events. All types of Roots music is catered for, including Folk, Blues, Rockabilly, Americana, Rock'n'Roll.
- Watch a Hurling Match, Nowlan Park. Check the website or local paper for upcoming match details. Hurling is big in Kilkenny, with their county team the perennial Irish champions. There are matches on every weekend all over the county. Nowlan Park is the main stadium holding 30,000 people. It's also possible to check out a smaller match in the local club grounds.
Golf is very popular in Kilkenny, with courses to suit every level. The following are in the city, but there are lots more courses in County Kilkenny.
- Kilkenny Golf Course, Glendine, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. A member-owned 18-hole golf course. Can rent clubs. Green fees €25-45.
- Pococke Golf Course. A par 3 course for beginners to the game.
- Kilkenny Driving Range, Newpark, ☏ .
- Lacken Pitch and Putt, St. Canice's Hospital Grounds, Dublin Rd, ☏ .
Kilkenny is known as a great place to shop. Most shops are open 09:00-18:00, with late opening on Thursday nights till 21:00. There are lots of ATMs all over the city.
- Kilkenny Design Craft Centre (opposite Kilkenny Castle on The Parade). 10:00-19:00. Home to an amazing selection of Irish hand crafted gifts and the finest crafts in the city.
- Allens (Opposite the Book Centre on High Street), ☏ . M-Sa 09:30-18:00. Stockists of a large array of giftware, cookware, bedlinen and other household accessories over two floors.
- High Street. This is the main street to shop on. Includes Kilkenny's many boutique shops, and the usual High Street brands.
- MacDonagh Junction Shopping Centre (Beside Railway station). A new shopping centre that includes many excellent stores. It also has some of the finest cafés around in the brilliantly renovated Work House and old Railway Station (it includes a Great Famine Memorial Garden).
- Market Cross Shopping Centre (Off High St), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Kilkenny Beer. While Kilkenny's brewing tradition extends to Smithwicks and other beers, nothing beats the 'home branded stuff'. This Irish cream ale is similar in many respects to Smithwicks.
Kilkenny is known as the design capital of Ireland and is home to the Craft Council of Ireland (see Do section), so it's unsurprising that there are an excellent array of high quality things to purchase. All of the items below are made in Kilkenny, most are on sale in the Kilkenny Design Craft Centre. In most cases, you can visit the workshops themselves and see how the items are made.
In 2009, the brand 'Made In Kilkenny' was created to help promote craft industry. Look out for it.
- Chesneau Leather Goods, Bennettsbridge, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. For over 30 years, French designer Edmond Chesneau has been creating stylish handbags in Kilkenny.
- Jerpoint Glass Studio and Gallery, Stoneyford, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Sa 10:00-18:00, Su 12:00-17:00. A family-run glass studio making handmade items since 1979.
- Keith Mosse Woodworking. With over two decades of experience making handcrafted furniture and other wooden items.
- Moth to a Flame, Bennettsbridge, ☏ . M-Sa 09:00-18:00, Su 12:00-18:00. Distinctive and stylish handmade Irish candles. See the candles being made in the workshop.
- Nicholas Mosse Pottery, Bennettsbridge, ☏ . M-Sa 10:00-18:00, Su 13:30-17:00. The famous pottery of Ireland has its workshop a few minutes south of the city.
- Rosemarie Durr Pottery, Castlecomer Discovery Park, Castleomer. Beautiful hand-made pottery.
Kilkenny has an excellent selection of some of the finest restaurants around, including many luxury and traditional places to eat.
- The Grapevine, 6 Rose Inn St (30 seconds from The Parade, on the right), ☏ . Opens M-F 16:30, Sa 12:30, Su 11:30. Serving wine, world beers and great tapas in a wonderful old world meets contemporary setting. Live music most weekends.
- Kilkenny Design Centre, Castle Yard, ☏ . Beautiful setting, opposite the castle and in the old stables of the Castle. This is the perfect café for a lunch during the day.
- Kyteler's Inn, Kieran St. Probably Kilkenny's most famous pub and restaurant, this place is steeped in history and is the centre of Kilkenny's ancient witchcraft scene. The food is wholesome Irish food and with a pint of Guinness is an experience in itself.
- La Rivista, 22 Parliament St. Italian restaurant.
- Marble City Bar and Tearooms, 66 High St.
- Rinuccini (Ristorante Rinuccini), 1 The Parade (From Kilkenny Castle walk towards the centre of town and it is 300m on the opposite side of the road.), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Lunch from 12:00-14:30 and dinner from 18:00-22:30. Authentic Italian restaurant opposite the castle. Can be very busy. The prices are a bit more upmarket but the quality matches the price.
- [dead link] Yindees Downtown, John St. W–Su. Thai restaurant.
- Zuni, 26 Patrick St, ☏ . Stunning 'boutique' restaurant on Kilkenny's Edwardian Street, offering fine attention to detail on all their food.
The City of Kilkenny has a large array of pubs and clubs to suit all ages. While Parliament Street remains the traditional area for quiet, comfortable pubs, John Street is more for the younger clubbing crowd. The drinking age is 18 years of age. Pubs are open from 10:30-23:30 (F Sa from 12:30), while off-licenses are open from 10:00-22:00 (Su from 12:30).
Try the native Kilkenny beer or the native Smithwicks ale, famous the world over as the distinct taste.
- Cleere’s Bar and Theatre, 28 Parliament St (opposite the Watergate Theatre). Very popular bar that also puts on small shows in its theatre out back. The doorstep sandwiches and range of soups, including Roasted Red Pepper & Courgette, Pea & Lemon, Tomato Garlic & Chorizo, Broccolli & Almond will keep the hunger pangs away for the day.
- The Field, 2 High St (city centre, overlooking the Parade and Kilkenny Castle), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Very popular pub and restaurant. Often has a late bar during weekends and summer months, so open after other pubs close.
- The Grapevine, 6 Rose Inn St (30 seconds walk from The Parade), ☏ . 12:00 till late. Great wine, world beers, tapas and music 6 nights a week. Open for coffee daily too!
- Kyteler's Inn, Kieran St, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Great old bar, full of character, tourists and locals. Has a great beer garden.
- Left Bank, 1 The Parade (cnr Patrick St), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A trendy bar in a stunning former bank building in the heart of the city.
- Marble City Bar, 66 High St.
- Matt the Millers, 1 John St (right beside John's Bridge), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Very popular pub. Often has a late bar, so open after other pubs close.
- The Pumphouse, 26 Parliament St (opposite the Watergate Theatre). Great pub for a quiet drink during the week. Can be very busy on weekends. Shows live sport.
- 1 Paris Texas Bar And Restaurant, 2 High St, Collegepark, R95 V6TE (from Kilkenny Castle, walk up high street and it is approx. 300 m on the right), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 12:00-00:30. Lively bar and restaurant in the centre of the town serving Cajun and BBQ food from a wood smoked oven. It has a gin and whiskey bar and also serves craft beers from around the world. Live music most nights.
- Langtons Club (Langtons House Hotel), 67 John St, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Tu Th Sa from 22:00. Very popular nightclub in a beautiful ballroom that is also used for weddings.
- O'Faolain's Club 51, 51 John St, ☏ . Excellent fun with an old ruin inside.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
- Kilkenny Tourist Hostel, 35 Parliament St, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Double/twin from €18pp and dorms from €14pp.
- MacGabhainns Backpackers Hostel, 24 Vicar St (near St Canice's Cathedral and Round Tower), ☏ . Check-out: 10:30. Dorms from €15.
There are two camp sites near by the city.
- Nore Valley Park, Bennettsbridge (11 km south of Kilkenny, take R700 to Bennettsbridge), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. A campsite and working farm, overlooking the River Nore. Tent €8-12, caravan €11.
- Tree Grove Camping, Danville House, Newross Rd (1.5 km from Kilkenny, on R700), ☏ , (Mobile), ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 1 Mar-15 Nov. This family run campsite is located just outside the city's ringroad. Two adults €15-20.
- The Hoban Hotel Kilkenny, Smithsland South, Springhill (1.6 km from city centre), ☏ . Bright, spacious rooms with free Wi-Fi, parking and breakfast included in most room rates. Double from €65.
- Club House Hotel, Patrick St, ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:30.
- Fanad House, Castle Rd, ☏ . A lovely B&B in a beautiful setting just across from the gates into the Castle Park.
- Kilford Arms Hotel, John St, ☏ . Just down from the train station and shopping centres.
- Kilkenny Inn Hotel, 15-16 Vicar St, ☏ . Just down from St Canice's Cathedral, in the heart of the old town.
- Newlands Lodge, Kells Rd (head south from the Kells Road Roundabout, it is about 5 km on the left hand side), ☏ . This charming B&B a few kilometres outside the city has one of the warmest welcomes you are ever likely to receive. €45 pppn.
- Rosquil House, Castlecomer Rd R95 P962, ☏ . Pleasant friendly B&B open Feb-Dec. B&B double £100.
- Hotel Kilkenny, College Rd, ☏ . One of Kilkenny's best hotels.
- Kilkenny Ormonde Hotel, Ormonde St, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. One of Kilkenny's premier hotels. Includes a leisure club with swimming pool.
- Lyrath Estate Hotel, Dublin Rd, ☏ . Kilkenny's premier hotel. This famous hotel, spa and conference centre is set in rolling countryside, a mile from the city centre. Its renovated building is a treat to dine in.
- Newpark Hotel, Castlecomer Rd, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Four-star hotel, with a spa and swimming pool. About 15 minutes walk from the town centre. They have some great deals on their website.
- The Pembroke Hotel, Patrick St, ☏ . Some of its rooms have a stunning view of the Castle. This boutique hotel is a culmination of style and luxury. It is no longer affiliated with the Ormonde Hotel.
- Rivercourt Hotel, John St, ☏ . A stunning hotel built on the banks of the River Nore with undoubtedly the most spectacular views of the Castle.
Kilkenny is a very safe city with very little crime, and serious crime is almost non-existent. Emergency services can be reached by dialing 999 or 112.
- Kilkenny Garda Station, Dominic St, ☏ , fax: .
- St. Luke's General Hospital, ☏ , fax: .
There are many towns and villages around County Kilkenny that are well worth a visit.
- Ballyragget – small town off the tourist trail with a nice square and a fine Roman Catholic church
- Callan – check out The Moat, a great example of a motte-and-bailey, and visit the childhood home of Edmund Rice, the founder of the Irish Christian Brothers
- Castlecomer – the main town in north Kilkenny, with Castlecomer Discover Park and Footprints in Coal Experience, about its 300 years of coal mining
- Freshford – a village with old Christian structures
- Thomastown – on the river Nore, and famous for Jerpoint Abbey, Kilfane Glen gardens, and Mount Juliet Golf Course