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Thomastown

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Thomastown (Irish: Baile Mhic Andáin) is a 13th-century medieval walled town in County Kilkenny. It is on the bank of the river Nore and is famous for Jerpoint Abbey, Kilfane Glen gardens, and Mount Juliet Golf Course.

Understand

Thomastown lies in a valley. Thomastown is 17 km southeast from Kilkenny on the R700. It is the middle town on a series of towns dotted along the River Nore. To the northwest is Bennettsbridge. To the southeast is Inistioge.

The town has grown substantially in the 21st century due to its proxminity to Kilkenny and less expensive housing. The town has all the essential services required for tourists. There are Super Valu and Lidl supermarkets on the road towards Gowran on the edge of town. The town's best attractions lie a couple of kilometres outside the town, all in different directions so a car will be required to see them. Be sure to visit the watergarden in the town just off the main street.

Get in

By train

Trains from Dublin Heuston take about two hours to Thomastown via NewbridgeKildareAthyCarlow, Bagenalstown and Kilkenny. They continue south to Waterford, another 20 min. There are four M-Sa and three on Sunday - not all the Waterford trains stop here. A single from Dublin might be €16, see Irish Rail for timetables and fares.

1 Thomastown station is 1 km west of the village. It's unstaffed with no ticket vending, so you need to print out internet tickets in advance. There's level access, with just a single track and platform with no bridge to negotiate. Free car park but no bike parking.

By bus

Expressway Bus 4 runs every hour or two from Dublin Airport, Busáras and Heuston station, taking 2 hr 30 min to Thomastown via Carlow and continuing to Waterford. A single adult fare is around €20.

Bus Eireann 73 traverses the Midlands, twice M-Sa and once on Sunday, from Athlone to Clara, Tullamore, Mountmellick, PortlaoiseStradballyCarlowKilkenny, Thomastown, Ballyhale, Mullinavat and Waterford.

Bus 882 runs once M-Sa from New Ross to Thomastown and Kilkenny. Otherwise you have to backtrack via Waterford.

By road

From Dublin follow M7 then M9 for Kilkenny, then from exit 9 loop onto N10 then the Bennettsbridge road to come onto R700 south.

From Waterford take M9 north to exit 10, then R699 east onto R448 northeast.

From Rosslare and Wexford take N25 to New Ross then R700 north.

Get around

You need wheels. Grennan Castle is an easy walk but attractions such as Jerpoint Abbey are some 3 km away, along a busy road with no sidewalk. A bike would do.

See

  • Town centre follows the pattern of its medieval walls, with a clockwise one-way street system. The only remnant of those defences is by the river bridge. Thomastown Church on Pipe St stands by the ruins of the 13th century church of St Mary.
  • 1 Watergarden, Ladywell Street, ☏ +353 56 774690, ✉ the_watergarden@camphill.ie. Tu-F 10:00-16:00. Peaceful garden with fountains, water wheel, waterfall, plants, coffee shop, craft shop and garden centre. It's within a Camphill Communities non-residential centre for adults with special needs. (updated Mar 2021)
  • 2 Grennan Castle is a picturesque ruin by the river. It was built in the 13th century by Thomas FitzAnthony; he gave the name Thomastown to the village formerly called Grennan but this area south of the river retained the earlier name. The castle was abandoned after a siege by Cromwell but left intact, until the 1800s when it was raided for building masonry. Cattle wander in and out to admire the architecture, mind where you tread.
  • Thomple Church by the castle is the overgrown ruin of a Norman church and graveyard, part of the Priory of Inistioge.
  • 3 Jerpoint Abbey, Jockeyhall R95 P523 (2.5 km southwest of Thomastown on R448), ☏ +353 56 772 4623. Mar-Oct daily 09:00-17:30, Nov-Dec 09:30-16:00. Extensive ruin of a Cistercian monastery, founded 1180 (probably over an earlier Benedictine abbey) and dissolved in 1541. There's an impressive cloister arcade, tower, tombs and carvings, and the abbey remained an upmarket burial ground after the dissolution. The visitor centre has a small exhibition. Adult €5, conc €4, child €3. (updated Mar 2021)
  • St Nicholas' Church just west of the abbey is now the only remnant of the medieval village of Newton Jerpoint. A grave here is said to be the resting place of St Nicholas of Myra (270-343 AD), but the clue is in the name, he actually lies in Myra in Turkey. Jerpoint Park adjacent often has sheepdog demonstrations.
  • 4 Kilfane Glen and Waterfall, Kilfane (3 km northeast of Thomastown off R703), ☏ +353 56 774 7105. Mid-July - Aug 11:00-18:00. Gardens, cottage orné and woodland dell with waterfall prettified in the 1790s - they were obviously aiming for the Hameau style of Versailles, only without the subsequent beheadings. The site was restored in the 1970s. No dogs. Free car park. Adult €7. (updated Mar 2021)
  • Kilfane House is a grand Georgian mansion. In 2019 it was sold to the Seraph Foundation, who plan to convert it to a "spiritual retreat".
  • 5 Kilfane Church is the ruin of a 13th century church. One of its denizens is the "Cantwell Fada" or "Long Man", an effigy of a knight carved from a single limestone slab. It originally lay horizontally on a tomb, but for some reason it's been set upright.
  • 6 Dysart Castle is a dilapidated medieval turret some 3 km south of town; it was part of the Priory of Kells (see Kilkenny}. Or is it? - according to its most famous resident it may not exist at all if nobody is looking at it. Bishop George Berkeley (1685-1753) argued that what we can't or don't experience doesn't exist, unless it's encompassed by the mind of God. He's spoofed as The Red King in Through the Looking Glass: if the king wakes from his dream, Alice and everything else will disappear. He gives his name to Berkeley, California.
  • Inistioge is a picture-perfect little village, with 18th / 19th century buildings clustered around the village green. An old ten-arched stone bridge takes the road over the River Nore. You can walk up to Woodstock Gardens from here. Halfway up, Mount Sandford Castle is a folly with panoramic views back down the valley to the bridge. Swiss Cottage was a similar folly but the ruins have been reclaimed by the jungle.
  • 8 Woodstock Gardens, Inistioge, ☏ +353 56 775 8797. Daily Apr-Sept 09:00-19:00, Oct-Mar 09:00-16:00. Woodstock House was built from 1747, and the gardens laid out in the late 19th century. The house was torched in 1922 in the Irish civil war and remains a ruin, but the Victorian gardens and arboretum were restored from the 1990s, with many exotic species. There's an avenue of Monkey Puzzle trees, a charming glass house, and a panoramic view over Inistioge village from the entrance. €5 per car. (updated Mar 2021)

Do

  • Mount Juliet Golf Course is a championship parkland course at the hotel, see Sleep. White tees 6926 yards, par 72, round from €110. The next championship event is the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open 1-4 July 2021.
  • Mount Juliet Equestrian Centre at the hotel is open daily for lessons, trekking and cross country rides.
  • 1 Mountain View, Kiltorcan, Ballyhale R95 NH31 (15 km south of Thomastown on R448), ☏ +353 56 776 8122, ✉ info@mountainview.ie. Originally a golf club, but that's nowadays a sideshow, it's primarily an event space for weddings and the like. "Party the night away" they say, which you'd need to as they don't have accommodation. (updated Mar 2021)

Buy

  • Essentials: the main shops in Thomastown are north along Dublin Rd. Lidl is open M-Sa 08:00-22:00, Su 09:00-21:00.
  • Thomastown has several artisan outlets, collectively promoted as "Made In Kilkenny".
  • Clay Creations (Brid Lyons Ceramics), Low Street, ☏ +353 87 257 0735. Tu-Sa 10:00-17:30. Ceramic studio that makes contemporary original designs. There is also a gallery. (updated Mar 2021)
  • Jerpoint Glass Studio, Stoneyford R95 WN67 (by Hunter's Yard at Mount Juliet), ☏ +353 56 772 4350, ✉ enquiries@jerpointglass.com. M-Sa 10:00-18:00, Su 12:00-17:00. A family run glass studio since 1979. (updated Mar 2021)

Eat

  • Kullen's Kitchen, Pipe Street, ☏ +353 56 775 4011. Daily 09:00-17:00. Cheerful family-friendly place for breakfast, lunch and snacks. (updated Mar 2021)
  • Barrows Keep, Marsh's St R95 EH33, ☏ +353 56 772 4728. W Th 18:00-22:00, F Sa 12:30-14:30, 18:00-22:00, Su 13:00-19:00. Offers modern Irish cuisine. (updated Mar 2021)
  • Green Spice on Low St is Indian cuisine.
  • Watergarden has a cafe, see above.
  • Mount Juliet (see Sleep) has two restaurants: Lady Helen Restaurant for fine dining in the main house, and the more informal Hound (previously Kendall's) in Hunter's Yard.

Drink

  • Carroll’s Bar, Logan's Street, ☏ +353 56 779 3651. Lively trad pub over 70 years old. Has beer garden, food and live music. (updated Mar 2021)
  • Tim's, The Quay, ☏ +353 87 745 3209. W-F 17:00-21:00, Sa Su 15:00-21:00. Slick place, has good food and outdoor seating area. (updated Mar 2021)

Sleep

  • Nore Valley Park is the nearest camping and caravan site, 6 km north near Bennettsbridge: see Kilkenny.
  • Tower House, Low St R95 HE08, ☏ +353 56 772 4500. Comfy welcoming B&B in historic building in town centre. B&B double €100. (updated Mar 2021)
  • Abbey House, Jerpoint R95 W99F (R448 next to abbey), ☏ +353 56 772 4166. Charming Georgian country house with six rooms en suite. Dogs welcome. B&B double €80. (updated Mar 2021)
  • Ballyduff House, Ballyduff (5 km southeast of Thomastown), ☏ +353 56 775 8488. Mansion built in 1760 in parkland overlooking the River Nore. Tastefully decorated rooms and gets great reviews for comfort and welcome. B&B double €100. (updated Mar 2021)
  • 2 Carrickmourne House, New Ross Road R95 K883 (off R700 3 km southeast of town), ☏ +353 56 772 4124. Five en-suite rooms in a picturesque location. B&B double €80. (updated Mar 2021)
  • 3 Mount Juliet, Mount Juliet, Thomastown R95 E096, ☏ +353 56 777 3000, ✉ reservations@mountjuliet.ie. Upscale resort hotel in Georgian mansion, gets great reviews for comfort, service and dining. The main Manor House has 32 bedrooms; Hunter's Yard outbuildings are cheaper. With spa and pool, golf courses, fishing and horse-riding. Manor House B&B double from €200. (updated Mar 2021)
  • 4 Oldtown Farmhouse, Oldtown, Stoneyford R95 K535 (1 km west of Mount Juliet), ☏ +353 56 772 8224. Welcoming B&B with four ensuite rooms open April-Nov. B&B double €80. (updated Mar 2021)
  • Woodstock Arms does B&B in Inistioge.

Connect

As of March 2021, Thomastown has a mobile signal from Eir and Vodafone, and 4G from Three. 5G has not reached this area.

Go next

  • Kilkenny is an attractive small medieval city.
  • New Ross has the Kennedy ancestral homestead and JFK Arboretum.
  • Waterford has a great Viking, medieval and Georgian heritage.



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