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Kilkenny

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Kilkenny is the county town of County Kilkenny in southeast Ireland, with a population of 26,512 in 2016. At its core is the medieval city founded by the Normans, and in the 1640s it was effectively the capital of Ireland. It's a lively small city with a rich cultural heritage and lots of visitor facilities, mostly on the west bank of the River Nore.

Understand

Kilkenny in Irish is Cill Chainnigh, the church of Cainnech or Canice (515-600 AD), and the first settlement grew up in the 6th century around what is now St Canice Cathedral. It was seized by the Normans in 1170, led by Richard de Clare or "Strongbow"; he built the fortress which became the castle. The ford across the River Nore was replaced by a bridge and medieval Kilkenny developed as three districts each protected by their own walls: High Town around the castle, Irish Town around the cathedral, and St Johns on the east bank of the river.

The English Tudors strengthened their grip on Ireland by "plantations" - colonies of loyal English and Scots (mostly Protestant) to keep the natives in check. Irish resentment flared into rebellion in 1641. Rebellion was crushed in Dublin and Ulster but gained strength elsewhere, and led to the de facto state of Confederate Ireland. This controlled two-thirds of the country, and Kilkenny was its capital. It had a governing Assembly, minted coins and levied taxes; it was continuously at war but backed with money and weapons by friendly Catholic nations, especially by the Pope. Nominally however it was not independent, but Royalist in support of the deposed King Charles I. In 1650 a man called Oliver Cromwell arrived outside the city walls of Kilkenny to discuss the finer points of this stance, and when he'd done discussing, Ireland wasn't a Confederacy any more.

The city was rebuilt, with the castle becoming a more ornamental "chateau", and 18th / 19th century industries developed such as brewing, textiles and dairy-processing. Many buildings were faced with "Kilkenny Marble", a dark grey limestone quarried locally, which takes a polish. The place was little disturbed in later conflicts; the railway arrived in 1848, and the beginnings of tourism. This focuses on the "Medieval Mile" between castle and cathedral, and the castle stables have been converted into arts and craft shops.

Although Kilkenny is the county town, it's a shibboleth to refer to it as a "town". It has a cathedral and King James I proclaimed it a city in 1609, but there's no distinction under modern local government legislation. Kilkenny's interesting mix of old and new means that it does indeed feel like a compact city rather than a large town.

1 Kilkenny TIC, 79A High St R95 F640, ☏ +353 56 775 1500. The Tourist Office is itself historic - it's in Shee Alms House, founded in 1582. It cared for 12 homeless people, and (with a long break in the Cromwellian period) remained in use until 1830. It was then a chapel, hospital and shop, before being restored to its original Tudor appearance and becoming the TIC in 1981. (updated Mar 2021)

Get in

By plane

Dublin (DUB IATA) is a good choice for its wide range of flights, competitive fares, and good onward public transport.

Cork (ORK IATA) is another possibility but has fewer flights.

By train

See also: rail travel in Ireland

Trains from Dublin Heuston take 90 min to Kilkenny via NewbridgeKildareAthyCarlow and Bagenalstown, and continue south to Thomastown and Waterford (another 30 min). There are seven M-Sa and four on Sunday. A single might be €15, see Irish Rail for timetables and fares.

1 Kilkenny MacDonagh Station is central, enter from the south off Dublin Rd. Don't go into MacDonagh Junction Shopping Centre, there's no passageway to the station from that side. It's named for Thomas MacDonagh (1878-1916), one of the executed leaders of the Easter Rising. The station is wheelchair friendly and has a left luggage facility.

By bus

Dublin Coach M9 runs every couple of hours daily from Dublin Bachelor's Walk (not Busáras) and Red Cow P&R to Kilkenny (1 hr 45 min) and continues to WaterfordDungarvan and Cork.

JJ Kavanagh Bus 736 usually bypasses Kilkenny, but one run per day links Dublin airport and city centre, Carlow, Kilkenny and Waterford.

Bernard Kavanagh Bus 817 runs once a day from Dublin Eden Quay, Heuston and Red Cow via Naas, Kilcullen and Athy, taking 2 hr 20 min to Kilkenny.

Bus Éireann 73 crosses the Midlands from Athlone via TullamorePortlaoise and Carlow to Kilkenny, and continues to Thomastown and Waterford. There are two M-Sa and one on Sunday.

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

The rival bus companies use different stopping points in Kilkenny, but they're all close to the railway station.

By car

From Dublin take N7 west - the first section to Naas hasn't been upgraded to motorway yet - then follow M7 to M9, leave at Junction 8 for N10 into town. Reckon an hour.

From Carlow or Waterford it's a straight run on M9.

From Cork take M8; at Cahir follow N24 through Clonmel then N76 for Kilkenny.

Get around

By car

You need the car for outlying sights such as Kells Priory, but not within city centre.

Kilkenny doesn't have a Park & Ride so bringing a car here means looking for parking. Car parks just off High Street are Ormonde Street multi-storey near its south end, and Market Cross north on Parliament St. There's also Market Yard near John's Bridge, and Park Rite garage by the railway station.

On foot

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.

By bus

City Direct operate two cross-city bus routes, both daily every 30-60 min:

  • KK1 runs north-south, from N77 roundabout in the north via city centre and railway station to Loughboy Retail Park south.
  • KK2 runs east-west, from Purcellsinch east via city centre and railway station to St Luke's Hospital west.

The cash fare (as of March 2021) is €2 adult and €1.20 child; by TFI Leap Card it's €1.40 adult and 84c child.

Route maps, including stop locations, are posted on the TFI website.

By taxi

Taxis are available throughout the city, with ranks at the railway station and many other spots.

Fares are nationally regulated and taxis must use the meter. As of March 2021, fares M-Sa 08:00 to 20:00 are €3.80 flagfall then €1.14-1.50 per km, 20:00 to 08:00 and Sunday €4.20 flagfall then €1.45-1.80 per km. In slow traffic or if asked to wait they charge by the minute, 40-50 cents. The main operators are Martin Butler Kilkenny Taxi (+353 87 7777 677) and Sevens Taxi (+353 56 777 7777).

Also useful to know when trying to hail one in a downpour: Saint Fiacre of Breuil (600 – 670) probably governed his first monastery nearby at Bennetsbridge, before moving to France, becoming the patron saint of taxi-drivers, and giving his name to the fiacre carriage.

By bicycle

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.

See

City centre

Most sights are along the "Medieval Mile" 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 Castle, The Parade R95 YRK1, ☏ +353 56 770 4100. Daily 09:30-17:00. Splendid Norman castle, built from 1195 to control the river ford, and the powerbase of the Butler dynasty. It was restored in the 19th century, so the interiors are mostly Victorian. You can self-tour, or for an extra €4 join the guided tour. Self-tour adult €8, conc €6, child free. (updated Feb 2021)
  • The Castle Gardens are an extensive woodland park, free to stroll anytime. The canal is their northern boundary, another pleasant strolling area. This was built from 1755 to bypass a non-navigable stretch of the river but was never completed.
  • National Design & Craft Centre, Castle Yard, Parade Gardens (opposite Castle), ☏ +353 56 772 2118, ✉ info@kilkennydesign.com. W-Sa 11:00-17:00, Su 12:00-17:00. Craft gallery within the elegant former stables of the castle, built 1800. Rotating exhibitions, they don't have a permanent collection. The stables block also houses a foodhall and restaurant, see Eat. Free. (updated Feb 2021)
  • Butler House on Patrick St near the castle is now an upscale hotel, see Sleep.
  • 2 Black Abbey, Abbey St. Founded in 1225, this impressive Dominican Abbey became a courthouse after the Dissolution then was wrecked by Cromwell. It was rebuilt from 1866 and remains an active RC church, with beautiful stained glass windows. It was built just outside the city walls in order to serve both the Anglo-Norman population within and the Irish very much without. Some 200 m east along Abbey St / Sráid Na Mainistreach is Black Freren Gate, the last surviving gate of those walls. Free. (updated Feb 2021)
  • 3 Rothe House & Garden, 15–16 Parliament St R95 P89C, ☏ +353 56 772 2893. Tu-Su 11:00-18:00. Well-preserved Tudor merchant's home built between 1594 and 1610. It comprises three houses, three cobbled courtyards and a half-acre restored Tudor garden. It stands on a "burgage plot," a long narrow strip of rented land, and houses Kilkenny Archaeological Society's history museum and archive library. Adult €7.50, conc €6.50, child free. (updated Feb 2021)
  • Smithwick's Experience, 44 Parliament St R95 VK54 (opposite Rothe House), ☏ +353 56 778 6377. Daily Mar-Oct 10:00-18:00, Nov-Feb 11:00-17:00. Guided tour of the former brewery, usually on the hour. It may have been Ireland's first, as Franciscan monks brewed here from 1221 to 1537 when the monastery was dissolved (no, not in the beer). John Smithwick founded his brewery here in 1705, but his ownership had to be kept quiet until 1782 when Catholics were again allowed to own property. It remained a family firm until 1964 then was taken over by Guinness, now part of Diageo, and other beers in their range were for a time brewed here. The brewery closed in 2013 and became the council offices and courtrooms, but a small part of it has been turned into this visitor centre. Smithwick's Ales are now brewed in Dublin. Adult €13 (online €11.70), child €7. (updated Feb 2021)
  • The Courthouse on Parliament St (opposite Rothe House) is built over "Grace's Old Castle" of 1210. That was owned by the powerful de Gras, later Grace, family and morphed into a residence and later the county jail and courtroom. It was still in use as the town "nick" or bridewell until 1946, and today houses the Circuit and District Courts. Just admire the exterior, you can't go in unless you're already in trouble.
  • 4 St Canice's Cathedral & Round Tower, Coach Rd, Irishtown R95 V63H, ☏ +353 56 776 4971. M-Sa 10:00-18:00, Su 13:00-18:00. This C of I cathedral was built, caved in and was rebuilt in the 13th century, but the 9th century Round Tower indicates its much longer history. It's Ireland's second-largest church, surpassed only by Dublin's St Patrick's, of similar date and style. Cromwell trashed it through force of habit but it was rebuilt from the 19th century, retaining many medieval features. The tower, outside in the graveyard, can be ascended by adults up steep ladders. Tower adult €6. (updated Feb 2021)
  • 5 St Canice's Church, Dean St, Irishtown. This RC church has a lovely facade and was built by 1827. (updated Feb 2021)
  • 6 St Mary's Cathedral, James St. This is the Roman Catholic cathedral for the city, built 1842-57 in limestone in English Gothic style. It's on the highest point in the city so its tower is a prominent landmark. (updated Feb 2021)
  • 7 Tholsel, High St. This arcaded structure built in 1761 is the town hall. Look out for the city's coat of arms over the lowest arch. A tholsel was a tolls hall, a mix of tax collection, courtroom, guildhall and city chambers. They're almost unique to Ireland and only a handful are intact. (updated Feb 2021)
  • The Slips are the medieval alleys perpendicular to High Street. The best example is Butter Slip next to the Tholsel, leading down to St Kieran's St. Built in 1616, it was the market for butter vendors.
  • The Hole in the Wall is an arts venue and former tavern within a 1582 townhouse, occasionally open for tours. It's off High St facing St Mary's Lane, just south of the Tholsel.
  • Medieval Mile Museum, 2 St Mary's Lane (off High St behind Tholsel), ☏ +353 56 781 7022. Daily 10:00–18:00. Modern museum within the former St Mary's Church, built 1205, displays medieval / Renaissance sculpture and tombs. Adult €7. (updated Feb 2021)
  • 8 Talbot Tower built in 1207 is the only remaining bastion of the city walls. It's been restored but you can't go in. It's on Lower New St, corner with Ormonde Rd.
  • 9 St Kieran's College was founded in 1782 at what is now St Mary's Cathedral; the present grand Gothic building on College Rd was erected 1811-45. It was a seminary until 1994 and is now a secondary school. The buildings are private but you can admire the exterior.
  • 10 Church of St John the Evangelist, Dublin Rd. Daily 08:00-18:00. Ornate RC church in Gothic Revival style, completed in 1908. It has a soaring interior but the frontage is curiously stubby, as the tower never acquired its second stage and spire. (updated Mar 2021)
  • 11 St John's Priory, John St (corner of Michael St). The abbey or priory was founded in 1220 by the Augustinians, with the Lady Chapel added in 1290. They must have been a colourful bunch, experiencing jail, excommunication and structural collapse long before the Dissolution. The priory fell derelict in the 18th century, and much of it was demolished in 1780, with the stone re-cycled into a barracks. The Church of Ireland (Protestant) took over the site in 1817, re-roofed the Lady Chapel and created a parish church, which remains active. In the grounds are the ruins of the 13th century former chapel, with tombs and carvings. (updated Mar 2021)
  • 12 County Hall, John St. This fine seven-bay, three-storey Georgian building was built in 1782 to house a school, replacing a building of 1667. It suffered a serious fire in 1980: the school later moved away to modern premises and since 1994 it's been the county admin offices. Just admire the exterior unless you're here to lodge a planning application or complain about the rural rubbish bin collections. (updated Mar 2021)
  • 13 Maudlin Tower, 30 Maudlin St R95 Y8NE. This tall tower was built in the early 16th century to guard a hospital, founded circa 1327 a little distance from the city. There were high walls and gated access to keep patients in and the hoi-poi out, because this was a leper-hospital. Leprosy, now called Hansen's disease, did (and still does) occur in Ireland but the term was a catch-all for any disfiguring and potentially contagious chronic disease. The biggest threat was Black Death - plague - but that killed swiftly. So you might find yourself cooped up here with a bad bout of scabies, psoriasis or syphilis. Some inmates enjoyed rich furnishings and diet, and perhaps were members of important families who'd become embarrassing in their dotage. The hospital had its own farm, and was associated with St John's Priory, but abandoned at the Dissolution. The tower is well-preserved but there's no interior access, and the rest of the hospital has gone. (updated Mar 2021)

Further out

  • 14 Dunmore Cave, Castlecomer Rd, Dunmore R95 A972 (11 km north of Kilkenny off N78), ☏ +353 56 776 7726, ✉ dunmorecaves@opw.ie. Daily Mar-May, Oct 09:30-17:00, Jun-Sept 09:30-18:00, Nov-Feb 09:30-15:00. Show cave in an outcrop of Lower Carboniferous limestone, about 400 m in extent and descending 46 m. It's richly decorated with calcite formations, the most ornate being the 6 m "Market Cross". By guided tour only. The cave was the site of a massacre by the Vikings in 928 AD, according to The Annals of the Four Masters written 700 years later. Many human remains have indeed been found here, mostly women and children, plus a hoard of silver and bronze dated to 970 AD. Adult €5, conc €4, child €3. (updated Mar 2021)
  • 15 Jenkinstown Park (10 km north of Kilkenny, enter via N78 or N77). Car park daily 09:30-17:00. The forested park is a nice place for a walk or a picnic; it's muddy after wet weather and the deer expect to be fed. In April the forest is carpeted by bluebells. It was laid out in the 1870s as the grounds of the Bryan-Bellew Estate, and some original trees survive. Most of the castle has been demolished, but a few scraps remain, with some remnants incorporated into a modern mansion. Thomas Moore (1779-1852) wrote the poem The Last Rose of Summer while staying at Jenkinstown House in 1805. This was the forerunner of a wave of traditional Irish melodies given English lyrics, as popular as it was maudlin, with dozens of settings, literary references and translations. Japanese schoolchildren dutifully learned it as Niwa-no-Chigusa (庭の千草), "The Plants in the Garden". Free. (updated Mar 2021)
  • 16 Tullaroan has the ruins of a medieval church. It's 14 km west of the city.
  • 17 Bennettsbridge is a village 6 km south of the city where the main sight is the bridge itself, built early 19th century.
  • 18 Kells Priory, Kellsborough (10 km south of Kilkenny), ☏ +353 56 772 8255. 24 hours. This Augustinian Priory founded in 1193 is one of the most intact in Ireland, not least because it was fortified with stout walls and towers after two or three destructions. Most of the remains are within the inner monastic precinct; beyond, Burgess Court is the walled field which today holds sheep, as it probably did back then. There's parking right by the priory but it's more attractive to approach along the riverside from Mullin's Mills. This isn't the place with the beautifully decorated Book of Kells - that's in County Meath and the Book is in TCD Library, Dublin. "Kells" or "Kil-" indicates the cell or abode of a monk, which would later become the site of a church and settlement, so it's a common placename. Free. (updated Mar 2021)
  • Kilree 2 km south of Kells Priory has a Round Tower and High Cross.
  • 19 Callan has a Norman Motte-and-bailey and the ruin of an Augustinian Friary. 500 m west of village centre on R695 is the childhood home of Edmund Rice, founder of the Christian Brothers. It's open M-F 10:00-17:00, Sa 10:00-14:00. Find more of his legacy in Waterford.
  • 20 Gowran is a little village 10 km east of Kilkenny. The main sight is St Mary's Collegiate Church, part ruin, part restored and in use. It was founded in 1312 over a pre-Christian site - the Ogham stone is 3rd / 4th century. A "collegiate church" doesn't have a permanent priest, but staff at the seminary take turns. Gowran Castle dates from 1713 and was restored in 2013, it's a private residence. Gowran Park is a racecourse 500 m south of the village, with both flat racing and National Hunt.

Do

  • What's on? - tune into KCLR on 96 FM for news and events, or read Kilkenny People or Kilkenny Now.
  • Craft Council of Ireland, Castle Yard (Opposite Castle, behind Kilkenny Design Craft Centre), ☏ +353 56 776-1804, fax: +353 56 776-3754, ✉ info@ccoi.ie. 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. 
  • Watergate Theatre, Parliament St, ☏ +353 56 776 1674, ✉ info@watergatetheatre.com. The town's main theatre has shows or music most nights of the week. (updated Feb 2021)
  • Riverside walks follow the west bank of the Nore, upstream for 6 km to the weir, and downstream for 11 km to Maddockstown.

Tours

  • Kilkenny City Tours pootle around town in a black and amber road train, Mar-Oct 10:00-17:00, taking 25 min and starting from the Parade outside the Castle.
  • Kilkenny Walking Tours are hour-long walks of the old centre, mid-Mar - Sept M-Sa 11:00 and 14:00, starting from the Tourist Office on High St. Adult €10.
  • Boat trips tour along the River Nore. In 2021 they're only available to private "bubble" family groups.

Sports

  • Gaelic games: Hurling is the dominant sport in this area, and the county team Kilkenny GAA are the perennial Irish champions. Their home ground is Nowlan Park, capacity 27,800, 500 m east of town centre.
  • Golf: Kilkenny Golf Club is on Glendine Rd 1 km north of town centre. It's a parkland course, white tees 5921 m, par 71, visitor round €30-40.
Pococke Golf Centre has a beginner's course, 3, 12 or 18 hole. It's on Johnswell Rd 1.5 km northeast of town centre beyond the bypass N77. There's also a driving range in New Park.
  • Horse racing: the race track is at Gowran, see above.
  • Skydive at Irish Skydiving Club, based at Kilkenny Airport 3 km west of town centre, on Airfield Rd, Holdensrath Y6VA.

Events

  • Rhythm and Roots Festival covers many genres including Folk, Blues, Rockabilly, Americana and Rock n Roll. It's usually in May but was cancelled in 2020 and 2021, and dates for 2022 are tba.
  • The Cat Laughs is a comedy festival over the first weekend in June, multiple venues, and drawing many famous acts. There's also a film section, Kitty Flicks, and a soccer match between the Irish comedians and those from the rest of the world. The next event is 3-11 June 2021, tbc.
  • Kilkenny Arts Festival is held over ten days in August, with music, exhibitions and talks, multiple venues. Dates for 2021 are tba.

Buy

  • The main retail strip is High St. 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.
  • Farmers Market is held on Mayor's Walk by the castle, Th 09:30-14:30.
  • 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), ☏ +353 56 772-2258. M-Sa 09:30-18:00. Stockists of a large array of giftware, cookware, bedlinen and other household accessories over two floors. 
  • 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), ☏ +353 56 775-2666, fax: +353 56 775-2668, ✉ lesley.cleere@marketcross.ie. 

Handcrafted goods

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, ☏ +353 56 772-7456, fax: +353 56 772-7329, ✉ ches@indigo.ie. For over 30 years, French designer Edmond Chesneau has been creating stylish handbags in Kilkenny. 
  • Jerpoint Glass Studio and Gallery, Stoneyford, ☏ +353 56 772-4350, ✉ enquiries@jerpointglass.com. M-Sa 10:00-18:00, Su 12:00-17:00. A family-run glass studio making handmade items since 1979. 
  • Moth to a Flame, Bennettsbridge, ☏ +353 56 772-7826. 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, ☏ +353 56 772-7505. 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. 

Eat

  • Gourmet Store is a cafe at 56 High St open M-Sa 08:00-17:30.
  • Pantry Patisserie on St Kieran's St is open M-Sa 09:00-18:00, Su 10:00-17:00.
  • The Grapevine, 6 Rose Inn St R95 DH59, ☏ +353 56 771 2956. Th F Su 17:00-20:00, Sa 12:00-20:00. Tapas bar serving wine and world beers. Live music most weekends. (updated Feb 2021)
  • Kilkenny Design Centre has a pleasant cafe, see Buy.
  • Kyteler's Inn, Kieran St R95 RP40, ☏ +353 56 772 1064. Daily 12:00-21:00. Medieval pub with good beer, food and atmosphere, trad music most nights. But it's best known as the home of Alice Kyteler (1263-13??), one of the first people in Europe to be accused of witchcraft - most persecutions came 300 years later. She was the daughter of Flemish merchants, and her husbands kept dying on her, while her wealth mysteriously grew. However those accusations of foul play came way down the charge sheet, which listed all sort of diabolical hocus-pocus. Her most shocking alleged deeds involved a manifestation of the devil called Robin Artisson, quendam demonem incubum concubuisse cum ea, which you can really only get away with in Galway or Gomorrah. She may have been a pawn in a power struggle between secular and church jurisdiction, in which the church prevailed by torturing her servant Petronella into a confession. Kyteler fled to England and disappeared, so (not to waste a good confession) Petronella was burnt at the stake instead. (updated Mar 2021)
  • La Rivista, 22 Parliament St R95 FH29, ☏ +353 56 777 1666. M-Sa 17:00-22:00, Su 12:30-21:00. Slick central Italian restaurant. (updated Feb 2021)
  • Rafter's, 4 Friary St R95 VY62, ☏ +353 56 772 2970. Daily 09:30-23:30. Good friendly pub with bar food. They also have basic rooms. (updated Feb 2021)
  • Marble City Bar and Tearooms, 66 High St R95 TY24, ☏ +353 56 776 1143. M-F 08:30-16:30, Sa Su 09:30-16:30. Stylish licensed cafe for breakfast or lunch. (updated Feb 2021)
  • Rinuccini, 1 The Parade R95 XKR7, ☏ +353 56 776 1575, ✉ info@rinuccini.com. M-Sa 12:00-14:30, 17:00-22:00, Su 12:00-21:00. Swish Italian restaurant opposite the castle, pricey but glowing reviews for what you get. (updated Feb 2021)
  • Zuni, 26 Patrick St R95 A897, ☏ +353 56 772 3999. Daily 12:30-15:00, 17:00-22:00. Great stylish restaurant, the early bird is excellent value. They're also a hotel but it's the food that gets the rave reviews. B&B double €100. (updated Feb 2021)
  • 1 Campagne, The Arches, 5 Gas House Ln, Highhays, Kilkenny, R95 X092, ☏ +353 56 777 2858, ✉ info@campagne.ie. Campagne is a high-quality member of Kilkenny's restaurant scene, the only Michelin-star awarded restaurant in Kilkenny City. (updated Mar 2021)

Drink

  • Kilkenny beer and Smithwick's ale originated here. They're nowadays owned by Guinness / Diageo and brewed in Dublin.
  • Parliament St is the area for quiet traditional pubs, while John St draws the younger clubbing crowd. Pubs are usually open to 23:30.
  • Cleere’s Bar and Theatre, 28 Parliament St R95 YR61, ☏ +353 56 776 2573. Su-Th 11:00-23:30, F Sa 11:00-00:30. Very popular bar with shows and gigs in its small theatre out back. Good range of bar food. (updated Mar 2021)
  • The Field, 2 High St R95 W429, ☏ +353 56 770 2763, ✉ thefieldbar@yahoo.ie. M-F 12:00-14:00, Sa Su 11:00-02:00. Cozy pub and restaurant with late bar. (updated Mar 2021)
  • Left Bank, 1 The Parade R95 HY09, ☏ +353 56 775 0016, ✉ info@leftbank.ie. Daily 12:00-21:00. It's here because the bank left - stunningly decorated bar in Victorian former B of I building. (updated Mar 2021)
  • Matt the Millers, 1 Lower John St R95 PY7D, ☏ +353 56 776 1696, ✉ info@mattthemillers.com. Daily 11:00-23:30. Popular multi-floor pub and restaurant just east of bridge. (updated Mar 2021)
  • The Pumphouse, 26 Parliament St VW31, ☏ +353 56 776 3924. Su-Th 12:00-23:30, F Sa 12:00-00:30. Great pub for a quiet drink during the week. Can be very busy on weekends. Shows live sport. (updated Mar 2021)
  • Paris Texas, 2 High St, Collegepark R95 V6TE, ☏ +353 56 776 1822, ✉ info@paristexas.ie. M-F 12:00-21:30, Sa Su 10:30-21:30. Lively bar and restaurant 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. (updated Feb 2021)
  • Nightclubs: Langtons is within Langton House Hotel, and O'Faolain's is within Kilford Arms, see Sleep.

Sleep

Budget

  • Kilkenny Tourist Hostel, 35 Parliament St R95 VW93, ☏ +353 56 776-3541, ✉ info@kilkennyhostel.ie. Double/twin from €18pp and dorms from €14pp. (updated Jul 2017)
  • MacGabhainns Backpackers Hostel, 24 Vicar St R95 HX81 (near St Canice's Cathedral and Round Tower), ☏ +353 56 777 0970. Dorms from €15. (updated Jul 2017)
  • 1 Nore Valley Park, Annamult Rd, Bennettsbridge R95 RXR4 (11 km south of town), ☏ +353 56 772 7229, ✉ camping@norevalleypark.com. Well-run camping and caravan site open Mar-Oct. It's on a working farm by River Nore, pet-friendly. 2-person tent €10, caravan €15. (updated Feb 2021)
  • 2 Tree Grove Camping (Kilkenny Camping), Danville House, Newross Rd (on R700), ☏ +353 56 777 0302, ✉ info@kilkennycamping.com. Well-kept campsite open Mar-mid Nov with glamping pods. Two adults €20-25, pods €80. (updated Feb 2021)

Mid-range

  • Club House Hotel, 22 Lower Patrick St R95 PX68, ☏ +353 56 772 1994. Georgian building under conservation orders, so no lift and some fittings small and dated, but very clean and central. B&B double €80. (updated Feb 2021)
  • Butler Court is a small B&B off Patrick St.
  • Fanad House, Castle Rd R95 YF98, ☏ +353 56 776 4126. Clean spacious B&B next to Castle Park. B&B double €100. (updated Feb 2021)
  • Celtic House is a welcoming B&B at 18 Michael St.
  • Kilford Arms Hotel, 32 Upper John St R95 YND8, ☏ +353 56 776 1018. Central comfy mid-range place. B&B double €90. (updated Feb 2021)
  • Kilkenny Inn, 15-16 Vicar St R95 NR20, ☏ +353 56 777 2828. Very central comfy place, great service. B&B double €100. (updated Feb 2021)
  • Langton House Hotel, 67 John St Lower R95 XN44, ☏ +353 56 776 5133. Good mid-price hotel in town centre. B&B double €100. (updated Feb 2021)
  • Rosquil House, Castlecomer Rd R95 P962, ☏ +353 56 772 1419. Pleasant friendly B&B open Feb-Dec, gets great reviews. B&B double £100. (updated Feb 2021)
  • 3 Hoban Hotel (formerly Aspect), Springhill R95 XV2D (on retail park south of N10 ring road), ☏ +353 56 778 3100. Modern edge-of-town hotel with bright, spacious rooms with free Wi-Fi and parking. B&B double from €90. (updated Feb 2021)
  • 4 Newlands Lodge, Kells Rd R95 TD8C (5 km south of town on R697), ☏ +353 56 772 9862. Charming welcoming B&B in country south of town. B&B double €90. (updated Feb 2021)

Splurge

  • Kilkenny Ormonde Hotel, Ormonde St R95 Y5CX, ☏ +353 56 775 0200, fax: +353 56 772 3977, ✉ reservations@kilkennyormonde.com. Good hotel, but some rooms are only so-so. Has a leisure club with swimming pool. B&B double €100. (updated Feb 2021)
  • Butler House, 16 Patrick St R95 YY43, ☏ +353 56 772 2828. Charming upscale townhouse near castle. B&B double €140. (updated Feb 2021)
  • Newpark Hotel, Castlecomer Rd R95 KP63, ☏ +353 56 776 0500, ✉ reservations@newparkhotel.com. Comfy four-star hotel with a spa and swimming pool, about 1 km north of town centre. Part of Flynn chain who also have hotels in CorkDungarvan and Ennis. B&B double €150. (updated Feb 2021)
  • Pembroke Hotel, 11 Patrick St R95 VNP4, ☏ +353 56 778 3500. Great location near Castle, large stylish rooms. B&B double €170. (updated Feb 2021)
  • Rivercourt Hotel, Lower John St YR95 104, ☏ +353 56 772 3388. Plush hotel on the riverbank with great views of the Castle. B&B double €150. (updated Feb 2021)
  • 5 Hotel Kilkenny, College Rd R95 XD74 (off N76 southwest edge of town), ☏ +353 56 776 2000. Smart modern hotel, handy for motorists, with leisure centre and pool. B&B double €100. (updated Feb 2021)
  • 6 Lyrath Estate Hotel, Dublin Rd, Lyrath R95 F685 (off R712, no access from bypass N10), ☏ +353 56 776 0088. Upscale hotel with extensive grounds, spa and good restaurant, hosts a lot of weddings. B&B double €170. (updated Feb 2021)

Stay safe

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, ☏ +353 56 772-2222, fax: +353 56 775-1507. 
  • St. Luke's General Hospital, ☏ +353 56 778-5000, fax: +353 56 772-1149. 

Connect

As of Feb 2021, Kilkenny has 5G from Eir and Three, and 4G from Vodafone.

Go next

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


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