Located on the Nore River in the heart of Kilkenny, the castle is one of Irelands best restored fortresses.
Building began back in the 12th Century and restoration work continues today.
It is a specactular looking place, surrounded by beautiful gardens.
To explore the castle you have to do a guided tour. The tour lasts for approximately 1.5hrs, costs around 5 euro and was very informative and well worth the money.
If you are visiting Kilkenny with a car, be sure to head bout 9 miles south to Thomastown to see Jerpoint Abbey, one of my favorite places we saw on our trip to Ireland. The site was founded as a Benadictine house in 1158, the Abbey was taken over by the Cistercians around 20 years later. The oldest part of the abbey is the 12th century church, the colonnaded cloister is from the 15th century. What I particularly enjoyed about my visit was all of the carvings you could see as you walked from one section to another, there are the comical tomb carvings which drew me here after I saw a picture of them in one of my guidebooks and there are more on the columns that surround the cloister.
There was no guided tour while we were there but they do give you an information sheet that will help identify the different sections of the Abbey. Admission was included on the Heritage Card. If you have a chance to take a guided tour, you might be able to learn a little more about the carvings of which I can only speculate about their meaning.
For more photos of some of the interesting carvings, see my travelogue.
When entering the town we found it very difficult to park and drove over the bridge several times.
Once we found a parking spot we walked back over the bridge, a great place to obtain a view of the River Nore, Town Buildings and Kilkenny Castle high on the hill overlooking the town and river.
There are several beautiful old pubs nearby and the main photo is of Malt The Millers, naturally we went inside for a few minutes.
Constructed in 1761, this building has served as a place to collect tolls (thol means tax, sel means hall), a court house, custom house, and guildhall before it became Kilkenny's town hall. It was destroyed by fire in the 1980s but has since been restored. It now houses the municipal archives, we wandered in the front door but there was really nothing to see.
Alice Kyteler's maid Petronilla was burned at the stake on the spot where the building stands in 1324.
The 2nd picture is of the city's coat of arms that you can see on the side of the building, enlarge it to see the archers on the top of the castle and the guy in the middle who I think is holding a mace.
The 13th century Black Abbey, named for the black habits that the Dominican monks who lived there wore, is one of the few medieval churches in Ireland that is owned by the Roman Catholic Church. Most of the older churches that were built by the Normans became part of the Church of Ireland when the English turned to Protestantism.
The Black Abbey is free to visit unlike it's Church of Ireland counterparts which have admission fees. Go inside to see the 15 panel stained glass window that dates from 1340.
On Abbey Street near the Black Abbey, you'll see the Black Freren Gate, the only remaining gate or entrance to the walled city. The city walls, built around 1300, formed three sides of defense with the river as the fourth, making the city nearly impenetrable from attack.
Kilkenny town centre is very old with narrow streets and many old , beautiful and historic buildings. Ideal streets to walk and admire the buildings, read the plaques detailing the history and use your imagination to go back centuries as to when there were dirt roads and horse and carts.
Definetly not the place to attempt to find a parking place. High Street is the main street and when you come to Rose Inn Street it will take you down to the bridge over the River Nore and some nice Irish Hotels.
This house was built between 1594 and 1610 by John Rothe a wealthy Kilkenny merchant and landowner. The building is now owned by the Kilkenny Archaeological Society and open to the public as a museum.
On display are over 2,500 artefacts which all relate to life in Kilkenny. The garden at the rear of the house was reconstructed recently as a early 17th century urban garden and is open to the public.
Open: Monday to Saturday 10:30 to 5pm. Sunday 3 to 5pm.
The old streets of Kilkenny town centre are connected by a series of alleyways. Whilst walking the city it is a nice experience to walk some of these arcades which have served the citizens for hundreds of years, well before the motor car.
Butter Slip alley was named after the butter stalls which were located here years ago. The alleyways were known as"Slips".
Actually this cave is not directly in Kilkenny, but quite close to it, about 10 km north. It’s a limestone cave with some huge stalactite and stalagmite formations. It’s not that impressive with only three halls, but which makes the visit special is the little exhibition and the audio-visual show (10 minutes). The video shows information about the formation of the cave, the flora and fauna and the history of the cave, and in the exhibition, you’ll find some more information and also bones and coins that have been found in the cave.
The cave has an old and interesting history. It was already mentioned in the 9th century in the Irish Triads, and a bit later a massacre has taken place there. It’s said that the Vikings have killed several people who hid in the cave, remains of skeletons of 44 persons (mostly women and children) have been found there. A dramatic history! In the myth, the cave is described as “the mouth of a huge beast” and if you see the entrance, you’ll understand it!
Usually, there are guided tours, but when we came, we were offered the option to wait for some more people to get a guided tour, or to explore the cave ourselves. Of course we decided to go on our own! We got a booklet in German with several information about what we will see, and could take our time to visit the cave. It’s not possible to get lost there with only three halls that can be visited, and there are no other ways you can take, so there’s nothing you have to fear! By the way, taking photos in this cave is allowed!
Open 10:00-17:00 (or longer during high season, only on weekends from November to March).
Admission: Adults 2,75 Euro, children 1,25 Euro, free if you have a Heritage Card (costs 20 Euro).
We happened to visit the cave during the Heritage Week where several sights have free admission on the two Sundays. Dunmore Cave however had free admission during the whole Heritage Week.
There is little more lovely on a hot day during an Irish Indian Summer than sitting riverside at the outdoor bar of the fabulous Kilkenny River Court Hotel. As KK has a reputation for being the sunniest and warmest city in the country you are more likely to get suitable weather here than anywhere else.
Tables are situated outside right on the riverbank and the view directly across from you is of the ancient and architecturally stunning KK Castle.
Looking downriver you have outstanding views of the bridge and, as the riverbank itself is so beautifully landscaped, you are spoiled for choice of natural beauty no matter which direction you look.
You don't need to be a resident to drink at the bar here, but it's so nice that you just might be tempted to stay on.
the rothe house was built in 1594 by the wealthy merchant john rothe. the rothe house is a combination of three elizabethan cut stone buildings divided by cobbled courtyards. the rothe house is only elizabethan merchants house in existence in ireland. today it is home to the kilkenny archaeological society and has a museum of period costumes and furniture.
KK Castle is, without a doubt, the most famous monument or structure in all of county Kilkenny. It's been perfectly preserved and the public rooms are beautifully appointed.
Even if you can't gain access to the castle itself, take a wonder through the gardens. They are equally as lovely.
There are wonderful views of the Castle from the bridge (as pictured) and from the River Court hotel on the banks of the River Nore.
I can't believe I didn't think to write this tip before now. One of the best things to do in Kilkenny is to just walk around the town's streets! Greeting people you meet and getting to know the layout of the town. I couldn't get enough of that in the days I was there. But be sure to bring enough warm clothes.
Oh, Ireland, I long to return to experience you so much more...
After leaving the castle by the Parade, cross the road and this is the High street, which is the main shopping area and also has a few of Kilkenny's monuments. First you come to the Town Hall that sits astride the walkway and St. Mary's church, not to be confused with St. Mary's cathedral, which is further along and to the left. The town hall, known as the Tolsel was built in 1579 and further extended in 1760. The clock tower on the roof is copper plated and octagonal. Under the arcade were a couple of buskers keeping warm and here apparently there are exhibitions from time to time. Although rebuilt in the 1700's St Marys was originally built in the early 13th c but has been de-consecrated since 1957. It has been bought by the Council and is part of a project to bring life back to the old stones. The graveyard holds many of the tombs of the rich merchants of Kilkenny and a tour is available by appointment with the Borough council. Just along from the town hall is Butterslip, a narrow dark alleyway that leads down to St. Kierans street. Rather picturesque, so called because of the medieval butter sellers, that came here when the passage was made in 1616.
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