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Kilkenny Castle Tips (39)

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle was the first castle of many that we visited on our trip, at the time we did not realize that most of the sights included on the Heritage Card were supposed to have guided tours, they discontinued them here which sent an Italian tour guide near us into a tizzy. The Italian students she was with, however, didn't seem to care at all, most of them rushing through like there was a competition to see who could get done first.

They did give us a photocopied sheet containing information on each room, in some ways I prefer that to a guided tour as I get to take the information home with me and I can go at my own pace and didn't have to wait until an official tour started. The attached website goes into even greater detail if you want to read up before you go. No interior photos are allowed which is why I don't have any. Except that one I took before I saw the no photo sign...

Kilkenny Castle was built in the 12th century for William Marshal, 4th Earl of Pembroke and later became the principal residence for the Butler family for almost 600 years until 1971 when it was given to the people of Kilkenny for a token sum of £50.

Most of the castle was renovated in the 19th century and the room that impressed me most in the castle only dates back to the 19th century, the Picture Gallery Wing. The walls are covered in paintings but what is really striking is the painted ceiling and the cross beams with gilded animal heads.

I understand that there are gardens behind the castle but when I went to look around the backside of the castle the rain changed from a vertical to a horizontal position and we decided to look for a drier place to hang out for a bit.

Admission to the castle was included on the Heritage Card.

Dabs's Profile Photo
Aug 30, 2009


The original Anglo-Norman stone castle was the work of Norman Knight - Richard De Clare who was nick-named Strongbow. Strongbow was one of the Knights who helped Henry II of England seize control of some regions of Ireland from 1171 onwards. It would have been him who had the sod built structure and sections of a large earthen rampart built, found in later years and believed to pre-date the stone building.
When he died 4 years later, his land was passed onto his daughter's husband - William Marshal, 4th Earl of Pembroke (c.1146-1219) who around 1209, started to rebuild Kilkenny Castle where the wooden castle had once stood (it had since been burned to the ground).

Kilkenny Castle became the principal Irish residence of the Butler family for almost 600 years. James Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormond, purchased the castle in.1391, the last Butler was Arthur, 6th Marquess of Ormonde (1893-1971), who presented it to the people of Kilkenny in return for a token payment of £50.

In 1307, Kilkenny Castle had a hall, four towers, a chapel, moat and other houses, this confirmed it was a 'keep-less castle' similar to other Royal Castles in Ireland. Instead of having one massive Tower/Keep, it had four towers encircled by a wall and moat. Three Towers enormous towers still stand.
Features of the Castle from early times can still be seen. The building of a rectangular tower is possibly from this early period. The Castle is interesting as it was built in a few different Irish architectural styles ranging from the stone built, moated Norman fortress to the impressive 17th century Classical gateway. The 18th century saw elegant, crescent shaped stables built, and the 19th century rebuilding in Castellated Baronial style with Gothic motifs. Above the Entrance gate is the Butler family crest.

I think its an impressive Castle, one well worth seeing!
I was able to see both the exterior and interior, my only complaint was no photos allowed of the interior.

balhannah's Profile Photo
Mar 23, 2016

A Must See

The amazing Kilkenny Castle is a must see. William the Earl Marshall built the first stone castle on the site, which was completed in 1213. This was a square-shaped castle with towers at each corner; three of the original four towers survive to this day. The Butler family bought the Castle in 1391 and their descendants lived there until 1935. Something you learn on the guided tour is most of the furnishings were sold at an auction. The city bought the castle in 1967 for 50 pounds!

Kilkenny Castle has daily guided tours, which run roughly an hour. Admission is € 5 for an adult. Reserve your space for the tour when you first get to Kilkenny due to time slots fill up quickly. Cameras are not allowed inside the castle and you will be directed to place your camera and large bags in the free coat check.

The guide will point out items that were originally sold at auction that were purchased back. You are taken through many of the rooms and even one of the servants staircases. It was very interesting and I learned a lot that about the castle.

After the tour, be sure to tour the grounds and check out the family burial plot. The tombstone for the family dog is more elaborate than the family's!

ErinInMD's Profile Photo
Jun 19, 2005

Kilkenny Castle

A first castle was build at this site in 12th century, which later was remodelled. It was the principal seat of the Butler family who lived there for over 500 years.

The castle can be visited (admission 5 Euro for adults), but as we’ve been there in the evening it was already closed. Also the park of the castle had been closed, what a pity! So we could only get an impression on the castle from outside, it looks quite huge!

himalia11's Profile Photo
Oct 03, 2004
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The magnificent Kilkenny Castle is a 12th century castle, once home of the Butler family, Marquesses and Dukes of Ormonde. The Castle overlooks the River Nore where once an important river crossing stood for more than 900 years.

Surrounding the Castle are lawns with gardens, a rose garden and ornamental lake plus pathways through the woodlands. The entrance near the Parade Tower has 19th century cast iron gates that came originally from Saint Stephen's Green. The castle has a formal garden with axial paths radiating from a central fountain which is thought to be sitting on the base of the original 17th century water feature.
I noticed two lead statues on pedestals near the castle, one is of Hermes after the original in the Vatican Collection, and the other is of Diana the Huntress. All of the garden features have been recently restored.

Two wings of the castle which include a library, drawing room and Long Gallery have been restored to how they looked in the 19th Century. A suite of former servants rooms now houses the Butler Art Gallery, which exhibits changing exhibitions of contemporary art. We enjoyed our time exploring Kilkenny Castle. I was disappointed that I couldn't take photos as I really would have liked one of the large Portrait room which was the size of a Ballroom and "very" different.

Your allowed to explore the castle on your own complete with an information sheet. If you can't find the answer on this, then ask one of the Castle's information officers who should know the answer to any questions.

CASTLE TOURS - These begin at the gateway to the courtyard. The guidebook follows the tour, room by room and also covers medieval spaces and features beneath the ground floor of the present building.

October to February - 9.30 to 16.30
March - 9.30 to 17.00
April and May - 9.30 to 17.30
June to August - 9.00 to 17.30
September - 9.30 to 17.30.
During the rest of the year, visits to the Castle are via a self-guided tour. Audio-guides in English are available.closed on Good Friday
Check website for Christmas opening and New Year opening times.

NO ENTRY 45 minutes before closing time.

Adult: €7
Senior / Group (20+): €5
Student / Child (over 6): €3
Family: €17.

ALLOW approximately 45 minutes


Audio-Visual Presentation: 12 minutes - English. Located in the Medieval Room
Information Pamphlet: Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian & Spanish.
Audio-Guide: English
Guide Book: English, Irish, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Polish
Tea Rooms: Situated in the Castle's Victorian Kitchen with its original cooking range and rows of copper pots. Castle's Opening Hours.
Access for visitors with disabilities to ground floor and the gardens only

balhannah's Profile Photo
Mar 23, 2016

Kilkenny Castle, An Easy walk From Town

We walked up to the castle, it is only 10 minutes from the town centre and a fine example of how life was hundreds of years ago.

For those who wish to tour the castle there is an entry charge. We enjoyed walking through the extensive gardens and woodlands and enjoying the magnificent view over the River Nore and town.

Mikebb's Profile Photo
May 08, 2009

Great Castle Tour, right in Town!

Much of this castle is beautifully restored, with original furnishings. Before it was restored, it had fallen into a bad state. They show that on the tour. I enjoyed the largest room,which has the tallest ceiling and old, old tapestries and oil paintings of former residents hanging. When the weather was too foul to walk outside, they would stroll in this room! The guide said that once a year they would invite the common townspeople into this room, to walk and gawk. The tour is very good & was worth the 5 Euro price.

You may walk around the large grounds without charge.

In the lower level of the castle there was a small art gallery, with modern art! The small gift shop is pretty good, too., the theme being Irish castles, of course.

LauraWest's Profile Photo
Aug 27, 2007


William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke started to build the castle in 1195 in order to control a fording point at the River Nore and some road junctions. It took 18 years to complete. The castle has 4 huge circular towers and a massive ditch for defensive purposes. In 1967 the castle was transferred to the people of Kilkenny for the sum of 50 pounds and now the Public Works Office manages the castle and grounds. Although it is a wonderful building i was expecting a castle with cannons, dungeons, ramparts etc but this castle is more like a stately home. In 1391 James Butler purchased the castle and became ruler of the area. The Butler family resided in the castle for 600 years until in 1935. There are some beautiful gardens by the castle that are open to the public.

davidjo's Profile Photo
Aug 04, 2015

Top 5 Kilkenny Writers

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"Kilkenny-1st stop on our Ireland adventure"
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"County Kilkenny"
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kilkenny castle

kilkenny castle is the top tourist attaction in kilkenny. built in the 1190's. the powerful butler family lived in the castle from the 14th century until 1935. the achitecture of the castle is medieval but over the years the butlers made some gothic revival changes. the castle is open to the public and has interesting rooms and a fine art collection.

doug48's Profile Photo
Jul 29, 2007

Kilkenny Castle

One of the most magnificent castles in Ireland, Kilkenny Castle was built by the Normans who arrived in the city during the 12th century.
Set in beautiful grounds next to the river Nore, the castle is well worth a visit. And it kept me out of the pub for a bit too!
Opening Times :
October to March Daily 10.30am to 5.00pm (Closed for lunch 12.45 to 2.00pm) April - May Daily - 10.30am to 5.00pm. June -August Daily 9.30am to 7.00pm. September Daily - 10am to 6.30pm.
Adult:€ 5 Senior/group(20+): €3.50 Student/child: €2 Family: €11

sirenna's Profile Photo
Apr 28, 2006

Without a Tour

We arrived in Kilkenny for lunch but we did not have time to do a tour of the castle which was first occupied when Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, commonly known as Strongbow constructed the first castle, probably a wooden structure, in the 12th century. The original Anglo-Norman stone castle was built for William Marshal, 4th Earl of Pembroke (c.1146-1219) during the first decade of the thirteenth century.

The best we could do was to walk around outside and a little bit inside. There are ornamental gardens on the city side of the castle, and extensive land and gardens to the front. We didn't get to see much of the interior - I understand the restored area in the central block includes a library, drawing room, and bedrooms decorated in 1830's style, as well as the Long Gallery. A suite of former servant's rooms is the Butler Art Gallery

Access for visitors with disabilities to ground floor and the gardens only

Admission Fees

Adult: €6.00
Senior / Group (20+): €4.00
Student / Child (over 6): €2.50
Family: €14.00

Opening Hours

Oct. - Feb: Daily 09.30 - 16.30
Please note: The Ticket Desk will be closed from 1 to 2pm on Saturdays & Sundays until January 31st. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

March: Daily 09.30 - 17.00

April - May: Daily 09.30 - 17.30

June - Aug. Daily 09.00 - 17.30

Sept. Daily 09.30 - 17.30

Closed on Good Friday.

Last admission 30 minutes before closing

Average Length of Visit: 1 hour

To join a talk in the Long Gallery as part of your visit, please check with site for daily schedule.

grandmaR's Profile Photo
Jan 30, 2011

Kilkenny castle.

Built on a superb site along the River Nore from 1192 to 1207 to replace an earlier wood and stone one, by the first Earl of Pembroke, and then Guillaume de Clare,three of the original corner towers are still standing. The French influence can be seen in the main garden in front of the building. Sold on to the Butler family in 1381, it remained their property until 1967, although they had already moved out and sold the contents in the '30's. Although extensions had been added and restoration done the castle gradually deteriorated. Sold for a token £50 it is now maintained by the State, and holds regular exhibitions. The gardens and park behind are open to the public freely. Opening times etc can be found on the official site below.

pfsmalo's Profile Photo
Jan 02, 2013

Things To Do Near Kilkenny Castle

Things to Do

Kyteler's Inn

There sure are many pubs in this town to choose from. I loved the old building that was home to Kyteler's Inn which was founded in 1324 by dame Alice le Kyteler. The lady was born here in Kilkenny in...
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Things to Do

Kilkenny Design Centre

The National Craft Gallery is located in the Castle yard, once home to the stables and coach houses of the historic Kilkenny Castle. The imposing stable yard is a crescent-shaped building with...
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Things to Do

Kilkenny Courthouse

The courthouse was originally constructed in the 13th century by the wealthy Grace family who resided in it until in 1566, James Grace, the Governor of Ireland leased it to the state. It was used as a...
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Things to Do

Saint Canice's Cathedral

Unfortunately i did not have time to go into the cathedral as the time allotted on our bus tour just wasn't enough for this lovely city. There has been a church on this site since the 6th century when...
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Things to Do

Bishop's Palace

The Bishop's Palace was built from grey hewn stone in 1741. The Palace was designed by Anglo-German architect Richard Castles, with its front overlooking the town wall which he had reduced in...
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Getting to Kilkenny Castle


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  • Sunday 09:30 to 17:30
  • Monday 09:30 to 17:30
  • Tuesday 09:30 to 17:30
  • Wednesday 09:30 to 17:30
  • Thursday 09:30 to 17:30
  • Friday 09:30 to 17:30
  • Saturday 09:30 to 17:30