Things to do in Kilkenny City
If you are touring Ireland's Ancient East be sure to pay a visit to Kilkenny City
– an hour's drive to the south of Dublin.This medieval city has lots of character from its winding alleys to its bustling streets and is just full of history, heritage, bars, restaurants and shops to keep you entertained! Whether you are here for a day or longer, here are some of my top picks on what to see and do in one of Ireland’s most charming and friendliest of cities! Make sure you leave plenty of time to achieve it all!
– Kilkenny City is synonymous with its famous castle which has been overlooking the River Nore for more than nine hundred years. One can only imagine what those walls have seen and heard! You can stroll through the 50 acres of beautiful lawns and gardens for free, but the castle is only accessible with a fee –more than worth it though! There is a wonderful Audio-Visual Presentation – around 12 minutes long which really illuminates the history of the castle and city, followed by an opportunity to explore the castle at your leisure. While it can get busy during the Summer months don’t let that put you off – this is one amazing castle visit which will stay with you long after you leave!
Kilkenny Design Centre
– Kilkenny is well-known for its tiny little boutiques and artisan shops where you can get everything from clothes and shoes to jewellery, ceramics and hand-made goods - all of it produced by local artists. But my top place for a bit of retail-therapy is the Kilkenny Design Centre, located right next to Kilkenny Castle. Here you will find an unrivalled selection of Irish made gifts on offer. The Centre is renown for showcasing the best of Irish produced goods and crafts and for nurturing emerging Irish craftspeople too. It is home to an award winning café style restaurant which serves delicious homemade fare daily (just in case you are feeling a bit weak and tired after all that shopping!).
- To celebrate the 300th year anniversary of the brand Smithwicks, the St. Francis Abbey Brewery now offers exclusive brewery tours. These unique tours will take visitors through the working brewery in Kilkenny and include a visit to the remarkable 12th Century St Francis Abbey which is on the brewery site. Tours operate from Tuesday to Saturday (closed Sunday and Monday) The tour takes approximately an hour and a half and includes a complimentary tasting in the brewery’s Cellar Bar. Yummy! Only in Ireland could you find a monastery within a brewery – but perhaps that’s where Smithwicks gets its heavenly taste from!
Pubs/Bars – Kilkenny is well known for its lively night-life - a popular vacation for the Irish and tourists alike. There are lots of pubs and bars which offer great live music sessions to suit all tastes! Some personal recommendations include The Pumphouse a great place to go for live music with traditional music sessions held there Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.
Another is the Marble City Bar (which is one of Kilkenny’s names) arising from the black marble found here, or Cleere’s, a comfortable pub with good seating and service. It also doubles as a contemporary music and theatre venue with great music sessions and while the weekends may prove busy as the locals would say “the craic is mighty!”
St Canice’s Cathedral and Round Tower
- An essential part of the structural heritage of the city, this ecclesiastical site was founded in the 6th century by St Canice. The Round Tower is the oldest standing structure in Kilkenny City and you can climb the Round Tower’s 121 steps and internal ladders to enjoy some great views of the city. St Canice’s Round Tower is only one of two such Round Towers in Ireland which people can climb in Ireland, so if you have the stamina and the head for heights you really should not miss the opportunity!