KILKENNY CITY GUIDE
Ireland's old medieval capital is a delightful town rich with culture and history. Perched on the banks of the River Nore, Kilkenny City has an abundance of stories to tell, all of which have shaped its narrow streets and picturesque surroundings – from the walls that circle the lengths of the old centre to the caves carved by centuries of human use. You'll find no better example of traditional Irish life than in this beautiful part of the Emerald Isle.
Here's our guide to some of the best things to do in Kilkenny City.
EXPLORING THE MEDIEVAL MILE AND KILKENNY CASTLE
At the heart of Kilkenny is the Medieval Mile, one of the most stunning stretches of road in Ireland. At one end, you'll find a pristine example of Norman architecture in the expansive Kilkenny Castle, with St Canice's Cathedral, best known for its unusual ninth century round tower, at the other. The cathedral often hosts choirs and classical concerts, while the castle is home to the Butler Gallery, which showcases works from some of the best contemporary artists in the world. Strikingly coloured townhouses line the river, including the Rothe House and Gardens, which boasts a fantastic collection of artifacts collected over many generations by the Kilkenny Archaeological Society.
IRELAND'S OLDEST OPERATING BREWERY
One of Kilkenny's many claims to fame is the oldest operating brewery in Ireland, St. Francis Abbey. In 1231, the Abbey's monks attempted to provide an alternative to the town's putrid water source by purifying water from the Abbey's well with the natural ingredients growing in the surrounding grounds. The ruins of the original 12th century Abbey can still be seen in the modern brewery set in the heart of the medieval centre. Smithwick's Experience Kilkenny offers tours of the site where its world famous beer has been in production since 1710.
GET OFF THE BEATEN TRACK BY BIKE
Cycling in Ireland is one of the best ways to discover hidden gems off the tourist trail. For a less strenuous cycle head north for a guided tour of the Dunmore Cave in Ballyfoyle. This magnificent natural wonder has been the site of many archaeological discoveries, with rock formations dating back millions of years and a storied past that includes a Viking massacre in 928 AD. For the avid cyclist, take the 65km East Kilkenny Cycle Route through the county's scattered towns, touching on the gorgeous Gowran, Graiguenamanagh, Thomastown and Bennettsbridge before circling back to the city of Kilkenny for a well-deserved brew.
ART AND CULTURE IN THE HISTORIC TOWN OF KILKENNY
Kilkenny hosts a huge number of annual events that attract top talent from across the world, giving you a taste of Edinburgh without the crowds. One such event is the revered Kilkenny Arts Festival, which has hosted everyone from Ireland's Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney to Belgium's Afro-Colombian band La Chiva Gantiva. The Cat Laughs comedy festival is also a favourite among stand-ups worldwide, while Savour Kilkenny offers up remarkable plates of food and events from international chefs. The National Craft Gallery is the city's permanent hub of contemporary art and design, providing an insight into both the traditional roots of Irish craft and the expanding barriers of the modern art scene.
Explore Ireland's marble town with P&O Ferries today by travelling via our Liverpool to Dublin ferry crossing.