Kilkenny city

Kilkenny’s medieval centrepiece
Kilkenny’s medieval centrepiece

It might be the quintessential party town, but Kilkenny has plenty of medieval mystery up its sleeve, too

Kilkenny is famous for many things: its majestic creeper-clad castle; a bustling crafts industry; cobbled lanes and secret passages; 1,000 years of history and cracking festivals.

It’s this magical combination of culture and entertainment that attracts so many people to this captivating heritage city, just 90 minutes south of Dublin.

At the heart and soul of medieval Ireland, Kilkenny is famed for its electric atmosphere played out in its maze of narrow Norman alleyways. Twisting and turning around abbeys, cathedrals and crumbling city walls, there’s even an early 13th century castle dropped in the middle of it all. It’s surrounded by beautiful gardens that attract artistic locals, giddy kids and chilled-out tourists on sunny days.

Small and beautifully formed

As cities go, it might be small, but it’s certainly big on architectural magnificence. Wander around and you’ll come across the 6th-century St Canice’s Round Tower; the 16th-century Shea Alms House; and the 18th-century Thosel, which now serves as Kilkenny’s City Hall.

A crafty trail

And with a bustling crafts scene, arts and comedy festivals, GAA hurling specialists (shout “Go the Cats” and the locals will love you), and cracking old pubs such as Tynan’s and Cleeres, it’s pretty much got everything you need for a city break.

As Michael Conway, a cardiologist and owner of the 16th-century tavern The Hole in the Wall, puts it: “The essence of the city is the living antiquity and historical lifeblood that has been preserved so magically…all mixed in with people contributing to a vibrant scene.”

Sounds good? Go the Cats…