Kilkenny city

It may be known for its vibrant restaurants and night-life, but Kilkenny has plenty of medieval mystery up its sleeve, too.

Kilkenny’s medieval centrepiece
Kilkenny’s medieval centrepiece

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 vibrant 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.

Think a friend might enjoy this article? Click to save and share

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, GAA hurling specialists (shout “Go the Cats” and the locals will love you), and wonderful old pubs such as Tynan’s and Cleeres, it’s pretty much got the whole city break thing covered.

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.”

Festival Fun

Mix in a festival or two and traditional music to beat the band and Kilkenny really has you covered. Be sure to check out the internationally acclaimed Sky Cat Laughs Comedy Festival that takes place the end of May or visiting during the summer enjoy a 10 day artistic extravaganza at the annual Kilkenny Arts Festival ,Ireland’s premier and oldest arts festival.

A tasty food trail

All of this is bound to see you work up some appetite so sample the delights of the local cuisine along the Taste of Kilkenny Food Trail. Enjoy fresh, local and organic produce from artisan cheese makers to chocolatiers, chickens to caviar and cute cafés to cosmopolitan city eateries and meet some of the locals along the way.

Sounds good? We think so. Go the Cats…

Vacation ideas, news, offers… sign up for our ezine and we’ll keep you in touch with Ireland.

No results match your search criteria

Need a flight or ferry?

By sea or by air, find the best route here

Find flights
Find ferries