A 12th century castle, a bustling crafts and design scene, time-honoured traditional pubs, cobbled lanes and secret alleys – the medieval city of Kilkenny mixes small-town charm and big-city buzz to perfection.
Set within Ireland’s Ancient East and just 90 minutes from Dublin, the "Marble City" (so known for the many buildings built with local Kilkenny marble) packed with colourful characters, amazing music and an electric atmosphere.
By day, you can pile on the culture with medieval showpieces such as Rothe House, Black Abbey, and the Medieval Mile Museum. Sip on Ireland's oldest ale on a guided tour at Smithwicks brewery, or admire the design exhibitions at Kilkenny Design Centre or Kilkenny Art Gallery. After dark Kilkenny amps things up with cracking trad music sessions, historic pubs and some of the best festivals on the island.
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The ancient indigenous Irish sport of hurling is one of the oldest not to mention the fastest field games in the world. It holds a special place in Kilkenny.
Nature beckons – beyond the city
Step out of Kilkenny city, and a necklace of charming towns and villages along the River Nore await. In Bennetsbridge, Thomastown, Inistioge and more, you’ll discover a landscape that harks back to ancient times and tales filled with rich green tones and gently flowing waters.
The countryside here is perfect for off-the-beaten track adventures. Head southeast to the village of Graiguenamanagh and the gloriously beautiful River Barrow, and you’ll find plenty of walking, kayaking and cycling options in a pristine natural environment.
And don’t forget that Kilkenny is at the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East, so there’s always a castle, a grand mansion, medieval town, or a magnificent monastery nearby!
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Few buildings in Ireland can boast a longer history of continuous occupation than Kilkenny Castle. Founded soon after the Norman conquest of Ireland, the castle has been rebuilt, extended and adapted to suit changing circumstances and uses over a period of 800 years.