Kilkenny is a medieval town in southeast Ireland. Its grand Kilkenny Castle was built in 1195 by Norman occupiers and is one of the premier tourist attractions in Kilkenny. The castle is well worth a visit and it is on the Heritage Pass which makes things really convenient. The castle is flanked by two round towers and the tour is excellent.
There are many historic artifacts on display in the castle but I was particularly struck by the tapestries. There are six of them and they tell the story of Decius Mus a Roman Consul. They were originally designed and painted in oil on large canvases around 1616 by Flemish artist, Peter Paul Rubens. They were recently restored and now hang in splendor on the castle walls. Quite spectacular.
Also on display are a series of porcelain faces. I found these quite fascinating. They are beautifully made and painted and fired . Each face is quite different and they are displayed one after the other in the castle hallway. Each face represents a different River God. Quite cool.
We spent quite a long time at the castle, taking our time and really looking at all that was offered. You really need several hours to do it justice.
Kilkenny has deep religious roots and many well-preserved churches and monasteries, including imposing St. Canice’s Cathedral and the Black Abbey Dominican priory, both from the 13th century.
St. Canice’s Tower is one of only two in Ireland that you are allowed to climb. The Tower dates to the 9th C. and is 30 Meters high. It’s really tall. The day we went there was a school group ahead of us so we had a lovely conversation with the guard on duty outside the tower.
I really don’t like heights so couldn’t let go of the rails long enough to take a picture but the views from the top are wonderful. You can see all over the city of Kilkenny. There is a small fee to climb the tower but well worth the cost.
Kilkenny is also a crafts hub, with shops along its winding lanes selling pottery, paintings and jewellery. So after the Tower we wandered over to the National Design & Craft Center. Brilliant Artisans work and display their crafts here. It was quite fun and we enjoyed our visit.
You can access a lovely garden from the back of the Craft center. The garden is attached to a small hotel and restaurant. If you time it right, you can have tea in the garden after sightseeing. Unfortunately, we were too late so opted for the River Court Hotel.
The River Court Hotel has a lovely outdoor terrace right by the river. On a sunny day there is nowhere nicer to have tea.
So, we did. It was delicious.
Other things you definitely want to do in Kilkenny are: visit Kyteler’s Pub and restaurant and learn about the local Kilkenny Witch and visit Smithwick’s Brewery. This is a great tour. It was the best brewery tour we took. We thought it much better than the Guiness Tour. However, we did the Smithwick’s Tour on our last trip to Ireland so didn’t repeat it this time. Kilkenny is really a great place to spend a few days.