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4 Destinations That Are So Kilkenny

With so much to choose from, we have put together this list of stand-out places that embody what Kilkenny has to offer.

Nicholas Mosse Factory, Bennettsbridge

Nicholas Mosse is one of Kilkenny’s – and Ireland’s – best known craftspeople. Nicholas Mosse pottery is made in an ancient mill on the River Nore in the magnificent village of Bennettsbridge, just 15 minutes’ drive from Kilkenny city.

The Mosse family – who were millers by profession – have run the mill since the early 19th Century. In 1983, Nicholas and his wife Susan purchased it. Slowly and carefully, in what was a labour of love, they restored the building to its former glory.

Visitors can watch the skilled potters and decorators at work as the signature pieces of patterned pottery are created using techniques that date back to the 18th Century. There is an on-site shop, which sells beautiful homewares along with the full range of pottery and factory seconds. A highlight is the café, offering stunning views of the River Nore as well as a simple but delicious menu that regularly features local producers.

  • Tours of Nicholas Mosse Pottery for groups of 10 people or more are available on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Cost is €5.00 per person. Book by emailing eshop@nicholasmosse.com

The Little Mill Company in the mill across the river is run by Nicholas Mosse’s brother. He produces wholemeal flours and homebaking mixes, which can be sampled in the bread and baking on sale in the Nicholas Mosse café.

Woodstock Gardens, Inistioge

Just a 20-minute drive from Nicholas Mosse, and outside the picturesque village of Inistioge, are the breathtaking Woodstock Gardens. In 2018, the gardens were shortlisted for the special President’s Prize in the international Entente Florale awards. On visiting, it’s obvious why. There is a magical atmosphere here that can’t be found anywhere else.

Meander through the formal and informal gardens, which date back to Victorian times. Find walled and terraced gardens, a spectacular rose garden, an arboretum, the noble fir avenue and the magnificent monkey puzzle avenue.

The gardens are being restored to the period 1840-1890 with every effort being made to use plants and materials typical of the era.

  • Entry to the gardens is €4 and can be paid on exiting. Do make sure you have some coins on you as they don’t accept credit cards.
  • There are three orienteering courses at Woodstock. Download the maps here.

The tea room at Woodstock is located in the Robert Turner-designed cast-iron conservatory dating from 1856, which really is a feat of engineering.

Jerpoint Glass, Stoneyford

For almost 40 years, glass designers at Jerpoint Glass have created a unique collection of handmade glassware from their craft studio near the village of Stonyford.

Jerpoint Glass is Ireland’s only glassblowing studio where traditional handcraft techniques that are almost 2,000 years old are still used.

Alongside a small team of master glass-blowers, the Leadbetter family have built Jerpoint into an internationally recognised and iconic brand.

Jerpoint glassware creations are instantly recognisable across the globe because of their unique designs and vibrant use of colour. The glassware can be spotted in movies such as the Harry Potter series and the popular BBC TV series Poldark.

  • Stoneyford is just a 15-minute drive south of Kilkenny city and about 25 minutes south east of Woodstock Gardens.
  • Jerpoint Glass Studio is closed on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Admission is free.

Watching glass blown by hand is a thrilling sight. Demonstrations happen every weekday. You might even be lucky enough to try it for yourself!

Kilkenny Castle

No trip to Kilkenny is complete without witnessing the splendour and magnificence of this astounding castle and its grounds.

Kilkenny Castle is Kilkenny’s most iconic landmark and one of Ireland’s most visited attractions each year. What is today one the most complete castles you can visit in Ireland started life as a Norman fortress around 1127. The castle was in the Butler clan from the late 14th Century until it was gifted by them to the people of Kilkenny in 1967.

A tour of the castle is highly recommended. The complex architecture of the building, which has been added to and altered many times since the 12th century, makes for a fascinating visit, not to mention the exquisite furniture, paintings and decoration and glimpses of life through the centuries.

  • The castle basement houses the Butler Art Gallery, a major contemporary art gallery with an impressive collection of 20th century Irish art.
  • It is advisable to check castle opening times as they change throughout the year.

The castle is built on 50 acres of landscaped gardens – great for picnics, people-watching, and strolling.

Insider's tip

If you’re visiting on a Thursday, you will catch the weekly farmers market on the Parade, adjacent to the castle – stock up for a picnic in the Castle Park with the locals!