The hero county of Ireland’s Ancient East

Kilkenny, the hero county of Ireland’s Ancient East, is perfectly located and superbly connected for domestic and international visitors, just 90 minutes from Dublin, two hours from Cork and three hours from Belfast. This cultural heritage hub has a wealth of activities and experiences just waiting for you to explore.

Both the City and County quietly emanate the very best that Ireland has to offer twelve months of the year. From culture to creativity, fine eateries to vibrant nightlife and outdoor adventures to medieval magic, this is the place that has something for everybody.

Visitors can immerse themselves in the diverse offerings of food, history, outdoor pursuits, shopping and culture with experiences that are guaranteed to create a memorable trip.

The city offers a compactness that allows visitors to easily explore everything that it has to offer on foot with the county providing many trails for those with an adventurous spirit for food, craft, walking or cycling.

Foodie Forays

This year, the eclectic and diverse food and tourism offering of Kilkenny City and County was officially recognised as Ireland’s Foodie Destination of the Year 2018. It really is no surprise given the many foodie offerings the county has to offer. From food trails that showcase the best of Ireland’s artisan producers who call Kilkenny home to top notch gastro pub food and even Michelin Star restaurants.

 

Festival Fever

Kilkenny is Ireland’s most infamous host of festivals! From the Cat Laughs and International Arts Festival, to festivals of Animation and International Film, Kilkenny is constantly adding more entertainment to the schedule and presents a vibrant dynamic calendar of new and established festivals to suit all personas. Whether your preference is for food, comedy, arts or music, a visit to one of these events is an absolute must. Kilkenomics,which brings together comedy and economics, takes place from November 8th – 11th. Kilkenny’s annual Christmas festival, Yulefest, will be taking place throughout the month of December.

Crafty Culture

Kilkenny is home to a vibrant arts community with both the city and county filled with galleries, craft shops and design studios featuring some of Ireland’s best known designers and makers such as Duiske Glass, Nicholas Mosse, Jerpoint Glass and Rudolf Heltzel.

The ‘MADE in Kilkenny’ trail features many of these makers whose studios are often in idyllic settings, offering an opportunity to meet the people behind each beautifully made piece. Across from the iconic Kilkenny Castle, visitors can explore the National Design and Craft Gallery or take a short spin to Castlecomer Craft Yard. 

St. Canice's Round Tower Kilkenny

Medieval Magic

Kilkenny is bookended by the spectacular Kilkenny Castle to the south and the magnificent St. Canice’s Cathedral to the north. For a time during the 17th century it was the unofficial capital of Ireland with its own parliament and remains the medieval capital of Ireland. This can be seen in its narrow streetscapes and historic buildings. This Medieval Mile runs through the heart of Kilkenny with all sorts of magic in between. The Medieval Mile allows you to walk through the centuries, visiting stunningly preserved buildings and remenants of another era with jewels that cannot be found anywhere else in Ireland, such as Rothe House, the only example of an early 17th Century merchant’s house. The Medieval Mile also showcases some of Kilkenny’s most famous attractions like the Smithwick’s Experience.

Rapturous Retail

Along with being the home of Folkster, the city is synonymous with a host of independent boutiques such as new label 38Co, Lady Lorna and The Wardrobe. In Kilkenny, long established family retailers sit proudly beside the High Street brands and eclectic designers.

Lovers of authentic Irish craft and design will also be spoiled for choice and will be thrilled  by a visit to the National Design and Craft Centre which never fails to challenge and inspire traditional design with exhibitions, talks and interventions. No room for complacency in Kilkenny!

Explore

In this article

38 Co Boutique

Castlecomer Discovery Park

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Cat Laughs Festival

Kilkenny Arts Festival

Kilkenny Design Centre

Kilkenny Medieval Mile Tours

Kilkenomics Festival

Lady Lorna Designer Emporium

Made in Kilkenny

Smithwicks Experience

St.Canice’s Cathedral

The Wardrobe

Duiske Glass Gift Shop

Rudolf Heltzel Goldsmith

Recommended Experiences

4 Destinations That Are So Kilkenny

A tale of three sisters in Ireland’s Ancient East – Kilkenny waterways

Castle Curiosities

Castlecomer Craft Yard

Dig a Little Deeper and look beyond to discover hidden gems

MADE in Kilkenny

6 Sensational Foodie Experiences

A fashion mecca for the style conscious

Festival Guide to Kilkenny

Kilkenny – so much to explore within walking distance

Kilkenny, a great location for Solo Explorers

Medieval Magic in Kilkenny

38 Co Boutique

38 St Kieran's St, Gardens, Kilkenny

087 9542336

[email protected]

facebook.com/thirtyeightco38/

38co Boutique is a new unique and contemporary own brand created by Cathy in 2017. 38co style is high fashion, on trend. The unique styling is an art form with a range of colours to suit your individuality. The range was carefully selected for women through all walks of life, help women feel confident in their individual style every day, comfortable yet stylish.

Castlecomer Discovery Park

The Estate Yard, Castlecomer, Kilkenny

056 4440707

[email protected]

discoverypark.ie/

Castlecomer Discovery Park offers an exciting range of activities around the estate including tree top walks, climbing walls, boating, adventure playgrounds, orienteering and most recently Ireland’s longest zip wire and high ropes challenge. At the hub of the site, there is the Irish Mining Museum, a purpose-built cafe, craft village, and spaces for educational activities. Castlecomer Discovery Park comprises 80 acres of natural woodland and lakes. It opened to the public in 2007 to commemorate the coal-mining heritage following the closure of the local mines in 1969. It aims to develop rural tourism, generate local employment and regenerate the town.

Kilkenny Castle

The Parade, Kilkenny

056 7704100

[email protected]

kilkennycastle.ie

Go back in time to a 12th Century castle, remodelled and restored and set in 1830's splendour and extensive parklands: includes art gallery and playground. Publications are also on sale. Access for visitors with disabilities to ground floor and the gardens only.

Kilkenny Cat Laughs Festival

Kilkenny City

056 7763837

[email protected]

thecatlaughs.com

Kilkenny Cat Laughs is Ireland’s annual craic pilgrimage, and has been heralding the start of the summer season since 1995. Now in it’s 24th edition, the festival has played host over the years to international and domestic world class comedy and is renowned for treating both talent and audience to a warm, welcoming and convivial atmosphere in Kilkenny, at the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East. Cat Laughs has a reputation for being the comedians’ comedy festival, and for creating an atmosphere where anything can happen. Over the years the festival has nurtured the fledgling careers of Irish acts like Dara Ó Briain, Aisling Bea, Graham Norton, Dylan Moran, Maeve Higgins, Ardal O’Hanlon, Joanne McNally, Deirdre O’Kane, David O’Doherty, Des Bishop and many, many more. We have also welcomed international luminaries like Bill Murray, Zach Galifianakis, Laura Kightlinger, Bill Burr, George Wendt, Ross Noble, Peter Kay, Bill Bailey, Tig Notaro, Emo Philips and Sarah Millican among others. In 2017, Matt Smyth and Dan Colley of Collapsing Horse Theatre took over the reins as Artistic Directors, bringing some of their own comedy influences onboard and and building on the fine legacy of the festival. They take the helm again in 2018 and look forward to combining the best in comedy standup with new names in the world of improv, sketch, podcasts and more. Roll on summer!

Kilkenny Arts Festival

Kilkenny City

056 7763663

[email protected]

kilkennyarts.ie/

Since its foundation in 1974, Kilkenny Arts Festival has gathered many of the world’s finest musicians, performers, writers and artists in Ireland’s medieval city each August. For ten days, the city’s historic churches, castle, courtyards, townhouses and gardens offer a magical setting for unique collaborations and intimate encounters between audiences and artists.

Kilkenny Design Centre

Castle Yard, Kilkenny

056 7722118

[email protected]

kilkennydesign.com

Kilkenny Design Craft Centre offers an unrivalled selection of Irish handcrafted gifts. While it has many imitators, the Centre remains Ireland’s most prestigious source of Irish gifts of exceptional quality, all chosen with a discerning eye for quality, uniqueness and style. The Centre’s unequalled supplier list, drawn from Ireland’s most eminent craftspeople and designers, gives visitors a uniquely special shopping experience, allowing them to purchase the best of Irish crafts and design under one roof. Visitors from outside of the EU can avail of highly attractive tax free shopping.

Kilkenny Medieval Mile Tours

Welcome to Medieval mile tours where we guide you the back streets and alleyways of the Medieval City of Kilkenny. You will learn about Dame Alice Kyteler and her son both of whom were on trial for which craft in one of the earliest witch craft accusations in Europe. Or how Kilkenny was the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Ossory, and St Canice’s Cathedral stands on a site which has experienced Christian worship since the 6th century.

Kilkenomics Festival

Kilkenny City

056 7763837

[email protected]

kilkenomics.com/

2018 will mark the 9th edition of Kilkenomics - Europe’s first economics festival - which brings together some of the world’s leading economists, financial analysts and media commentators with some of our funniest, sharpest standup comedians. We’ve been called “Davos with jokes” and we wouldn’t disagree with that assessment. Our informal, entertaining formats invite our audiences to engage and enjoy. As we like to say: it’s serious, but it’s fun too! Jump into Kilkenomics now and engage with as many shows as possible, equip yourself with the information and insight we hope can help us all make smart choices for our futures - inform and entertain yourselves. People who have taken part in previous years include David McWilliams (co-founder of the festival), Constantin Gurdgiev, Max Keiser, Gillian Tett, Rory Sutherland, Linda Yueh and Yanis Varoufakis.

Lady Lorna Designer Emporium

Lady Lorna Designer Emporium is host to a range of talented Irish & International Designers, located on the medieval mile in the heart of Kilkenny City. Lady Lorna Designer Emporium’s selection of Designer fashion complimented by a range of stylish accessories emphasises elegance & individuality.

Made in Kilkenny

‘MADE in Kilkenny’, established in 2009, consists of 27 craft members who have combined their drive and passion for their craft to initiate professional makers coming together to directly promote their business, increase public awareness of their craft and of Kilkenny as a tourist destination. MADE in Kilkenny consists of some of Ireland’s finest craftmakers. Many of the craftmakers have won major national and international accolades including, Mark Campen of the ‘Bridge Pottery’ who was three times winner at the Royal Dublin Show 2011 for Ceramics, the Crafts Council of Ireland Purchase Award and the RDS Award of Excellence! Jane Huston was also a winner in the Precious metal category for her beautiful Sterling silver gilt beakers depicting the “Elements”.

Smithwicks Experience

44 Parliament Street, Kilkenny

056 7786377

[email protected]

smithwicksexperience.com/

Immerse yourself in the story of Smithwick’s, told as only a local knows how. Where 300 years of history combine with extraordinary brewing innovations, to create the Smithwick’s tour – an experience like no other.

St.Canice’s Cathedral

Coach Road, Kilkenny

056 7764971

[email protected]

stcanicescathedral.ie

Built between 1202 and 1285, St Canice's has been preserved in its original style and form. Worship has taken place here for over 800 years. See the wonderful stained glass and the largest collection of ancient monuments. View Kilkenny and the surrounding area from the 9th century round tower (weather permitting) and see the seat of the bishop of Ossory dating back to 1120AD. Facilities include: Gift shop, toilets, wheelchair access. Information leaflets are available in 15 languages. Group and guided tours available by booking in advance.

The Wardrobe

2 William Street, Kilkenny

056 7715542

[email protected]

thewardrobekilkenny.ie

The Wardrobe is the leading Designer Consignment Store in the South East. Stocking beautiful pre-loved clothes shoes and accessories. We can sell your gently worn pre-loved items or you can buy from us.

Duiske Glass Gift Shop

High Street, Graignamanagh, Kilkenny

059 9724174

[email protected]

duiskeglasskilkenny.ie

Duiske Glass Gift shop is renowned for its grapevine cut wine glasses, crystal and giftware which are now exclusively available at Duiske Glass. Duiske Glass Gift Shop offers a bespoke engraving service whereby almost any piece of glassware or crystal can be enhanced with personalised engraving to suit the occasion.

Rudolf Heltzel Goldsmith

10 Patrick Street, Kilkenny

056 7721497

[email protected]

rudolfheltzel.com

Established in 1968 and now in its second generation, internationally acclaimed Rudolf Heltzel designers gold and silversmiths hand make unique, exquisite jewellery in precious metals and gemstones. Their gallery at 10 Patrick Street, open to the public, displays and sells an exciting range of instantly recognisable, hand made engagement rings and dress pieces in 18ct gold, sterling silver and platinum, set with carefully selected diamonds and magnificent precious gemstones.