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Medieval Magic in Kilkenny

Did you know that Kilkenny was once the medieval capital of Ireland? Its rich medieval heritage is instantly visible through the narrow cobbled streetscapes, historical buildings, secret slipways and iconic landmarks. One of the best features of Kilkenny is its compactness allowing you explore everything it has to offer on foot, just be sure to allow yourself enough time to experience it all. Enjoy our city!

Living History

The origins of Kilkenny City predate all existing medieval landmarks.

Saint Canice, after whom Kilkenny is named, founded a monastic settlement here in the 6th century. The 9th century round tower beside the wonderful stone cathedral of St Canice’s was built in the 13th century.

St Canice’s is the second longest Cathedral in Ireland and one of the only three towers that visitors can still walk up to enjoy the sights from on high.

Ireland’s only witch trials took place in Kilkenny in 1324, it's also thought that they were the first to happen in Europe! Dame Alice Kyteler, innkeeper and moneylender, was accused of using sorcery against her four husbands, having amassed a fortune from them upon their deaths. Before she could be tried, Alice fled to England, but her maid Petronella was not so fortunate as she was flogged and burned at the stake.

The Medieval Mile

The Medieval Mile is a unique discovery trail which links Kilkenny Castle and St. Canice’s Cathedral with all manner of medieval magic in-between.

Experience all the sights, sounds and smells of a city where history really does come to life as you step through the centuries.

Historic buildings, cobbled streets, secret slipways, a Dominican abbey blooming with stained glass, and the only example of an early 17th century merchant’s house in Ireland are just some of the medieval sites to behold along Ireland’s Medieval Mile.

You can visit a recreated medieval garden, climb St. Canice’s Round Tower (the oldest standing structure in the city), and take a glimpse inside the lives of the Butler family and their servants at Kilkenny Castle. Feel the hairs rise and your heart beat at tales of witchcraft in Kyteler’s Inn… here since 1324.

A meander down the Medieval Mile is as much an immersion in the sights, smells and sounds of the modern city as the heritage that set it on its way.

The Medieval Mile Museum

Unearth 800 years of history under one roof. At the Medieval Mile Museum, they tell the stories of Kilkenny’s powerful patrons and inspired creators through the monuments and artefacts they left behind.

Ireland’s finest example of a medieval church, the site has been lovingly restored in recent years. Archaeological excavations unearthed artefacts hidden for centuries that are now on display in world-class exhibitions. Visitors to the museum will marvel at a treasure trove of objects encompassing the work and lives of Ireland and its people across centuries.

Whether by means of an entertaining guided tour, or an all-day tour (with interactive audio guides available in 6 languages and child-friendly options), the Medieval Mile Museum offers visitors an unforgettable experience.

The Tholsel

This fine building is located on High Street, the main shopping street of Kilkenny, and it dates back to 1761. It has served as a custom house, guildhall, courthouse and today it is used by local government. It is fondly referred to by locals as the Town Hall. If only those walls could talk!

As well as being used by the local authorities, it is also a favourite spot for busking musicians and street art exhibitions!

The name Tholsel comes from two old English words ‘toll’ meaning tax and ‘sael’ meaning hall.