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3 Adventures for Young Historians

Ask any teacher; igniting an interest in the past can be difficult in school-age children, but the very best teachers have a way of making history come alive, and these three different experiences in Kilkenny do just that. How about a Viking massacre, a whole bunch of quirky statues and the wackiest way to see Kilkenny city? The kids will have so much fun, they'll be learning without even noticing.

Dunmore Caves

There’s a mystery to be solved at Dunmore Caves. Someone who died here in the ancient past had a gold-lined shawl and a bag of money. Who was this person? A nobleman running from Viking invaders or an invader just back from robbing a monastery?

History and geology blend at Dunmore Cave to give an interesting and unique insight into this part of Ireland. Consisting of a series of chambers formed over millions of years, the caves contain some of the finest calcite formations (stalactites and stalagmites) found in any Irish cave. A quarter of a mile of passages lead deep underground – to 150ft below the surface at its deepest point.

The cave has been known to man for many centuries and is first mentioned in the 9th century Irish Triads. The most interesting reference, however, comes from the Annals. It tells of a Viking massacre at the cave in 928 AD.

Archaeological finds within the cave confirm Viking activity. So was our guy a robber or a nobleman?

  • Admission to the caves is by guided tour only, all year round. Phone: +353 56 776 7726 to book.
  • The last tour starts one hour before closing time which is 5pm (6:30 pm in the summer months).


Jerpoint Abbey and St. Nicholas’ Tomb (yes THAT one!)

Just two miles from Thomastown, sits Jerpoint Abbey, an outstanding Cistercian abbey founded in the second half of the 12th century an one of the most complete Irish Cistercian monasteries.  The church is still relatively intact and its crossing tower dominates the surrounding landscape. Minutes away you will find Jerpoint Park, site of ‘The Lost Town’ which once was the vibrant town of Newtown Jerpoint, with approx 27 dwelling houses, a court house, woollen mill, a tannery, a brewery and reputedly 14 taverns.

Amongst the ruins of the church, you will find the grave of Saint Nicholas of Myra…born in Turkey 260 AD, renowned for his generosity to children. Tradition in these parts tell that the earthly remains of the Sainted Nicholas were secretly removed from Bari by returning crusader knights, who brought them back to Newtown Jerpoint for safe keeping. Why was he depicted with bags of gold and who were the three young men in a barrell? This enthralling tale will have kids on the edge of their seats!

Inside the remains of  the church is a collection of sculpted tombs, including carvings of saints and apostles associated with the sixteenth-century O’Tunney school of sculptors.  The reconstructed cloister arcade is unique for its rich array of quirky sculptures.

The guided tour of this unique heritage site delves deep into the history of the monks who lived here during medieval times. You can also take a self-guided tour if you prefer to make your own way around and let the kids loose.

  • Admission to Jerpoint Abbey is €4 per adult and the grounds are open from 9 am daily, free parking
  • Jerpoint  Park  is open 1st April –  28th October 2018 for  Guided Heritage Tours & Sheep Dog Demonstrations.
  • Tour Times Daily: 10.30am – Guided Heritage Tour     2.30pm, Out of hours contact: 086 6061449 or info@jerpointpark.com
  • Duration of tour approx  35 minutes …..Parking is free
  • More at http://monastic.ie/history/jerpoint-cistercian-abbey/


Shenanigans, a Mis-guided Walking Tour

Have you ever wondered where the phrase “the stinking rich” originated?

Do you know how a 12” needle was used to expose witches?

Why do cats in Kilkenny have no tails?

Your group will discover these answers and more as this walking tour weaves its way though the city.  Your guide will regale you with anecdotes which blend comedy, magic, history, whimsical fun, and a good dollop of irreverent humour. There’ll be plenty of shenanigans along the way!

The veil of Kilkenny city is lifted revealing the hidden secrets of the medieval city that lie beneath.  The kids will love this magical, historical (and hysterical) way to experience Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile, the jewel in the crown of Ireland’s Ancient East.

What a blast! It was so funny. If you are coming to Kilkenny you have to do it, we were laughing the entire time.