County Kilkenny is located in the southeast of Ireland. A large number of Norman castles and abbeys make Kilkenny one of Ireland’s most historic counties. Modern Kilkenny boasts a vibrant nightlife, particularly in Kilkenny City, and a rich array of arts and crafts. Quality hotels, elegant restaurants, award-winning pubs, talented musicians and warm hearted people make Kilkenny an ideal holiday destination.
County Kilkenny has been at the heart of Irish civilization and culture for more than fifteen centuries, boasting a unique selection of historic sites and buildings some dating from the 7th century.
Top Attractions in County Kilkenny
Black Abbey – Abbey Street, Kilkenny City – A 13th century church, founded by, and still in use today by the Dominican Order.
Brod Tullaroan (Inc. Lory Meagher Heritage Centre) – Tullaroan – A 17th century two-storey thatched mansion now fully restored and incorporating additional buildings with a large GAA (Gaelic sports) museum.
Duiske Abbey – Graiguenamanagh – A fully restored early Cistercian Church, Original medieval floor tiles still available to view.
Dunmore Cave – Ballyfoyle –
Jerpoint Abbey – Thomastown – An outstanding Cistercian abbey founded in the second half of the 12th century. The church with its Romanesque details dates from this period. In the transept chapels the visitor can see 13th and 16th century tomb sculpture.
Kells Augustinian Priory – Kells – An extensive Augustinian Priory founded in 1193. Adjacent is a large Mill which serves as a visitor centre.
Kilfane Glen & Waterfall – Thomastown – A recently discovered romantic era garden featuring a waterfall and cottage ornee.
Kilkenny Castle – Kilkenny City – A 12th century castle remodelled in Victorian times and set in extensive parklands which was the principal seat of the Butler family, Marquesses and Dukes of Ormonde.
Kilkenny Design Centre – Castleyard, Kilkenny City – Located in the old coach houses of Kilkenny Castle, contains a comprehensive selection of the best in local and national crafts, on display and for sale.
Medieval Mile Museum – St Mary’s Parish Church, St Mary’s Lane, High Street, Kilkenny City –
Saint Canices Cathedral – Kilkenny, Kilkenny City – The 13th century cathedral of St Canice is the second longest cathedral in Ireland . The site on which the cathedral stands has been a site of Christian worship since the 6th century.
Smithwick’s Experience Kilkenny – Parliament St, Kilkenny City – Your journey with Smithwick’s starts in 1231, long before John Smithwick ever set foot in the city. Walk the echoing halls in the Abbey of St. Francis, where clever monks found a way of purifying the deadly water that coursed through their land.
Events and Festivals in County Kilkenny
Main Destinations in County Kilkenny
Freshford, constructed around a tree lined square, the town recalls its medieval origins each year in its heritage festival. A fine Romanesque Doorway of the ancient Church which first caused the settlement to grow in importance and stature is still a feature much admired.
Graiguenamanagh is situated in the Barrow Valley, in an area of outstanding beauty. There are many activities to enjoy, including boating, crafts and walking.
Kilkenny City is Ireland’s most historic and compact medieval city. The use of the term city is a point of some dispute. Kilkenny’s inhabitants claim its city status because of a medieval charter it received 800 years ago.
Bennettsbridge is a centre for the small scale craft industries for which Kilkenny is famous, this attractive village also offers exciting vistas of the Nore River. Nearby Maiden Hall is the birthplace of the Irish Hubert Butler.
Castlecomer was the centre of the Irish coal mining industry in the 18th and the 19th centuries the town retains the feel of an estate town. An active and enthusiastic community have continued to build on the rich heritage of their past to create a delightful blend of the best of that past with today’s modern facilities.
Gowran was once a seat of the Kings of Ossory, before the Anglo-Norman Invasion. Now home to a fine tradition of Horse Racing.
Inistioge is a charming village with a tree-lined square, lying in a picturesque part of the Nore Valley. Inistioge has been the setting for no less that four successful films in recent years – one reason why it is sometimes referred to as Ireland’s answer to Hollywood.
Kells is a medieval walled town situated on the picturesque King’s River, with the 12th century Augustinian Priory dominating the nearby landscape.
Thomastown is an early medieval foundation with delightful streetscapes, picturesque views of the River Nore. Birthplace of the 18th century philosopher George Berkeley and today equally famous for its proximity to the famous championship golf course, Mount Juliet.
Other towns include Ballyfoyle, Ballyragget, Bennettsbridge, Callan, Castlecomer, Clara, Cuffesgrange, Danesfort, Dungarvan, Goresbridge, Gowran, Kells, Kilmacow, Mooncoin, Mullinavat, Seven Houses, Slieverue, The Rower, Tullaroan, Urlingford.
Getting Here and Around
Kilkenny is located in the southeast of Ireland. It is relatively close to Cork and Rosslare for sea access. Dublin, Cork, and Shannon airports are all within a few hours’ drive. The M9 Dublin to Waterford motorway runs through the county, and connects with Kilkenny City via the N10 route.
More detailed information on getting to and around County Kilkenny can be found in our Co. Kilkenny Transport Guide.