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. Kilkenny’s centre is based on the west bank of the River Nore around Parliament Street, High Street and the Parade, with Rothe House at one end and Kilkenny Castle on the hill at the other.
In recent years Kilkenny City has become a hub for arts, crafts and design. With its great nightlife and restaurant scene Kilkenny makes an excellent base for exploring Ireland’s ‘sunny southeast’.
Throughout the year there are things for visitors to Kilkenny to see and do. Highlights of the year include Kilkenny Arts Week in August and the Cat Laughs Comedy Festival in June. Other festivals include the Kilkenny Rhythm n’ Roots in May, Kilkenny Celtic festival in September and October.
Modern Kilkenny’s origins are rooted in the middle ages when a monastery was founded there, from which the city (and county) takes its name. Much of its old medieval architecture remains intact and the street plan of the centre has changed little in the last six hundred years.
Top Attractions in Kilkenny City, County Kilkenny
Black Abbey is a 13th century church, founded by, and still in use today by, the Dominican Order.
Kilkenny Castle is 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 contains a comprehensive selection of the best in local and national crafts, on display and for sale. It is located in the old coach houses of Kilkenny Castle.
Rothe House is a 16th century Tudor Townhouse of great charm. Includes a period costume exhibition and local museum.
Saint Canice’s Cathedral is a 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 tells a story starting 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 Kilkenny City
Kilkenny Arts Festival is an annual arts festival held in Kilkenny City.
Kilkenny Cat Laughs is a comedy festival held each year.
Getting to Kilkenny City and Around
There are bus services to Dublin Airport, city, and many important destinations across the country.
Kildare/Waterford Service Rail service operated by Irish Rail
871 Bus route operated by JJ/Bernard Kavanagh
Public transport route information is Irish Public Sector Data licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence
Our Co. Kilkenny Transport Guide provides more information on getting to and around County Kilkenny.