Kilkenny was the first stop on our tour of Ireland. It is approximately a one and a half hour drive from Dublin. Whether you are doing a self guided tour across the country, or you are with a tour company, it is a must see. Known for its black marble, this quaint medieval town sits along the River Nore, which is in southeastern Ireland. Kilkenny Castle has a commanding presence here as you can see it from several vantage points. The town is a colorful mosaic of winding alleyways, local artisan shoppes, and historic architecture. We only had one day in medieval Kilkenny, however, it is very easy to navigate on foot making it the perfect day trip. Here is what you can do when spending one day in Kilkenny, Ireland,
That morning, we arrived early for a day of exploring. I love to watch a town come alive in the early light. On that March morning, I stood by the bridge and watched a few graceful swans move about. This made me forget about my need for more coffee. Kilkenny is very peaceful and has that kind of effect on a person.We started to cross St. Johns Bridge and that is where we found a sweet little place for breakfast. Everything was homemade and it was the kind of place where you could linger. However, I think Kilkenny in general is that kind of place. The castle is a about a three or four minute walk from this area and it was first on our list to explore.
Killkenny Castle has experienced a great amount of change throughout the years. In order to understand it now, you have to understand its past. In short, The Butler family were a very influential and wealthy family. It was James Butler who purchased the castle and its grounds in 1391.Just prior to the purchase of the castle, Butler was made the Earl of Ormond by King Edward III of England. This gave Butler tremendous power in the land. After two World Wars in the 20th century, the Butler Family no longer had power. The family left the castle in 1935. It wasn’t until 1967 that the property was left to the Castle Restoration and Development Committee. Throughout the years, the castle has experienced many renovations, however, anyone who visits the castle and its surrounding park area is impressed by its enormous presence and unique style. Afterall, you are looking at 828 years of history. If you have time, take a walk through the Parkland which surrounds the castle. The grounds were beautiful even on that day in March. I can only imagine what it looked like with its rose gardens in bloom. Kilkenny Castle is also rumored to have many ghosts within its stately walls. In fact, it is reported that Kilkenny is one of the most haunted towns in Europe. I’m just throwing that out there for the ghost hunters.
Kilkenny has two amazing churches to visit within its town: Black Abbey and Canices Cathedral Black Abbey is a Catholic Priory of Dominican order. It was founded in 1225 and got its name from the black cloak which Dominicans wear over their white habits. I am a huge fan of stained glass windows and decided to visit Black Abbey. It houses some interesting windows in reference to their different styles, however, there is one window in particular that intrigued me the most…
The Church is full of historic artifacts on the outside as well as the inside. For me, it is quite a contrast to step inside Black Abbey. I did not see much stained glass as I walked around the exterior, however, once inside, the church was bathed in beautiful color that made you feel extreme peace and comfort.
Behind the altar is the famous window that I came to see. The impressive five panel, Rosary Window depicts the mysteries of the rosary. It was created in 1892 by Mayers of Munich. It is considered to be one of the largest stained glass windows in Ireland.
Smithwick Irish Ale
It was fun to see the places in Kilkenny that helped to put it on the map. One such place is Smithwick Irish Ale The company has been making its Irish brews since 1610, and its ale remains famous throughout Ireland. Smithwick conducts informative and fun tours seven days a week.
Matt The Millers
During the day, there was time to shop for unique gifts, and have lunch.It was a very springlike day in March, therefore. we spent much of our time outside. The day ended with dinner at a very friendly and entertaining restaurant/pub called, Matt the Millers. We were treated to local fare and some of the best live Irish music.
There are amazing accommodations in Kilkenny. My only regret is that we did not stay in the town itself. If at all possible, you should plan your stay here. There is also a great variety of pubs and restaurants. Be sure to take in the Castle Rose Gardens, and the Rothe House Gardens during your stay.
The best part about Kilkenny is that you can walk away feeling like you experienced its unique culture and history even if you only have one day here. It is a great place to ease into your vacation, or a place where you can slowly say goodbye to Ireland and all its splendor.