Kilkenny Castle, seen from Rose Garden

A city of about 26,000 in the 'Sunny South East' of Ireland, Kilkenny lies just 75 miles southwest of Dublin and is the County Town of Co. Kilkenny. It's the smallest city in terms of population in the Republic of Ireland and the River Nore flows through the city splitting it in two with most sights of interest on the western side of this river.

As Ireland's Mediaeval Capital, it offers the traveller a mixture of an exciting vibrant night-life, beautiful street-scapes, great shopping opportunities and a rich cultural heritage.


Kilkenny (Irish: Cill Chainnigh) is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ireland as well as a weekend getaway for many Irish. Well regarded for its vibrant nightlife, it has become increasingly popular in recent years. The city is also famous for its many mediaeval buildings and is referred to as the Marble City after the black polished limestone ['marble'] that was quarried around the city. The concept of a "Medieval Mile" has been instigated which endeavours to take in the majority of the City's iconic sights bookended by the Castle and St Canice's Cathedral respectively. Along the route plaques have been put in place giving visitors some historic background to the various landmarks along the route.

Despite its small population, it holds ancient city status due to having a cathedral and an old royal charter dating from 1609. The locals do not take kindly to the city being referred to as a "town". In the mid 1960s various arts and craft enterprises were set up in what was the stables for Kilkenny Castle. These still exist in various forms and in the county - particularly in Thomastown.

The city plays host to three festivals which bring large crowds from all over Ireland. In May the Rhythm and Roots music festival take place in pubs and other venues around the city. On the June bank holiday weekend the Cat Laughs comedy festival take place. In August the Kilkenny Arts Festival, second only to its Galway equivalent, takes place. Venues for this last festival include the Castle and St Canice's Cathedral. The city centre is bookended by its two primary tourist attractions. St Canice's Cathedral to the north in Irishtown and Kilkenny Castle at the opposite end located on the Parade. The city has the greatest concentration of medieval churches in the country. Indeed on the occasion of the State purchasing St Mary's Hall Ireland's paper of record, The Irish Times, stated that "St Mary's Hall in located halfway along the trail of the most significant medieval urban landscape in Ireland". All year round the coaches which line the Parade underline the popularity of Kilkenny as a tourist destination.

The lower end of the Parade, from the Castle to the traffic lights at the beginning of High Street has recently been redesigned. It has created a pleasant pedestrian zone and also permits a nice vista of the Castle from High Street. It is currently the location of the only public toilets in the city. This new crude structure has had its appearance softened somewhat by the placing of tourist information boards across the front. These are well worth reading and will aid your enjoyment of our historic city. The tourist office, open all year round, is in Shee Alms House, on Rose Inn Street. This is five minutes walk from the Castle.

As a rule Kilkenny is a white collar city with one notable exception. Smithwicks which is still brewed at St Francis Brewery on Parliament Street. Glanbia formerly Avonmore, a giant in food production, has its administration headquarters on the edge of the city having being founded twelve miles away in Ballyraggett, Co. Kilkenny. The main venue for performing arts is the art deco Watergate Theatre located between Parliament Street and Irishtown. The predominant sport in Kilkenny is hurling. Hurling is one of two codes in the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). Hurling is played with a wooden stick called a hurley. Using the hurley you hit a cork ball called a sliotar. Kilkenny as a county is the most successful team in terms of All-Ireland titles in the country. The local GAA stadium is Nowlan Park located ten minutes walk from the train station. The nickname for the team is the Cats. If Kilkenny are playing in the All-Ireland Final on the first Sunday of September, the city and county is decked out in the team colours of black and amber. It will be the talk of the town if they reach the Final. The Final is played in Croke Park, Dublin.

As a matter of curiosity, Kilkenny maybe the only place in Ireland with a street called The Parade. Only in Kilkenny and Dublin is there a Parliament Street.

Sightseeing, partying or a spot of shopping in Kilkenny's array of excellent shops, this city is certain to have it all for everyone.



Kilkenny has a long and interesting history. The city's origins pre-date the medieval landmarks existing today. Saint Canice founded a monastic settlement in Kilkenny in the sixth century, unfortunately the sole remaining landmark from this settlement is the round tower positioned alongside the cathedral. Strongbow, the famous Norman Conqueror, then built a fortress in the City, Kilkenny Castle, and soon the construction of the walled city began.

However, it wasn't until the seventeenth century that Kilkenny really entered its golden age. The parliament known as the Confederation of Kilkenny was founded in 1641. This, also known as Confederate Ireland, refers to the period of Irish self-government between the Rebellion of 1641 and the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland in 1649. One of the parliament's main objectives was to unite resistance against English persecution of Irish Catholics. With the emergence of this parliament, Kilkenny entered a period of unparalleled success. Over time, however, the influence of the Confederation of Kilkenny diminished. Oliver Cromwell's arrival in Kilkenny heralded the dissolution of the parliament, and the city never quite regained the prosperity it had previously been celebrated for.

Get in


The only way to fly to Kilkenny is if you fly yourself and land on Kilkenny airfield. For everyone else, the international airports near Kilkenny are:

Other airports within a few hours of Kilkenny include: Cork International Airport, and Shannon International Airport. These are both served by public bus.


Kilkenny Railway Station (MacDonagh Station, phone +353 56 772-2024) is at the top of Saint John's Street, within easy walking distance of anywhere in the city centre. It was named MacDonagh Station after Thomas MacDonagh, one of the executed leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising.

The station is on the Dublin - Waterford line, which also serves Athy, Carlow, Bagenalstown and Thomastown. There are 7 trains a day (Monday to Saturday) and 4 on Sunday in each direction.

It is wheelchair friendly and has a left luggage facility. There is a taxi rank at the station and vacant taxis always appear when a train pulls in. Tickets and timetable information can be got at the station, online or by phone (+353 1 703-4070 between 09:00-17:00 Monday-Friday).

By bus

Kilkenny Bus Station is located by the train station. This is one of two stops for the national bus company Bus Eireann. The train station is a ten minute walk from the Parade which is the heart of the city. Bus Eireann also stops on Ormonde Road a five minute walk to the Parade. JJ Kavanagh also stops on Ormonde Road.

Bus Eireann, the national bus company, JJ Kavanagh and Wild Rover Tours serve Kilkenny. JJ Kavanagh had a driect bus from Kilkenny to Dublin Airport.

By car

Get around


There are two car parks off High Street. One is the Ormonde Street multi storey which is at the Southern end of High Street. The other is the Market Cross car park at the opposite end with access from Parliament St and James St. A third car park nearby is the Market Yard bordered by the river Nore near John's Bridge. There is a fourth car park at McDonagh Junction shopping centre/railway station at the top of John Street. It is a 10 minute walk to the Parade/High Street.

By foot

Kilkenny, due to its size, is a walkable city. You can reach both ends of the city in a matter of minutes. All sites are within walking distance of one another and the walks through this Medieval city are extremely enjoyable.

The main streets are laid out like a backwards L. From the railway station, John's Street runs southwest to the River Nore, becoming Rose Inn St. on the other side. This ends at the Parade, where the castle is located. A 90 degree turn here brings you on to High St, the main shopping street. This runs on, becoming Parliament St., then Irish Town, where St. Canice's Cathedral and round tower are located.

There are walking tours available in Kilkenny City, most notably the Tynan Walking Tours which brings you around this ancient city.

By taxi

Taxis are available throughout the city. They can be found in the train station or in many of the taxi-ranks in Kilkenny. One of the major taxi-ranks is behind Dunnes Stores on the banks of the River Nore. All taxis run by the meter. The initial fare is €4.10 for first km or 170secs, followed by €1.03 per km up to 14km. If you have any problems contact the Taxi Regulator.


While walking is the preferred option, if staying out of town or in the suburbs, a bike is a simple and healthy way of getting in and out. Kilkenny has recently installed cycling paths on almost all major roads leading into the city, so cycling is now a safe and hastle free way of getting in from your accommodation. Indeed, while strolling around town you can chain your bike to the many designated bike poles throughout the city, most notably in the centre at the Tholsel and on the Parade.


The Tholsel, High Street

Kilkenny City, Ireland's most beautiful Historic City, is a perfect hub for arts and culture in Ireland. It is the historic gem in Ireland and the historic sites are concentrated in a small area in the City Centre. Many of the iconic city sights are located along the "Medieval Mile" which runs from The Parade (Kilkenny Castle & Design Centre), up High St (Tholsel, Hole in the Wall & St Mary's Hall), onto Parliament St (Rothe House & Smithwicks Brewery) and into Irishtown (St Canice's Cathedral (CoI).

Walking Tour Route

Start at Kilkenny Castle.


View from the Round Tower, St Mary's Cathedral in the distance
Canal Square



Kilkenny Castle


Golf is very popular in Kilkenny, with courses to suit every level. The following are in the city, but there are lots more courses in County Kilkenny.


Kilkenny beer

Kilkenny is known as a great place to shop. Most shops are open 09:00-18:00, with late opening on Thursday nights till 21:00. There are lots of ATMs all over the city.

Handcrafted Goods

Kilkenny is known as the Design Capital of Ireland and home to the Craft Council of Ireland (see Do section), so it's unsurprising that there are an excellent array of high quality things to purchase. All of the items below are made in Kilkenny, most are on sale in the Kilkenny Design Craft Centre. In most cases, you can visit the workshops themselves and see how the items are made.

In 2009, the brand 'Made In Kilkenny' was created to help promote craft industry. Look out for it.


St. Canice's Cathedral and Round Tower

Kilkenny has an excellent selection of some of the finest restaurants around, including many luxury and traditional places to eat.

Other notable restaurants include Chez Pierre, Marble City Bar and Italian Affair, a wonderful Italian restaurant in Bennettsbridge where Italy surely comes to you. la rivista Italian restaurant near high street and vindees thai restaurant on john street


The City of Kilkenny has a large array of pubs and clubs to suit all ages. While Parliament Street remains the traditional area for quiet, comfortable pubs, John Street is more for the younger clubbing crowd. The drinking age is 18 years of age. Pubs are open from 10:30-23:30 (12:30 Friday, Saturday), while off-licenses are open from 10:00-22:00 (12:30-22:00 Sundays).

Why not try the native Kilkenny beer or the native Smithwicks ale, famous the world over as the distinct taste.




This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under €40
Mid-range €40-100
Splurge Over €100


There are two camp sites near by the city.



Stay safe

Kilkenny is a very safe city with very little crime. Due to its small size, serious crime is almost non-existent. Emergency services can be reached by dialing 999 or 112.

Go next

Map of Kilkenny County

Indeed, while the principal attractions are to be found in Kilkenny city, there are many towns and villages around County Kilkenny which are well worth a visit.


Be sure to visit the beautiful and quaint village of Inistioge set on the banks of the river Nore, the setting for the film Circle of Friends and Widows Peak.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, March 21, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.