Kilkenny Castle and Saint Canice Cathedral, with the Round Tower next to it, are the main attractions in Kilkenny. But there are many more attractins in this medieval town that make it intimate, friendly and a wonderful place to visit.
Kilkenny was a part of the “Viking triangle” with two other towns, Waterford and Wexford, which served as ports of entry for Viking ships. There is strong evidence of Vikings’ presence around Kilkenny, such as the great Viking massacre in Dunmore Cave. Archeologists have discovered the remains of about one thousand people, who were killed in 928 A.D. They also discovered a hoard of 43 silver and bronze items, such as ingots and conical woven buttons made of fine silver. Scientists have dated this cache to 970 A.D. Dunmore Cave is located 150 feet below the surface. It was formed in the limestone deposited 300 million years ago. Dunmore Cave is located 7 miles north of Kilkenny and is opened to visitors all year round.
In 1231 Saint Francis Abbey was founded. The construction of the town walls and gates began in 1250. There is a record engraved in a pavement stone indicating where the city wall was built.
In 1324 a noble woman named Alice Kyteler and her maid Petronella were accused of witchcraft. Dame Alice Kyteler managed to escape to France. However, her maid was burned at the stake. Kyteler’s Inn was established in 1263 and run by Alice Kyteler until the time of her trial and escape. Alice was accused of poisoning all four of her husbands, one after the other, but none of her customers. The Inn is located on Saint Kieran Street, in the heart of the Medieval Mile, and serves delicious Irish food and freshly brewed
poison beer. Their menu even includes ‘Witches Brew from the Cauldron.’
In 1348 the Black Death struck Kilkenny and, as you might imagine, greatly reduced its population.
In 1366 the Statutes of Kilkenny were passed, which prevented Norman colonists from adopting Gaelic ways of life, their language and customs.
In 1594 Roth House was built by John Roth. His house became a center of the Confederation of Kilkenny, a Catholic rebellion movement. It is located on High Street and visitors are welcome to this medieval merchant’s home, which include three townhouses with courtyards and a garden.
In 1642 Kilkenny became the medieval capital of Ireland.
The Tholsel, a custom house for collecting tolls, which was also a court house and a guild hall, was built in 1761 on High Street.
Saint Mary’s Cathedral, the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic diocese of Ossory, was designed by William Butler. The construction of the Cathedral was completed by 1857. There is a beautiful statue of the Madonna, created by Giovanni Benzoni inside the church.
There are also other points of interest such as the Black Abbey, Saint John’s Priory, Saint Mary’s church and graveyard, and the National Craft Gallery.
Butter Slip is a dark and narrow alley connecting High Street and Saint Kieran Street. It is also a part of the Medieval Mile, as are High Street and Saint Kieran Street.
The Smithwick’s Experience is one of the top attractions in Kilkenny and provides a tour of the Smithwick brewery with a free pint of the famous namesake beer.
The best place to enjoy traditional Irish music and old ballads is in Matt the Millers Bar and Restaurant, just across John’s Bridge over the river Nore. The band has a distinct name, “Wallop the Cat.” It performs every evening in the restaurant. John Kavanagh and his fellow performer play magical cords and sing unforgettable folk songs, which spark romance in the hearts of listeners. There is nothing like a pint of Smithwick or Guiness to accompany this performance of traditional Irish music.
If you want to enjoy Irish culture, music, and traditions and to learn more about Irish history, Kilkenny is a place to visit. You’ll feel very welcome here.