Kilkenny City is steeped in a rich medieval history with numerous castles and cathedrals to be explored. The city was named after a 6th century monk, St. Canice and the beautifully restored St. Canice’s Cathedral shares the saints name. Another landmark building is the magnificent Kilkenny Castle, built by the Normans during the 12th century. Beautifully restored buildings such as these sit comfortably alongside contemporary shops, design galleries and restaurants in compact streets, making the city small enough to explore and enjoy on foot. Beautifully restored buildings such as these sit beside contemporary shops, design galleries and restaurants in winding streets, making the city small enough to explore and enjoy on foot. There are also a number of forest parks and some of Ireland's finest craft workshops clustered in the scenic valley of the River Nore.
Below are some of the main visitor attractions in Kilkenny.
Kilkenny Castle was originally built by bow in 1172, and rebuilt by William Marshall in 1192. It was the principal seat of the Butler family who were Earls, Marquesses and Dukes of Ormond. After the Butlers established their seat, Kilkenny became one of the most important towns in Ireland. Extensive restoration work was completed in early 1994 and the central block is now open to the public.
Rothe House, a fine sixteenth century Tudor town house is situated on Parliament Street. The house consists of three separate town houses with three interconnecting courtyards. It is the home of the Kilkenny Archaeological Society, and houses an extensive museum with many unique artifacts from the prehistoric times to those of modern times along with a wonderful collection of period costumes and paintings. Also within the museum is a Members Library containing books, newspapers, maps of local and of national interest and a genealogical centre.
St. Canice's Cathedral
The 13th century Cathedral of St Canice is the second longest cathedral in Ireland. It is built on an ancient 6th century site of Christian worship. The architectural style is early Gothic and it is built of limestone. Beside the Cathedral stands the 9th century round tower. It may once have been a watchtower and a refuge and it can be climbed to give an unsurpassed vantage point to view the city of Kilkenny and the surrounding countryside.
The Thosel, meaning marketplace was originally erected by Alderman William Colles and is a central landmark of Kilkenny City dating from 1761. The buildings design has a double length arcade with an impressive Georgian Council Chamber room positioned above the arcade. There is also an impressive clock tower on the steeply pitched roof, and the southern wall contains the Kilkenny coat of arms. It was badly damaged after a fire in 1987, but has since been completely restored, and now houses City Hall.
Kilkenny Cat Laughs Comedy Festival
The Kilkenny Cat Laughs Festival is one of the staples of the British and Irish comedy circuit and Ireland’s premier international comedy festival. It's held every year in late May or Early June and attracts the best of Irish and International comedians who perform in a host of venues throughout the city.