…that is, Welcome to Kilkenny!
If you’re tired of Dublin and the tourist traps, and you’re just looking for a nice day-trip in Ireland, take a look at Kilkenny. It’s a city about an hour’s train ride out of Dublin with Irish Rail through a beautiful countryside.
The town itself was built in 1195 and used as a Norman merchant town. If you visit Kilkenny now, it is considered a town because King James I granted Kilkenny a Royal Charter which gave it the status of a city. It was just in 2009 that the City of Kilkenny celebrated its 400th year of becoming a city. The city was a very religious based town, so it has a series of different churches and cathedrals.
I would recommend checking out St. Mary’s Cathedral and St. Canice’s Cathedral to start. St. Canice’s Cathedral used to be known as the Kilkenny Cathedral and dates back to the 13th century. It is the second longest cathedral in Ireland. When we visited St. Canice’s Cathedral, we didn’t have enough time to take a tour of the cathedral, but we were able to climb the Round Tower. If you’re only able to do a select few things in Kilkenny, definitely fit the Round Tower climb on the list. It’s the oldest surviving structure in the city, and you’re allowed to CLIMB IT! It’s a 7 story climb up wooden stairs that requires the use of both hands and feet, and it slowly gets narrower as you go up. At the top is a breathtaking view of the city with the surrounding mountains.
Next up on the list is Kilkenny Castle which is also a must-see while you’re here. This was the first fortification built in Kilkenny, and it was constructed of wood for Strongbow. If you decide to study abroad in Ireland, you will hear Strongbow’s name just about everywhere you go. In fact, Eden talked about him in her #WhatsTheCraic post just yesterday!
Strongbow had land all around Europe, so he appointed Geoffrey Robert to develop the castle further. The first series of stone structure was completed in 1213, and it had the structure of a square. It was eventually bought by the Butler family in the 13th century. The Butler family did fairly well up until the 18th century when a family member ran themselves bankrupt and the castle was eventually left to deteriorate. The Butler family attempted to rebuild the castle in the 19th century and since then the castle has had constant restorations. When we visited, they were excavating in the front yard where Strongbow’s original wooden structure was!! The tour is about an hour long, but you will be able to see original structures from the Butler family and all the extensions. At the very end of the tour, they take you to the gallery room which holds original portraits of the Butler family and other important tapestries of extended family. My classmate Maddie just posted this week about some of her Butler family roots, if you’re interested in checking out her posts on Wednesdays to learn more about #IrishRoots.
Last up on the list is the Smithwick’s brewery tour. The Smithwick family began brewing in the 1700’s until 2014. Smithwick’s beer was purchased by Guinness and is now brewed in Dublin and sold all across the world. It is considered one of Ireland’s oldest breweries. Smithwick’s brewing dates back to the Franciscan monastery called St. Francis Abbey. It’s a small tour so you’ll have a tour guide to take you through the history of Smithwick’s and of course, you get your “free” pint at the end. My classmate Sam wrote about our Smithwick’s Experience on #BrewsdayTuesday of this week.
Thanks for reading up on Kilkenny! I would highly recommend a day trip here with a group of friends if you’re looking to get out of Dublin for a bit. Next week we’re on Fall Break so make sure to check back in for the Dublin Bloggers to return the week of October 14!