Kilkenny is the Ireland of many visitors' imaginations and dreams. Known as the 'marble city' due to being built from dark grey limestone flecked with seashells, it is one of the southeast's most visited tourist destinations and a popular weekend getaway for many Irish citizens. Narrow lanes and historic buildings can be found between the cathedral and castle along the bank of the River Nore producing one of Ireland's most creative towns.
Many fine restaurants, pubs, cafes and shops can be found in Kilkenny; which lies just 75km souteast of Dublin and is split in two by the River Nore. Most sights of interest lie on the west side of the river. As Ireland's Medieval Capital, it offers the traveller a mixture of an exciting vibrant night-life, beautiful street-scapes, great shopping opportunities and a rich cultural heritage. 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".
Well regarded for its cultural life, Kilkenny has always tended to attract culturally aware visitors. Art galleries, historic buildings, craft and design workshops, theatre, comedy, public gardens and museums are some of main reasons Kilkenny has become one of Ireland's most visited locations and a popular base from which to explore the surrounding countryside.
Image: Kilkenny, Ireland
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.
Kilkenny had a tradition of dramatic performance going back to 1366 when the Dublin company set up in Kilkenny.
The Watergate Theatre in Kilkenny is a centre for the performing and visual arts. It provides a varied programme of professional and amateur dramatics, classical and contemporary music, opera and dance, together with regular exhibitions of paintings and photographs. The theatre plays an important role in the cultural, artistic and literary life of Kilkenny along with its festivals, professional and amateur theatre companies.
The Set Theatre is also a smaller theatre located on John Street in Kilkenny.