Kilkenny is a well-preserved medieval town and is dominated by both Kilkenny Castle and St. Canice's Cathedral and round tower.
Image: Tourist attractions in Kilkenny, Kilkenny Castle
What to see
Kilkenny Tourist Office (Shee Alms House), Rose Inn St. Not only is this a great place to get information about Kilkenny, it is also a tourist attraction itself. It is in Shee Alms House, a Tudor building built in 1582. It was originally used by the church. before lawyer Richard Shee bought it as a home for the poor. Originally it cared for 12 homeless people, and continued in this purpose for 150 years.
Kilkenny Castle and Gardens, Parade. This stunning Norman Castle, which is the dominant feature in the city, is its principal attraction. It overlooks the River Nore. The Castle is three sided in shape. Inside The Great Hall is very impressive. There is a beautiful rose garden to the front. Its huge forested gardens are beautiful to walk during the day. Access to the grounds is free. There is a charge for seeing inside the castle rooms; although it's a self-guided tour there are some extremely helpful and knowledgeable guides there who will give you value for money.
Black Abbey, Abbey St. Founded in 1225, this impressive Dominican Abbey has beautiful stained glass windows and is itself surrounded by the old city walls. Near the Black Abbey, on Abbey Street is Black Freren Gate, the last surviving gate of the city walls. Free Admission.
Rothe House, Parliament Street, Kilkenny. A unique merchant's house built in the 16th Century. It comprises three houses in the one complex. Behind the house lies recently reinstated gardens. Rothe House contains Kilkenny's History Museum.
St. Canice's Cathedral, Irishtown, Kilkenny. Built over 800 years ago, this impressive Cathedral and round tower are one of Kilkenny's main attractions. It is the second largest medieval Cathedral in the country. With one of Ireland's only accessable Round Towers, on top of which one can see the most amazing view of Kilkenny, this is a must for anyone's trip to Kilkenny. The cathedral itself is wheelchair accessable.
Grace's Courthouse, Parliament Street (Opposite Rothe House). Housing Kilkenny's Court House, this former fortress built in 1210 (Grace's Castle) and then converted into a prison in the 1500s is full of history.
Butler House, Patrick Street (Across the Street from the Castle, through the old stables). This stunning Chateau-like building is one of the residences of the Butler family that ruled Kilkenny for many years. During Arts week it has many exhibitions.
Kilkenny 'Slips', Throughout Kilkenny (Running Perpendicular to High Street). These winding streets that ramble through the city are a true view of Medieval Kilkenny.
St. Mary's Cathedral, James Street, Kilkenny (Just off High Street). This is the Catholic Cathedral for the city. It was built by 1857. It's tower is visible around the city. It is a most impressive limestone structure.
Tholsel, High Street. The Tholsel is in the middle of High Street. It is the town hall. It is a unique arcaded structure built in 1765. Look out for the city's coat of arms over the lowest arch.
Kilkenny Design Centre, Parade (Opposite the Castle). This fabulous stone structure, spanning 19 windows in width and semi circle in form was finished in 1800. The castle was the main house for the Butler family. This was the stables and through here you reached their town house, the aforementioned Butler House.
St Kieran's College, College Road (From the parade, head up Patrick Street, turn right onto Ormonde Road and then continue onto College Road). This is a beautiful Gothic building of national significance completed in 1840. It was originally a boarding school/seminary. It is a famous hurling academy and in newer buildings still functions as a secondary school. The building is private but the grounds can be enjoyed.
St John The Evangelist, Dublin Road (Opposite the train station). This is the finest parish church in the city. This large ornate Gothic Revival church was completed in 1908 and is curious for it's flat roofed main entrance flanked by two bays.
St Canice's Church (RC), Dean Street, Irishtown. This church has a lovely facade and was built by 1827.
County Hall, John Street. This fine seven bay three storey georgian building, built in 1782, houses the bulk of the county's administration offices. In a previous incarnation it was a college.
St Mary's Hall, St Mary's Lane (off High Street). St Mary's Hall formerly St Mary's Church was built in 1250 and was recently bought by the state for 3/4 million euro.
St John's Priory (CoI), John, Kilkenny (on John Street opposite Langtons). St John's Priory was built in 1817 and in the grounds is the ruins of a chapel dating back to 1290.
The Hole in The Wall, off High Street, Kilkenny (opposite St. Mary's Lane). This quaint Elizebethan Tudor house dates from 1582 and features its own snug. It is a historically renowned tavern which has re-opened recently as a boutique arts venue. If its open you will see a swing sign on High Street.
Maudlin Tower, off Maudlin St, Kilkenny (turn right at St John's Priory). This tall tower dates from the 15th century. Their is no internal access but this tall tower is perfectly preserved externally and makes for fascinating viewing.