The small city of Kilkenny is known for its eponymous castle and preservation of its medieval history, but this Irish destination also offers lively nightlife and great shopping. The town is a popular weekend destination for many Irish denizens. Whether interested in history, shopping or a vibrant nightlife, Kilkenny offers all in a condensed, easily navigated city center. From Dublin Airport, one can reach Kilkenny by train, bus or rented car. Upon arriving in town, the easiest way to get around is by foot.
The best-known attraction is Kilkenny Castle. Centrally located on the Parade, the castle boasts impressive surrounding gardens. The entry fee of only five Euros is well worth it. After touring the building and gardens, skip across the street to the Kilkenny Design Craft Centre . The Centre sells jewelry, knitwear, pottery and other goods made by local artisans. Lunch in the Kilkenny Design Craft Centre is a must, as its restaurants offer foods loved by tourists and locals alike. A light meal of potato and leek soup, accompanied by freshly made brown bread is the perfect cure for the chilly Kilkenny weather.
The city has preserved many churches, abbeys and other Catholic vestiges. Black Abbey, on Abbey Street, is free to the public and contains impressive stained glasswork. St. Canice’s Cathedral, in Irishtown, was built in the early 13th Century and is one of the city’s main attractions. The neighboring Round Tower offers the best views in the city.
For a religious experience of a different sort, tour St. Francis Abbey Brewery. The oldest brewery in Ireland and home of Smithwicks Ale is an institution in Kilkenny.
The best way to enjoy Kilkenny, however, is to simply wander around the cobblestone streets, occasionally stopping in a pub for a pint or partaking in some shopping. High Street holds most of the city’s retail shops, ranging from tourist stores loaded with all matter of items plastered with the Irish flag to boutiques offering the latest fashions.
Most restaurants in town offer comforting Irish fare. Sample traditional dishes like bacon with parsley sauce or stuffed leg of lamb at Kyteler’s Inn, a medieval tavern with a haunted past. Café Sol on William Street is a popular destination, offering self-described Irish fusion cuisine. For late night fare, visit any number of chip shops or try Irish fast food at Abrakebabra on Ross Inn Street. This chain caters to the pub crowds and offers various options, like kebabs, burgers and various fried items.
Perhaps what Kilkenny has become best known for as of late is its nightlife. From local pubs to dance clubs, the city centre is packed after hours. If you’re looking to sample brews in a quieter setting, visit any number of pubs and bars along Parliament Street, such as The Pumphouse or Cleere’s, where live Irish music is played Monday nights. Matt the Miller’s, a pub on John Street, is frequented by both locals and visitors. For a younger crowd and discoteques, visit John Street. Langstons Club is an ever-popular destination for dancing.
A trip to Kilkenny in southeast Ireland offers visitors a chance to experience the country away from tourist-clogged Dublin.
Written by Morgen Young for EuropeUpClose.com