Rightfully proud that it has maintained its Middle Ages allure, Kilkenny attracts travelers from across the spectrum. While considered a city, it truly feels more like a town with shopping, first-rate pubs, and superb sights all within walking distance.
The center of Kilkenny is a pedestrian-friendly freeway for the masses. While walking, you might notice the slender passageways known as “slips” and other iconic establishments such as Kyteler's Inn (056 772 1064,
Dame Alice Kyteler and her maid, who were pronounced guilty of being witches, made this inn and cellar bar famous.
Dame Alice Kyteler was pardoned for the death of her four previous husbands. When eerie events brought on further accusations of her evil craft, she was able to escape, but her maid was burned at the stake. Look for the sign of a black cat with a quarter moon over its head. That's the place.
Departing from the Kilkenny Tourist Office, Tynan's Walking Tour (087 265 1745 or 056 776 3955) is a popular venue and a valuable historical stroll through Kilkenny's best sights. Tours depart from mid-March to October, Monday–Saturday, 10:30
Rothe House and Garden
Built during the rule of the Tudor dynasty, the Roth House (056 772 2893,
The painstakingly restored Kilkenny Castle (056 770 4100,
One of the antiquities you will learn about on a tour of the Kilkenny Castle includes a decorated heat screen used by women sitting near the fireplace. Resting with one's face shielded from the heat meant a lady's wax makeup would not run. This act eventually led to the coining of the term “saving face.”
Depicting the hardships of its past, the aptly named Black Abbey (056 772 1279) was a Dominican abbey founded in 1225. Thereafter ransacked by Cromwellian forces in the 1650s, it was reopened as a holy place of worship in the early 1800s. Restoration was complete by 1979. The church now stands in its full glory, one of the highlights including a massive stained-glass window completed in the 1890s. Open April–September, daily; October–March, Monday–Saturday. Closed during worship services. Admission free. Donations appreciated.
St. Canice's Cathedral
Also known as Kilkenny Cathedral, St. Canice's Cathedral (056 776 4971) beckons visitors with its dominating view over the city. The current edifice was constructed circa 1200 but was originally established by the patron saint of Kilkenny in the sixth century as a sort of diocese. The round, topless tower sits on the spooky cemetery. Open April, May, September: Monday–Saturday, 10
Climbable by the truly fit and brave, the tower of St. Canice's Cathedral is 30 meters (100 feet) high and 14 meters (50 feet) in girth. A relatively tight fit in some sections, prepare to spend much of your time climbing on all fours. Think twice before taking any children on this climb.