Welcome to Kilkenny
Once the medieval capital of Ireland, the city has a rich medieval heritage visible though its narrow streetscapes; its historical buildings and landmarks.
The city’s origins predate existing medieval landmarks. Saint Canice (who gives Kilkenny its name) founded a monastic settlement here in the 6th century. The 9th century round tower beside the wonderful stone cathedral of St Canice’s, is a remaining monastic landmark. Built in the 13th century and a showcase to ornate stonemasonry skills, St Canice’s is the second longest Cathedral in Ireland.
Strongbow, the legendary Norman invader, built a fort in the 12th C on the site where Kilkenny Castle stands today. William Marshall (Strongbow’s son-in-law, 4th Earl of Pembroke) fortified the city walls, built a stone castle on the site and consolidated the Norman’s position of power in the city.
Ireland’s only witch trials took place in Kilkenny in 1324 (supposedly Europe’s 1st witchcraft trials). Dame Alice Kyteler (Innkeeper and Moneylender) was accused of using poison and sorcery against her four husbands, having amassed a fortune from them. Before she could be tried, Alice fled to England, but her maid was flogged and burned at the stake.
The city prides itself on its lively culture and entertainment scene with a range of live music and theatre events available throughout the city’s pubs and music venues. An array of festivals and event programmes are hosted annually, including the renowned Kilkenny Arts Festival (August) which features a variety of classical music events, art exhibitions, literary readings, workshops, jazz & folk sessions. Other festivals include Smithwick’s Kilkenny Roots Festival – Music Festival (May); Kilkenny Cat Laughs – Comedy Festival (June); International Gospel Choir Festival (Aug/Sept); Greystock Festival – (Sept); Savour Food Festival (Oct) and Kilkenomics Festival (Nov).
Kilkenny is also renowned as a world class craft centre, which has its origins in the Design workshops of the late 1960s’, the story of which can be explored in the Castle Yard site.
One of the best and unique features of Kilkenny is its compactness allowing you explore everything it has to offer on foot, just be sure to allow yourself enough time to experience it all. Enjoy our city!