Tour Kilkenny Castle and Step Back in History

Kilkenny City is called the medieval capital of Ireland, in large part because of Kilkenny Castle. Many travelers make it a point to include the castle and the surrounding community in their tour of Ireland. Killkenny City, in the county of the same name, is about a two-hour drive from Dublin, in Ireland's Southeast Region.

Kilkenny Castle stands on the shore of the Nore River, which provides a beautiful backdrop to the gardens and castle grounds. You can stroll through the property on the paved path and take photographs of the castle from many viewpoints.

The castle has survived many wars and countless renovations throughout its long history. Strongbow built the original castle on the location as early as 1172, but his enemies destroyed it shortly after. The current structure was built in the early thirteenth century by Strongbow’s son-in-law William Marshall, the Earl of Pembroke.

The castle has survived many wars and countless renovations throughout its long history. Strongbow built the original castle on the location as early as 1172, but his enemies destroyed it shortly after. The current structure was built in the early thirteenth century by Strongbow’s son-in-law William Marshall, the Earl of Pembroke.

The famous Butler family owned the castle for the majority of its history. The castle was reconstructed many times, but the original shape—a trapezoid called a “keepless”—has been largely preserved. More recent restorations returned the library, drawing room, bedrooms and gardens to their early 1800s condition.

When I visited Kilkenny Castle in Ireland, I took a tour of the castle. I love to take castle tours when I visit Ireland. The tour guides not only describe the local history, but also add bits of fascinating fact. For instance, on the tours of the bedrooms, our guide pointed out the short beds. He explained that, for many years, people sat up in bed because of the lung problems caused by living in damp, moldy conditions.

Those conditions are not nearly the worst state the castle has been in, however. Kilkenny Castle in Ireland has endured some tough times. The northeast tower and east wall of the Castle were heavily damaged during a Cromwellian siege in 1650. Then in the 18th Century, the Butler family owner and Duke, was forced out of the country to live in exile. Without him, the castle became decrepit. In 1935, the Butler family left the castle for good, ending their centuries-long ownership and selling their impressive collection of artwork in an auction. Once more, the castle was neglected and fell into a haggard condition.

The Butlers eventually gave ownership to the State, which began extensive restorations in 1973. Visitors can now see the hall with its original 18th century walls and flagged floor. The elaborate ceiling was reconstructed to look like the original. Experts and artists restored the 150-foot long picture gallery in the east wing, adding a hand-carved chimney depicting the Butler family’s history. While the gallery lacks the original renowned painting collection, it is still worth a look. So while Kilkenny Castle in Ireland may not be completely authentic, many important features are original and the reconstructions reflect the past perfectly.

When you take a tour of the castle, you will enjoy the former servants’ quarters that have been converted to a large, open art gallery showing works of modern art. Summer visitors can also enjoy the tearoom that operates from the old castle kitchen.

The bookstore at Kilkenny Castle in Ireland is very extensive. I found many books that helped with my study of Irish castles.

The importance of the arts is reflected in the nearby town of Kilkenny. You will find works created by jewelers, woodworkers, crafters who specialize in pottery and a number of other artisans who work in the area. Plays are performed in the city and the annual arts festival always attracts large crowds.

In addition to a tour of Kilkenny Castle in Ireland and a visit to the local art galleries, you will want to explore the neighborhood pubs and restaurants.

There are other attractions in Kilkenny that you may want to visit. The tudor style Rothe House on Parliament Street is now a museum. It dates from the 1590s when it was a meeting place for the leaders of the Confederation.

Golfers will find plenty of choices at the Kilkenny Golf Club, the Castlecomer Golf Club and the Mount Juliet Conrad Hotel golf course.

There are many other nearby attractions. Dunmore Cave is located on the Castlecomer Road. It features a series of chambers that were formed over millions of years. Jerpoint Abbey is a nearby monastic ruin. The abbey was founded in the second half of the 12th century. Nore View Folk & Heritage Museum in the village of Bennettsbridge is not far from Kilkenny.

You will want to arrange part of your trip to Ireland around a visit to Kilkenny Castle. Kilkenny offers a unique perspective into the history of the country and to the southeast region of Ireland.

Here is a map of the area near Kilkenny Castle:






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