Kilkenny Castle is synonymous with the Butler Family. The Butlers were Earls, Marquesses, and Dukes of Ormonde, living in the castle for more than five hundred years. Lady Margaret Butler was the paternal grandmother of Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII.
Kilkenny Castle, overlooking the banks of the River Nore, has been a significant historic site since Strongbow or Richard de Clare, second Earl of Pembroke, constructed the first castle on the site (probably a wooden structure) in the 12th century.
Tours of Kilkenny Castle are available all year round. Booking during summer is advisable. Guided and self-guided tours are offered, depending on time of year.
St Canice’s Cathedral was built between 1202 and 1285. It stands on an important ecclesiastical site and has been a place of Christian prayer for over 800 years. Cill Channigh is Gaelic for The Church of Canice, that which originally stood on the site in the 6th century.
The cathedral is Early Gothic and limestone. The See Chair of the Bishop of Ossory dates back to 1120. The cathedral contains some 16th century monuments and tombstones. Notable stained glass windows, including two windows from the Harry Clarke Studio in Dublin, are a favourite with visitors.
The adjoining 9th century Round Tower is the oldest standing structure in Kilkenny City and is one of only two that may be climbed in Ireland. Tourists can enjoy climbing the Round Tower, weather permitting. The ascent is well worth the effort as it affords panoramic views over the medieval city of Kilkenny.
Ballykeefe Distillery is The Birthplace of Irish Whiskey. It is located among the beautiful Irish countryside of the medieval capital, Kilkenny City. At Ballykeefe Distillery they produce a range of super-premium spirits in an eco-friendly environment.
The first written account of distilling whiskey in Ireland comes from Kilkenny in 1324. It was written in the Red Book of Ossory. The word “Whiskey” is an Anglicisation of the Gaelic phrase “uisce beatha” which means “water of life”.
Take the tour of Ballykeefe and discover the roots of Irish Whiskey. Tours are available from the months of April to October and can be booked through the website.
300 years of brewing experience is recounted in this immersive, sensorially engaging attraction. Discover the history of Smithwick’s, Ireland’s oldest beer. Witness the fascinating heritage of the Smithwick’s family and their significant standing in Kilkenny history.
Summer opening hours:
Monday – Sunday: 10am – 6pm
Tours leave every hour, on the hour. Final daily admission is 5pm.
Avail of 10% discount as a Lyrath Estate guest. This includes a 10% discount off adult tickets, in addition to 10% off any purchases in the retail store.
Rothe House is the only example of an early 17th century merchant’s townhouse in Ireland. Rothe House was built between 1594 and 1610 by John Rothe Fitz Piers. The house is comprised of three buildings, one behind the other. The additional buildings were added in 1604 and 1610 to accommodate the merchant’s growing family of twelve children.
The Rothe Family, along with a handful of other wealthy families, dictated Kilkenny’s trade and controlled its civic government from the late Middle Ages until the 17th Century. Rothe House is open to the public as a museum, displaying some of the 2,500 artefacts collected by the Kilkenny Archaeological Society since its founding in 1947.
Rothe House Gardens opened in 2008 and are a reconstruction of an early 17th century urban walled garden. The half-acre gardens are also open to the public.
Woodstock Gardens and Arboretum in Inistioge, County Kilkenny dates back to 1740. The gardens were once known as some of the finest in Ireland. The development of the gardens occurred in the Victorian Period, but unfortunately, it fell into disrepair. The gardens and arboretum have been carefully restored by Kilkenny County Council and notably contain a selection of ‘champion’ trees. Woodstock overlooks the Nore River Valley and is the ideal spot for a daytrip.
Woodstock constitutes a mix of formal and informal gardens, with the walled garden, terraced garden, and rose garden being of primary interest. The arboretum has a collection of rare and exotic trees including a ‘Champion’ Coast Redwood, the tallest Silver Fir in Ireland, and the very rare Bentham Cypress. Visit two stunning avenues; the Monkey Puzzle Avenue (Chilean Pine) and Noble Fir Avenue.