Regularly voted Ireland’s friendliest city, Kilkenny is a welcoming and historic place, famous for its beer and castles. There are also a number of local gold- and silversmiths here who make lovely jewellery.
The area rose to prominence in the 13th century along with the powerful Anglo-Norman Butler family, the Earls of Ormond. Their castle rises above a bend in the River Nore, looking out over a modern urban core with plenty of historic nooks.
Design and beer
St Canice founded the monastic settlement here in the sixth century and by the 13th century the adjacent town had become an important base for Norman rule in Leinster. These days it’s an important base for design. The Kilkenny Design Centre draws on the skills of more than 200 artisans from all over Ireland, creating a nationally recognised outlet for a wide range of crafts. The emphasis is on natural fibres and materials, be they linen, silk, wool or cashmere for clothing, silver and gold for jewellery, locally made, hand-blown Jerpoint glassware, or traditional and contemporary gifts made from wood and porcelain.
The city is also known for its beer – Smithwick’s brewery occupies the site of the old Franciscan friary.