If you’re ever visiting this part of Ireland, Kilkenny Castle is a must-see attraction. We visited on a rainy January afternoon and it made for a great day out. I really enjoy learning about Irish history and Kilkenny Castle has a lot to offer in this regard.
Kilkenny Castle History – Snapshot
Kilkenny Castle dates back to the 12th Century. Strongbow the famous viking first built a wooden castle on the site in 1172.
30 years later, his son-in-law, the Earl of Pembroke, William Marshal, built the stone castle. I previously spoke a little about these two in my posts on Hook Lighthouse and Waterford’s Viking Triangle.
Impressively, three of the four original stone towers remain in place to this day. It’s a wonderful structure set in majestic gardens and was lovely to explore in spite of the weather.
Kilkenny Castle Butler Family
As we wandered around we learnt about the Butlers, a wealthy family who purchased the castle in 1391 and held residence until, unfortunately, the two world wars in the early 20th century led to major economic upheavals across Europe, affecting many.
The Butler’s were unable to avoid the turbulance and abandoned the castle in 1935 when they could no longer afford to stay.
Kilkenny Castle remained in its dillapidated state until 1967, when Arthur Butler sold it on to the Castle Restoration and Development Committee, for just £50!
Having since been restored to the wonderful building we visited and under the care of the Office of Public Works since 1969, today Kilkenny Castle is open for the public to explore.
Inside Kilkenny Castle
There is a stunning gallery within the castle. It features a hand-painted roof and many portraits of members of the Butler family from different periods in history.
There is also a stunning library to walk through.
And a wonderful Victorian nursery.
The castle offers views out onto the grounds and across the city.
Kilkenny Castle Tours and Prices
Guided tours run from November to January and take approximately 45 minutes. Otherwise, you can take yourself around at your own pace. Opening times vary throughout the year so they advise to check the website before visiting.
Admission prices are very reasonable, and there are discounts for O.A.P.s, children, students and families. Under 12’s go free.
I was lucky to visit as part of the Local Experts Programme, but the prices are still very fair in my opinion.
Kilkenny Castle Free Events
There are usually a free-to-enter programme of events each year at Kilkenny Castle, which are definitely worth checking out.
Events have previously included specialist talks, workshops, concerts and seasonal events such as light shows and carol singing against the castle’s stunning backdrop.
Kilkenny Castle Location
Kilkenny Castle is conveniently located in the heart of Kilkenny City. If you are staying locally, the castle is easily accessible on foot.
Whilst there are no car parks located within the grounds of the castle, there are many within a stone’s throw in the city centre, which charge very reasonable rates.
Kilkenny City Centre is also serviced by most bus providers and McDonagh Railway Station is a mere 15 minute walk away.
I would really recommend a visit to the castle if you are looking for something to do when in Kilkenny.
If you’re looking for somewhere to lunch, I would also personally recommend a restaurant opposite the entrance to the castle called Anocht. It has great views of the castle and better still, it is located above a wonderful gift shop in the Kilkenny Design Centre, which is also worthy of a visit.
The food is delicious. There are many other local restaurants with great food, but this one just impressed me.
Have you visited Kilkenny Castle? Comment below!
Peace & Love