Located an hour and a half from Dublin and just under two hours from Cork, Kilkenny is one of those fairly central places that many of us are guilty of just passing through. Known for its stag and hen parties, there is way more to the city where its citizens call themselves Cats and constantly boast about just how good they are at hurling...
This summer, skip the airport queues, dodge the restricted baggage allowance and enjoy a STAYCATION in wonderful Kilkenny; the following eight reasons will have you convinced in minutes:
1. Kilkenny Castle
Outdoor cinemas, music weekends and free Wednesdays, Kilkenny Castle is an abundance of fun and frolics for kids and parents alike. Built at the start of the thirteenth century, this high commanding, majestic building stands over the River Nore and is a sight for sore eyes. The architecture, the design and the history are intriguing enough for adults and the incredible gardens invite kids to run around and release any pent up energy!
2. The Medieval Mile
From Kilkenny Castle, National Craft Gallery and the Shee Alms House to Tholsel Town Hall, Grace’s Castle and St John’s Priory, the Medieval Mile will take you on a journey through the city’s medieval history and allow you tick off some important tourist hotspots along the way. Don't forget to pop into the quirky little cafés and pubs that line your route for some well-deserved refreshment.
3. Lyrath Estate
For a truly relaxing and indulgent Kilkenny experience you totally need to stay (or even enjoy a spot of lunch) in Lyrath Estate in the city. Not only is the 5-star hotel centrally located, they have also organised plenty of fun for the kids over the summer: let them test their football skills in a game of bubble soccer, learn some gardening skills or even try the fun bungee. And for mums? You'll enjoy indulging in the very chic and welcoming award-winning spa.
4. The hurling
Known as the best hurling team in the country - ahem - the home of the famous Kilkenny Cats will take you on a historical journey of the oldest and fastest field game in the world: hurling. Embracing the black and yellow stripes, you and the kids can learn some of the skills from the very talented Kilkenny Way coaches and then watch a match on the screen while indulging in a fresh bowl of lamb stew – sounds perfect!
5. The Black Abbey
Take some time out from the hustle and bustle of the city and embrace the silence and sanctuary that is the Black Abbey. Built in 1225 by the Dominicans, you’ll feel like you are stepping back in time as soon as your foot is placed over the threshold. Located along the Medieval Mile, 20 minutes in the peacefulness of this abbey will rejuvenate you enough to get back out on the tourist trail. Not one to be walked by, even the kids will settle down as they embrace the silence.
6. The festivals
Kilkenny has PLENTY of festivals that will keep everyone entertained: Abhainn Ri Festival (24th June - 3rd July) offers plenty of food, comedy, sport, music and fun; the Leinster Fleadh 2016 (4th – 10th July) showcases Ireland’s music; and, finally, the Kilkenny Arts Festival (5th – 14th August) highlights our incredible talent.
7. The Dunmore Caves
For a truly unique view of Kilkenny you’ll need to head underground to the Dunmore Caves. Apparently, it’s here where the city got its famous nickname the Kilkenny Cats as felines used to inhabit the north caves (although there are plenty of other myths and stories surrounding the name!). Consisting of a series of chambers, both you and the kids will learn a thing or two about stalactites and stalagmites (or help jog your memory from your Geography days) and the Viking massacre that occurred in the year 928AD.
8 The Truffle Fairy Café
All chocoholics will be like pigs in muck in this chocolatey heaven tourist hotspot. Set up by Mary Teehan back in 2005, here you can relax in the comfy café and let the kids indulge their wildest fantasies – sure they’re on holidays.
So whether you plan on treating yourself at Lyrath Estate (www.lyrath.com) or doing a little underground exploring, Kilkenny is one county you NEED to tick off your bucket list this summer.