TOP 10: Places you must see in Co. Kilkenny

5. Saint Francis’s Abbey Brewery


In the 13th century Franciscan monks founded the Abbey and started brewing ale from the Friar’s well. Richard Cole let the land from the Duke of Ormond and established the brewing business with John Smithwick, a Catholic who was forbidden from owning assets. In 1710, John Smithwick took secret possession of the brewery and spent the next decades developing the business.  Nine generations of Smithwicks have been involved in the business ever since.

4. The Tholsel


Originally this was a multi-purpose building and dates back to 1761. It served as a booth or collection point for the tolls, also city hall or courthouse.  This pretty stoned structure now houses Kilkenny’s City Hall and used as a space for exhibitions during Kilkenny’s annual Arts Festival. Under the Tholsel are cellars which are utilised for storing of the Christmas Crib which is displayed in the forecourt every Christmas. There are fine views of the city from the roof of the building, just below the clock tower. Below is the view North alongside High Street and Parliament Street, with St. Canice’s Cathedral can be observed in the distance.

3. Dunmore Cave


One of Ireland’s limestone caves, this one is famous for a Viking massacre of 928, in which nearly a thousand of innocent people were murdered. This Irish cave consists of a series of chambers which were formed over the centuries and has some of the oldest calcite formations. It also contains the Market Cross which is nearly 6 meters in length. The cave became a show cave in the late 1960 with first tour taking place in 1967.

2. Jerpoint Abbey


Extraordinary example of Cistercian monastery with a magnificently sculptured cloister arcade.  Abbey dates back to 1158 and was founded by the King of Ossory. This abbey is looked after by Office of Public Works and it is open all year around for visits, though opening times may vary. The Visitor Centre houses an interesting exhibition and guided tours are available.

1. Kilkenny Castle


Kilkenny Castle was built by Normans and was completed in 1213. The castle had an important role in the defenses of the town and was later occupied by several influential families.  A visit to Kilkenny Castle can include more than just taking a guided tour. Explore the gardens and take a stroll along the river Nore. Families with younger kids will appreciate the fact that the grounds feature a playground, and any and all visitors can benefit from the big restaurant where you can hot and cold beverages and snacks.

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