Kilkenny, in the heart of Ireland’s ancient East, offers a broad range of family activities. All represent good value and some are even free. Here’s our top five.
5. Kilkenny Castle and Gardens
Kilkenny Castle, which dates back to the late 12th century, is a traditional favourite of holidaymakers. Seated at the crossing point of the River Nore Kilkenny castle was home to generations of the Dukes of Ormonde. The castle offers a tour for families at €20. A highlight is the beautifully restored rooms and the Long Gallery.
After that take a stroll around the wonderfully kept gardens, wander down to feed the ducks, take the steps down to the River Nore or let the little ones play in the much-used playground. What’s better, all of that is for free!
4. Experience Hurling in Nowlan Park
Sporting families will no doubt have heard of the fastest field game in the world, hurling. Nowlan Park, no more than a couple of hundred metres beyond the top of John’s Street, is Kilkenny’s home of Gaelic Games. You may be lucky enough to experience the fittest and best hurlers play for their county in the Championship, or an equally exhilarating experience as the best club’s in Kilkenny battle each other over the summer. Tickets are freely available from the office booth on the Hebron Road. Adults €20, children €5 (generally). Watch local newspapers for dates and times of games.
3. Kilkenny Arts Festival Kids’ Events
Running for over 30 years the Kilkenny Arts Festival is a certain highlight of late summer. Stretching over more than a week towards the middle of August, the Arts Festival brings all forms of art to this Medieval city. Family and children events are scattered all over the city. A range of activities from crafts, music, animation, theatre, puppetry and many more are on offer. Many shows and exhibitions are free and are family friendly. Some shows need to be booked through the Arts Festival website or through their office in the town during the festival.
2. Castlecomer Discovery Park
If the energy is still there and an adrenaline thrill is what you and your family is after then head immediately to the old coal-mining town of Castlecomer, no more than 20 minutes outside of the city itself. The Discovery Park offers the longest zip line in Ireland, not for the faint-hearted this one! Up for more? Try the Tree Top Walk and Climbing Wall. More you say? Archery, kayaking, fishing or…slow it all down and experience the mining heritage of the town in its museum. Or, for the little ones visit the enchanting Elf and Fairy Village. What’s guaranteed is fun, smiles and adventure. Activities range from €5 up.
1. Dunmore Caves
Saving the best for last, families will love the Dunmore Caves. Again, no more than 10 minutes outside the city, another adventure lies waiting. A series of limestone caves can be toured with a guide for as little as €13 for a family. The massively knowledgeable guides will fascinate young and old alike with the frequently gory history of the caves. Watch out for the guide who is seriously multi-lingual when it comes to bats! The caves boast wonderful examples of stalagmites and stalactites. The highlight of the tour comes when…all…the…lights…get…switched…off! Have fun!