The Castles of Ireland: Kilkenny Castle

Located in the heart of Kilkenny City (it’s just a 15-minute walk from McDonagh Railway Station), Kilkenny Castle is a popular destination for tourists who wish to make a day trip from Dublin. Here’s a bit of its history and what you can expect to do and see on a visit today.


Kilkenny Castle was originally built by William Marshal, 4th Earl of Pembroke, during the early 13th century. In the 1390s, it was sold to the Butler family and was home to their descendants for close to 600 years. In the 1930s, this family sold the majority of the castle’s contents before Arthur, 6th Marquess of Ormonde and a member of the Butler family, presented it to the city of Kilkenny for the sum of £50. In 1969, the Office of Public Works took over the care of the historical building. Since its original construction, the Anglo-Norman stone structure has received several additions and numerous alterations, making it what it is today.

The Grounds:

Gardens and green space surround the castle, and many of their features have been recently restored. A formal garden with a central fountain and radiating pathways is located on the west side of the castle. Additionally, guests will see two lead statues near the castle: Diana the Huntress and a version of Hermes that is modeled after the original that is located in the Vatican. The Parade Tower wing of the castle, which is now a modern center dedicated to special events such as conferences, weddings, and dinners features an entrance that is flanked by gates from the 17th century.

What to Do at Kilkenny Castle:

Whether you are attending an event or simply want to take in the history and scenery onsite, Kilkenny allows visitors to step back in time and view architectural details as well as furnishings from the castle’s more than 700 years. From the first of February through the end of October, all visits are self-guided. In the slower winter months, visits are only available by guided tour. Aside from the interior, many visitors note that the grounds alone are worth the trip.

Learn more about Kilkenny Castle and plan your visit at


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