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The Castles of Ireland: Kilkenny Castle

The Castles of Ireland: Kilkenny Castle

Katie Rhodes |

In the heart of Kilkenny City, a medieval city located in southeastern Ireland, is home to preserved castles, abbeys and alms houses for the poor built in the 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th centuries.

Rising from both banks of the River Nore is Kilkenny Castle, was built in 1195, with additions made in the early 13th century. It wasn't until the 20 h century that the castle was opened to tourists, who have since thronged to this ancient city to see the glorious castle each year.

At and near the castle are art exhibits, crafts festivals and a terraced rose garden amid 50 acres of lush grounds. At Creative Irish Gifts, we celebrate the castles of Ireland with our popular Irish landscape and architecture calendars and books, as well as our gorgeous Belleek Porcelain Irish Castle Luminary made in Ireland.

Located in the heart of Kilkenny City, Kilkenny Castle is 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.

History of Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle was originally built by William Marshal, 4th Earl of Pembroke, during the late 12th century and early 13th century. At Marshal's direction, work on Kilkenny Castle in 1192. The first major improvement was construction of a stone castle on the grounds in 1260. Three of the four stone castle towers still stand today.

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 ($61), transferring ownership to the people of Kilkenny.

In 1969, the ancient city's 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.

The Grounds of Kilkenny Castle

Fifty acres of gardens, trees 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 imposing 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 - 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.

A Visit to Kilkenny Castle

Whether you are attending an event or simply want to take in the history and scenery onsite, Kilkenny Castle allows visitors to step back in time and view architectural details as well as furnishings from the centuries-old castle.

The Butler Gallery, formerly located in the castle's basement, was moved to a site till near the castle to reopen as a contemporary Irish art gallery. St. Canice's Cathedral is home to a beautiful and big stained glass window. Parks and waterways offer outside activities ranging from hurling at Nowlan Park to padding past ancient buildings in canoes or rafts.

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 Learn more about Ireland's other famous castles, landmarks and art at