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Kilkenny, Ireland, Offers Fun for the Whole Family

by Holly Riddle

Nov 10, 2019

Bjoern Alberts | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / Europe

Just a short drive outside Dublin, Kilkenny, Ireland, gives you and your family a large dose of history and culture to explore in one, small, easily walkable destination.


One of the top attractions you’ll want to check out is Kilkenny Castle. The gorgeous structure has been used in some form or fashion for more than 800 years and its current state shows off its Victorian remodel. You can see the interior pretty quickly, unless you want to read all the posted history, but don’t rush through the exterior grounds. The terraced rose garden is lovely and the 50 acres of parkland feature woodlands and a lake. Join the many locals who walk the grounds with their pets or come by for a picnic.


Jerpoint Abbey, a ruined Cistercian abbey near Thomastown, County Kilkenny, Ireland. Photo: MNStudio | Dreamstime.com


Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile is worth exploring, especially if you’re hoping to come across some shopping or a nice place to eat, but make time for one of the mile’s main attractions. Rothe House and Garden was built in the late 1500s and later became the home of a significant merchant and politician. You can take a self-guided or guided tour of the house, courtyard and garden for as little as a few dollars per person, and a garden visit only is even more affordable. The on-site museum houses artifacts of importance to the region, including the skull of a Giant Irish Deer (a species that became extinct more than 10,000 years ago) and a collection of 19th-century clothing.


Nearby, The Black Abbey was established in 1225 and over its lifetime saw political struggles, the Black Death and significant religious changes worldwide. You can still see some of the original church, including the nave and 15th-century tower.


If you have a car at your disposal, you may want to additionally check out some of the attractions right outside Kilkenny’s city limits. Dunmore Cave is a popular pick, as it’s an important archaeological site that’s produced items dated to the 900s. Jerpoint Abbey is likewise less than 30 minutes away, with ruins dating to the 1100s.


If you’re looking for a place to stay, consider Hotel Kilkenny, a 4-star property with a lively restaurant and bar that’s close enough to all of the city’s main sites you can walk to them, but a little bit removed from the action in case you want a quieter atmosphere. Request one of the remodeled rooms when you book your stay.


And when you get hungry, you can find plenty of options along the city’s Medieval Mile. Safe picks include Butcher, an upscale steakhouse with agreeable prices and great views of the street below, and Petronella, a cozy eatery tucked into a cute alcove and serving a menu with options suitable for those with dietary restrictions.


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