Killer Kilkenny, Ireland

‘Killer’… To describe a feeling of amazement

‘You should go to Kilkenny…it’s the best city’, a co-worker tells me.

Not only did our lovely friend suggest we go, she compiled a list of places we should consider. All I knew about Kilkenny was a similar style beer to Guinness called Killkenny, and I liked it, yet I have never found it in the UK. Maybe it’s similar to Fosters in Australia where it was created only for export to unsuspecting countries… maybe the Irish were giving it back to us! I was hoping otherwise.

Check the list below, we spent two full days and nights at the Tourist Hostel…it wasn’t enough time. Although Kilkenny is a compact town there are plenty of areas nearby to explore, or you could relax in one of the many cafes and pubs. 

Senses and Discoveries

A medieval city sprawling across either side of the river, large stone churches, abbeys and the castle  standing  out  against  the  skyline. Kilkenny is large enough to explore with loads of attractions but remains small in the sense of friendly people.

Unbeknownst to us before our arrival, the annual Roots music festival was just starting and celebrating their 20th year. Leather and denim, shaped beards and moustaches and busking musicians dominated the laneways and pubs.

Places of worship are often closed on a Sunday, however in Kilkenny they remain open from about midday onwards…after morning tea is complete. I’m always amazed at the sheer construction considering their age and though many appear the same from the outside, their inside is always unique and beautiful in their own right.

The absolute silence at the Black Abbey struck me. No lights or electrics buzzed and the only smell was of the candles lit in prayer burning in front of St Martin.

A unique opportunity to smell the different hops that go into Smithwick’s ales. 

 Stops we made

Walking up and down laneways with blackened grey signs off the high street brought intrigue and beauty in architecture and street design. The end point generally a well landscaped space, church or another market laneway. 

We took advantage of most venues offering free gigs from midday till the wee hours of the morning. 
On our trip around Ireland we had often heard about the much loved game of Hurling. ‘its a mix  between murder and hockey’, great craic! I was interested in watching a game, but sadly we were there at the wrong time. So when an opportunity came to try it out I took it on! The Hurling Experience, managed by Andrew is the only tour in Ireland which you can have a go whilst learning some history and rules of the game. it is quite a skilful game and took Sarah a while to get used to! A great one of a kind and alternative activity finished with Irish stew at Lannigan’s bar. 

Smithwick’s Brewery, oldest brewery in Ireland and still going strong for over 300 years provides a unique tour with tasting paddles following. Recently their beers are now being brewed at Guinness… I’m not sure this is a good thing as the local water of Kilkenny defined their style and taste. 

Walking past Daniel Bollard’s bar, a Whiskey Flight sign attracted me to have a look inside. The staff were up for a chat and I was up for a whiskey tasting, trying Bushmills, Tullamore Dew and Connemarra. With a serving size of 35.5mls and cost of 12euro it was a great introduction to Irish whiskey. We learnt that the Kilkenny beer, a nitrous ale, was actually first brewed by Smithwick’s but now to is brewed at Guinness. 

Kilkenny Castle, beauty from every angle, inside and out, a perfect place to explore on a rainy day. Despite the owners auctioning off the interior in the 1930s, the redevelopment and renovation since is quite remarkable. 

The design quarter across from the castle provided quality products to admire and tempt. Think Waterford crystal, Aran woollens, gold and silver jewellers, and ceramicists of the utmost quality. These would make fantastic souvenirs if we had space in our packs. 

Sheltered within the Round Tower, taking each ladder to the top to reveal an undisturbed view in every direction in a windswept manner. 

An afternoon rejuvenating stop for espresso and patisseries. The owners of CakeFace produce little desserts and are relocating their kitchen this week, two doors down which no doubt reduces the safe transportation of fine goods. 

An evening meal at Zuni courtesy of our fellow co-workers. An intimate setting with dimmed lights, the restaurant full but the noise level controlled. All three courses had a fusion of tasty ingredients that I only wish I could create.

Crisp, clean and fresh.
Crunchy Nori Seaweed, interesting flavours. The type of food that gets you interested in cooking again
The pork cheek so tender and juicy. The pork belly, with only a thin fatty layer doesn’t crack but provides just the right amount of flavour.
Indulgence…. skinny brick of Chocolate and Hazelnut with Guinness icecream

Accommodation

Kilkenny Tourist Hostel

Well priced for amenities offered.

Ideally located on the High street across the road from several bars that cater to different genres. 

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