Kilkenny: The Shining Marble City

Kilkenny Castle aerial view

Kilkenny: The Shining Marble City

06 July 2017
2 min read

Nestled in the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East on the River Nore, Kilkenny City is packed with charm, character and history. Its inhabitants have an infectious passion for arts, crafts and sports, evident throughout the streets of this medieval city.

Originally a monastic settlement that grew into a thriving Anglo-Norman merchant town, the past has left its mark throughout Kilkenny – even its cobbled streets date back to the Middle Ages.

Step back in time and walk the city’s Medieval Mile from St Canice’s Cathedral – the second largest in Ireland with a round tower dating back to the 9th century – to the iconic Kilkenny Castle, home to the powerful Butler dynasty for 600 years.

The city has been a creative hub for hundreds of years. The ubiquitous black Kilkenny marble decoratively adorns architecture throughout the streets, and resulted in the commonly used nickname The Marble City.

The past has left its mark throughout Kilkenny – even its cobbled streets date back to the Middle Ages.

Arts and crafts are flourishing today with some of Ireland’s best known talents occupying spaces throughout the area, including Nicholas Mosse, Chesneau Leathers, Jerpoint Glass and Rudolf Heltzel.

Old juxtaposes with new throughout the city and this is especially evident at Kilkenny Castle. The National Craft Gallery – in the shadow of the structure – showcases the best Irish and international craft, while Butler Gallery within the castle walls houses boundary-pushing modern art.

For sports fans, the summer is an especially important time of year in Kilkenny. Winning the All-Ireland Hurling Championship an astounding 36 times, Kilkenny holds the title for most successful county. It’s tough to find anyone who doesn’t follow the fast-paced Gaelic sport in this medieval city.

With a focus on classical music and theatre, the Kilkenny Arts Festival gives visitors yet another reason to drop by the city this summer. Running from 11-20 August, festival-goers can take a deep-dive on Schubert’s late masterpieces, see Stephen Rea perform Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis and much more.

The Kilkenny Arts Festival – and many more events and programmes – are included in the Creative Ireland Kilkenny plan for 2017. This is just the first step in a five-year initiative to nurture culture and creativity in the area.