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Explore Kilkenny medieval city in Ireland’s Ancient East and experience a glimpse of its past with our famous walking tour.
Sitting on stunning river Nore, Kilkenny is one of the most atmospheric and compact of medieval cities consisting of narrow slipways, historic landmarks, cheerful pubs and bright-coloured shop fronts.

Kilkenny’s rich medieval heritage is evident in the city’s treasure trove of historical buildings and landmarks, exemplified by the magnificent Kilkenny Castle. Kilkenny is arguably the pre-eminent medieval city in Ireland, with the current layout of the city clearly grounded in the city’s medieval roots.

However, the city’s origins predate the medieval landmarks existing today. Saint Canice founded a monastic settlement in Kilkenny in the sixth century, unfortunately the sole remaining landmark from this settlement is the round tower positioned alongside the cathedral.

Strongbow, the legendary Norman invader, built a fort in the twelfth century on the site where Kilkenny Castle stands today. Subsequent to this event, William Marshall (Strongbow’s son-in-law and Earl of Pembroke) oversaw the building and maintenance of fortified city walls thus consolidating the Norman’s position of power in the city.

However, it wasn’t until the seventeenth century that Kilkenny really entered its golden age. The parliament known as the Confederation of Kilkenny was founded in 1641. One of the parliament’s main objectives was to unite resistance against English persecution of Irish Catholics. With the emergence of this parliament, Kilkenny entered a period of unparalleled success. Over time, however, the influence of the Confederation of Kilkenny diminished. Oliver Cromwell’s arrival in Kilkenny heralded the dissolution of the parliament, and the city never quite regained the prosperity it had previously been celebrated for.

Fast-tracking to the present, it is important to note that a substantial portion of the landmarks illustrating Kilkenny’s medieval past still exist. Allied to this historical heritage, it is important to recognise that the city prides itself on its lively cultural scene, with important events hosted annually in the city. These events include the Arts Week Festival in the last two weeks of August, and the Cats Laughs Festival at the beginning of June. During the Arts Week Festival a variety of classical music events take place, along with art exhibitions, literary reading, jazz & folk sessions, and so on. At the Cats Laughs Festival, celebrated comedians from throughout the world perform in the city’s clubs, pubs and theaters.

All in all, a visit to Kilkenny is a richly rewarding experience with a variety of interesting places to see and things to do.