Hear ye, Hear ye! We are headed to the South-East region of Ireland where we can find County Kilkenny, also referred to by the locals as ‘’Cats’’. You may think this is because there are loads of felines crawling through the city but the origin behind this nickname is unknown. What we do know is that Kilkenny City has been known as ‘’Marble City’’ for centuries on end and that this county is a one-stop-shop for any medieval fanatic. County Kilkenny boasts many a castle and a ton of medieval history in its midst, so lets explore our favorite places to visit:
1. Dunmore caves
Dunmore caves is a geologist’s dream! Its limestone chambers have some of Ireland’s most spectacular calcite formations, which have been in the works for millions of years. In fact, these caves are so impressive they were referred to in Irish literature more than once. A ninth century poem in the Triads of Ireland describes these caves as one the darkest places in Ireland. The Annals of the Four Masters which chronicles medieval Irish history mentions a slaughter of 1000 people by Vikings in AD 928 within these same caves. Although this has never been confirmed, archaeological findings count remains from 44 different people… Would you dare to venture into such a dark place?
2. Jerpoint Abbey
Any good medieval buff knows that a visit to Jerpoint Abbey is mandatory. The ruins of this 12th century religious site, located in Kilkenny’s countryside, still reminiscent of times long past, lets you live the religious stories and legends through its rich architectural features. In this old monastery is where you may visit the mensa tombs or you can venture a little further up towards the lost town of Newtown Jerpoint where, rumor has it, Saint Nicholas (yes, Father Christmas) is resting in its tombs.
3. Rothe House & Garden
The Rothe House & Garden houses a museum and is the only property of its type open to the public in Ireland, making it a must on your Irish bucket list. This hidden gem made up of three houses on a burgage plot was built in the early 17th century (talk about history!). If you so wish to visit the garden, you will be delighted to know that it is a recreation of the original Rothe House garden in the early 1600’s. Stroll though the gardens to admire Deer Tongue lettuce, Sweet Rocket, Scarlet Crofton apples, medlars and much more. It will be as if you were travelling back in time.
4. Butterslip Lane
This street has quite a funky name but we promise a quick visit down this picturesque, narrow medieval street will not result in you slipping on a stick of butter. You may slip on some wet cobblestones as, nestled between two large stones houses, this street was named to represent its rich history in being the best location for butter vendors. Its dark and cool features made it the perfect temperature to produce and sell this milk derivative product back in the day. If you aren’t interested in the cute shops that now fill this street, you can always use Butterslip Lane as a shortcut between High Street and St. Kieran’s Street (who doesn’t love a charming shortcut).
5. Butler gallery
Butler gallery is one of Ireland’s best contemporary art spaces and is located within the Evan’s Home. Established in 1943, this gallery showcases the works of Irish emerging artists all the while having a permanent exhibit. Some of the exhibited works date back to the 1800’s until nowadays. Take a gander at Ireland’s artistic talent over the years.
County Kilkenny has so much history to offer, it’s as though you cannot cover it all in a short trip. Don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path where possible and if a taste of its medieval history left you craving for more, keep visiting Ireland’s other counties which also have some rich history for you to experience.