Kilkenny is recognised as the heritage capital of Ireland - and for great reason. Kilkenny City and County are full of beautiful and engaging heritage attractions - below we have put together some handy heritage itineraries to help you discover Kilkenny's vibrant heritage and hidden cultural gems.
Then visit Rothe House and enjoy the tranquil Garden, followed by a short stroll to the Black Abbey. Finally, pop into the Chapter House of St Mary's Cathedral, before embarking on the Kilkenny Way Tour to learn about Kilkenny's extraordinary Hurling Heritage!
North East Kilkenny
Located 10km from Kilkenny City on the Castlecomer Rd, visit Dunmore Cave, which contains some of the finest calcite formations found in any Irish cave.
Continue on the same road and enjoy a stroll amongst the deer at Jenkinstown Park, before journeying onto Castlecomer Discovery Park, which has the Jarrow café, a fascinating coal-mining interpretative museum and a craft yard.
Call into the artisan food shop "Glasrai and Goodies" for some treats. Then pay a visit to Ireland's only Reptile Zoo. Journey onto Goresbridge and take a scenic meander along the banks of the River Barrow.
First, pay a visit to spectacular Kells Priory, known locally as "Seven Castles" for its striking tower houses. An Augustinian Priory founded in 1193, it is situated alongside King's River beside the village of Kells, about 15km south of the medieval city of Kilkenny. Then visit the scenic Jen's Cafe for delicious homemade food in a cosy, relaxed atmosphere in the stunning historic location of Mullin's Mill, Kells.
South West Kilkenny
First, pay a visit to the Calder-Potts Family at Highbank Orchards to sample some of their famous, and delicious, apple syrup. Continue on to see Bridge Pottery run by Caroline Dolan and Spirit Jewellery by Friederike Grace.
Visit Burn Church Castle where Oliver Cromwell rested, before arriving at spectacular Kells Priory, known locally as "Seven Castles" for its striking tower houses.
This is feast for lovers of craft. Call into Larry Kinsella and witness him crafting beautiful candles at Moth to a Flame. Enjoy a cuppa in the restaurant at Nicolas Mosse Pottery Factory before wandering around the pottery shop and observing how this internationally famous pottery is hand crafted.
Call into Philip Heiter, a local wood turner, followed by a leisurely stroll along the River Nore.
Take a class at the Kilkenny School of Food or visit their training garden. Browse around Karen Morgan's contemporary pottery shop in Thomastown, before paying a visit to Jerpoint Glass to learn about the craft of glass blowing. Continue on to Jerpoint Abbey, built in 1180AD.
From the Abbey, drive on the same road and you will see Goatsbridge Trout Farm, which is a must for all fish lovers. Continue on to Jerpoint Park you will enjoy the wonderful experiences of Jerpoint Park, Ireland's best surviving example of a deserted 12th Century Medieval Town. Finally, stop into the magnificent Mount Juliet Estate for well-deserved refreshments.
The charming village of Inistoige can be fully appreciated from an outlook point on the drive up to the exquisite grounds of Woodstock Gardens and Arboretum, which is a steep drive from the village but well worth it.
Explore one of Ireland's most picturesque villages and a village which has been used as a backdrop to dozens of films. Visit to Tunde Toth Papermaker to learn about the art of papermaking (by appointment only).
Visit the largest Cistercian Duiske Abbey in the gorgeous village of Graiguenamanagh. Enjoy the ambience by the River Barrow on the way to Duiske Glass Kilkenny, followed by a visit to see Cushendale Wollen Mills. Finish your journey by bike, on foot, or by car to the beautiful village of St Mullins, enjoying some desserts at the Mulicán Café.
To get more information on the itineraries above, including key contacts, locations, opening times etc. please visit http://www.visitkilkenny.ie/things_to_do and http://www.visitkilkenny.ie/heritage_kilkenny
And to book your accommodation, please visit http://www.visitkilkenny.ie/accommodation_kilkenny