on May 16, 2012
Kilkenny Castle is worth a visit as perhaps the best barometer of life in this region dating back from the 12th century. Built in 1195 to overlook and guard the River Nore, it served as the residence to the Butler family for over 600 years. (This would be the same Butler family with ties to Jerpoint Abbey as connected through stone carvings found at the abbey bearing the same Butler coat of arms.) The Butler ownership ended in 1967 when the last family heir sold the deteriorating buildings to the City of Kilkenny for just £50. The Office of Public Works (OPW) took over the restoration and management in 1969 and has since opened it to the public. It should be noted that the Butler family had not resided there during their last 30 years of ownership, with it remaining vacant for the last 15 years or so before being given to the people of Kilkenny. The full history of ownership and occupancy of Kilkenny Castle is summarized on the Wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilkenny_Castle .As for the tour, visitors are encouraged to view a short (15 minute) film that is shown in one of the outer rooms as you enter the castle grounds. From there you enter the castle and pay your admission fee. (OPW Heritage Card holders are admitted for no additional fee.) The tour is self-guided, but was significantly limited due to ongoing restoration work being done inside much of the castle. We were disappointed in this, given how little was actually accessible during our visit.For that reason, I would not suggest making a special trip to Kilkenny to see this particular Heritage site until the restoration efforts are near completion. If you are already going to be in Kilkenny or are staying there, perhaps it would be worth your time to make the visit. For folks planning trips beyond 2012, check out their OWP website for updates on the progress being made on the restoration as well as their seasonal hours of operation: http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/South-East/KilkennyCastle/The castle does sit on beautiful grounds and in the summer (weather permitting), this would make a very nice location for a picnic lunch. Parking for the castle is on the surrounding streets. There is a parking fee, so be sure to buy a parking permit and put it on your vehicle dashboard before leaving your car.Across the street from the castle entrance is the former castle stables that has been renovated into The Design Center that includes a gift shop, ground floor cafe and restaurant on the upper level. We stopped in the cafe for a hot beverage before heading back to our cottage in County Wexford. They did have lovely fresh baked good including tarts, cakes and breads but we took a pass on them although they all did look very good.
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