Kilkenny Castle is one of the many castles that helps to make Kilkenny County a popular Ireland tourist destination. Built in the thirteenth century, this landmark castle on the south side of Kilkenny City stands proud along the banks of the River Nore and boasts an interesting mix of architectural styles. As is true of other Irish castles, Kilkenny Castle history saw several additions and alterations made over the course of the structure's life. Battlements and corner towers hint at its original role as a fortress, and while many of the remodeling projects took place in Victorian times, there is a very medieval quality to its appearance. This quality is enhanced by the formidable grey stone exterior.
Kilkenny Castle history starts with the building of an Anglo-Norman castle in the early 1200s. This original structure was erected for the 4th Earl of Pembroke, whose name was William Marshal. In 1391, the 3rd Earl of Ormonde, James Butler, overtook ownership. From there, the Butler dynasty occupied the fortress for more than 500 years. Ultimately in 1967, the 6th Marquess of Ormonde presented Kilkenny Castle to the city and county people, for which she received a token payment of just 50 pounds. Two years later, the Office of Public Works assumed the role of caring for this Kilkenny famous landmark, and today, it is one of the most visited attractions in Ireland along with other top castles like Bunratty Castle and Dromoland Castle.
No trip to Kilkenny County Ireland would complete without a visit to Kilkenny Castle. Guided tours can be arranged for those who wish to see the interior of the castle's main body, and these tours begin with the viewing of an informative video that details the structure's history. Viewing Butler family portraits is also among the tour highlights, and while you might be tempted, taking photos of or filming the castle is prohibited. It should also be noted that groups of ten or more that wish to take a tour of this Kilkenny famous landmark must arrange everything in advance. All others can enjoy a tour without prior arrangements, though since the castle is such as popular attraction, arriving early or very late in the day can be a good idea if you wish to avoid a long wait in line.
A visit to Kilkenny Castle can involve more than taking a guided tour. The nearly 50-acre grounds feature a variety of gardens that beg to be viewed, and taking a stroll along the riverside can also be a good way to go. Families with younger kids will appreciate the fact that the grounds feature a wonderful playground, and any and all visitors can benefit from the 40-seat restaurant when hunger hits. Other visitor facilities include a bookshop and an art gallery, and as far as the general hours are concerned, the castle is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. during the peak June through August Ireland travel season. During the other months, Kilkenny Castle shortens its hours, though not by much.
When you're not visiting Kilkenny Castle during your trip to County Kilkenny Ireland, there will be other wonderful ways to spend your time. For starters, this lovely, medieval town boasts some enticing shops and restaurants, and at night, its pubs are often hopping. Whatever your interests, there are plenty of Kilkenny hotels to choose from, so finding a good place to base yourself shouldn't be hard.