Kilkenny Castle is one of the more popular castles to visit in Ireland, not least because it’s been completely and painstakingly restored to its former glory. The castle dates from the 12th century, although it was remodeled in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was sold to the local Castle Restoration Committee in 1967 for the princely sum of £50 and after extensive restoration was opened to the public.
In addition to having been beautifully restored inside and out, Kilkenny Castle also enjoys a picturesque setting on the River Nore just outside Kilkenny‘s city center. There are expansive green lawns and beautiful gardens surrounding the castle, and some items from the collection of the National Art Gallery are on display inside. Kilkenny Castle served as the principal seat of the Butler family for centuries and among the pieces of art which adorn the walls you can see many Butler family portraits – including some that date back to the 14th century.
Before Kilkenny Castle was essentially given to the Castle Restoration Committee, the castle had been left abandoned and in a state of growing disrepair by members of the Butler family. The family had lived in the castle until 1935, when they moved to London after selling only the contents of the castle. By the time it was sold in 1967, the castle was on its way to becoming yet another ruin, something the Butler family didn’t want to see happen.
As this is one of the more popular castles to visit in Ireland, you can rest assured that you’ll run into crowds, especially in the high season. You’ll need to join a guided tour to see the main parts of Kilkenny Castle, but you can walk through the nearly 50 acres of gardens and lawns without a guide. There is even a playground for the kids.
Location: Kilkenny, Ireland; south of city center on River Nore
Hours: April-May, daily 10:30-17:00; June-September, daily 10:00-19:00; October-March, Tuesday-Saturday 10:30-12:45 and 14:00-17:00, Sunday 10:00-19:00
Closed over Christmas and Good Friday
Admission: €5.30 adults, €3.70 seniors, €2.10 children & students, €11.50 family groups
More Information: The Butler Gallery, housed in Kilkenny Castle, has an official website