The Stunning Beauty of Kilkenny, Ireland and Mount Juliet Estate

Gwen and Hawk named Roger (1 of 1)

I love when we travel to a destination and discover it far exceeds our expectations, but am disappointed when we realize the stay is far too short to experience all we want to do. We desperately wanted to spend several more days exploring the charming towns and villages and nearby manor homes and castles in several stops during our Ireland Road Trip last fall, but we were on a tight schedule and covering a lot of territory. Kilkenny was one of those towns that deserved at least a few more days for exploring and sightseeing.

The town of Kilkenny

The town of Kilkenny

Come along as we visit Kilkenny, one of Ireland’s most beautiful “tidy towns”, the stunning historic property where we stayed in nearby Thomaston, Mount Juliet Estate, and take part in the thrilling Ancient Sport of Falconry.

The River Nore runs through the city

The River Nore runs through the city

Kilkenny, Co. Kilkenny

Kilkenny Castle

One of our favorite stops in Ireland was Kilkenny, a lively medieval town complete with a restored Norman-built castle, Kilkenny Castle, dating back to 1195. Located in southeastern Ireland, in County Kilkenny, the town is built along the banks of the 87-mile long River Nore.

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle

The River Nore runs along the castle wall

The River Nore runs along the castle wall

The gardens at Kilkenny Castle

The gardens at Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile and the Smithwick’s Experience

While visiting the town, we took a step back in time touring Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile, filled with history, great local and artisan foods, outdoor activities, museums, farms, numerous pubs, great Craic (Irish fun), and traditional Irish music. Kilkenny was voted Ireland’s “Tidiest Town in 2014” recognizing its’…well… tidiness. Two of the most popular attractions (in addition to Kilkenny Castle) are the 13th Century Cistercian Duiske Abbey, dating to the 8th and 9th centuries and the Smithwick’s (pronounced SMi-ddicks) Experience.

Smithwick's

Smithwick’s Brewery

The Smithwick's Experience

The Smithwick’s Experience

While they no longer brew the local ale on site at Smithwick’s (it’s now made at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin), there’s an entertaining tour of the brewery highlighting the history of the ale dating back to the 13th century when monks first began the brewing process at St. Francis Abbey. The tour ends with a pint of their famous Irish Ale, which became my preferred beverage while in Ireland.

How about a pint of Smithwick's?

How about a pint of Smithwick’s?

Dining in and around Kilkenny

We also had a chance to experience a bit of the local food scene. There are, of course, many pubs serving traditional and more modern Irish cuisine, but there are also several upscale restaurants, including Michelin-starred Campagne, which serves modern French-inspired cuisine. The Lady Helen Restaurant at Mount Juliet Estate, also boasts a Michelin Star and 3 AA Rosettes. If you’re interested in cooking classes, Eden Hall, a private ancestral home built in the 1750s surrounded by eleven acres of woodlands and gardens, offers demonstration classes featuring “Real Irish Cooking.”

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