The biggest attraction for visitors in Kilkenny City is Kilkenny Castle, situated on banks of the River Nore, at the centre of County Kilkenny.
Kilkenny Castle is the most beautiful castle I`ve seen in Ireland so far.
After visiting Castlecomer Discovery Park I decided to drive to Kilkenny, which is only 20 km far, and take some photos in the golden hour – the last hour before sunset.
Kilkenny has been referred to as the “Marble City” for centuries and is famous for its medieval castle.
Kilkenny Castle has been an important site since Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, commonly known as Strongbow constructed the first castle, probably a wooden structure, in the 12th century.
The Anglo-Normans had established a castle in 1173, possibly on the site of an earlier residence of the Mac Giolla Phádraig kings of Osraighe. Kilkenny formed part of the lordship of Leinster, which was granted to Strongbow. Strongbow’s daughter and heiress, Isabel married William Marshall in 1189.
The first stone castle on the site, was completed in 1260. This was a square-shaped castle with towers at each corner; three of these original four towers survive to this day.
The Castle became the seat to a very powerful family, the Butlers of Ormonde. The Butler family (who changed their name from FitzWalter in 1185) arrived in Ireland with the Norman invasion. They originally settled in Gowran where James Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormond built Gowran Castle in 1385. The family had become wealthy and James bought Kilkenny Castle in 1391 and established himself as ruler of the area. The Butler dynasty then ruled the surrounding area for centuries. Many of the family, including James Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormond are buried in St. Mary’s Collegiate Church Gowran.
Kilkenny Castle came to symbolise the fortunes of the powerful Butlers of Ormonde for over six hundred years.
In 1967, Lord Ormonde sold the abandoned and deteriorating castle to the Castle Restoration Committee for a ceremonial £50, with the statement: “The people of Kilkenny, as well as myself and my family, feel a great pride in the Castle, and we have not liked to see this deterioration. We determined that it should not be allowed to fall into ruins. There are already too many ruins in Ireland.” He also bought the land in front of the castle from the trustees “in order that it should never be built on and the castle would be seen in all its dignity and splendour”.
The castle and grounds are now managed by the Office of Public Works. The gardens and parkland adjoining the castle are open to the public.
Today, Kilkenny Castle is open to visitors all year round and is largely a Victorian remodelling of the thirteenth century defensive Castle. Each year, hundreds of thousands of visitors come to see this grand country house and walk through its fifty acres of rolling parkland with mature trees and an abundance of wildlife. Other features include a formal terraced rose garden, woodlands and a man-made lake, which were added in the nineteenth century. There is also a tearoom, playground and several orienteering trails for visitors to enjoy.
Visit official website: kilkennycastle.ie
Location of Kilkenny Castle:
Below my photos taken in August 2021.