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Free things to do in Kilkenny

Free things to do in Kilkenny

 A few months back we created a list of our Culture Guide to Wexford. We couldn't believe what a great response the piece had. Since then we have been inundated with requests for similar advice. In particular, a number of our readers requested that we compile a list of the top free things to do in Kilkenny. Kilkenny is an incredible city located in the South East region of Ireland on the banks of the River Nore and in the province of Leinster. With its iconic castle and cathedral, it's been a destination for visitors both local and international since medieval times. The city is located just an hour and thirty minutes from the capital and for those on a budget, there is no shortage of free things to do in Kilkenny. We hope you enjoy this guide and if you have visited the region and have any advice on free things to do in Kilkenny City we’d love to hear your own recommendations.


Our guide of free things to do in Kilkenny


1. Number one on our guide to free things to do in Kilkenny has to be number one on our guide to free things to do in Kilkenny has to be a visit to Butler Gallery, a vibrant contemporary art gallery located in the heart of Kilkenny City and one of the Southeast’s leading Cultural Attractions. Located in the award-winning newly renovated historic Evans’ Home Butler Gallery is always free to visit, and, along with our contemporary exhibitions is home to one of Ireland's most significant collections of 19th and 20th-century art. Our learning and engagement activities provide our visitors with lots of opportunities to engage with our collection through inspirational and educational events and workshops. We have beautiful outdoor spaces including an archaeology garden, a sculpture garden and a wildflower garden. In our intimate garden setting, you can enjoy refreshments from our café, MUSE coffee + food, with views of medieval St John’s Priory.

2. No guide to our free things to do in Kilkenny would be complete without a visit to Castle Yard situated directly opposite Kilkenny Castle, originally built as the Castles stable yard by the Duke of Ormonde in 1790. To enter Castle Yard you will walk through an arch surrounded on both sides by Kilkenny Design Centre and move into a cobbled courtyard which is home to some of Ireland's foremost jewellers and craftspeople including Castle Arch Pottery and JMK Goldsmiths. Also home to the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland Castle Yard forms a thoroughfare linking Kilkenny Castle and Butler House, which was the Georgian Dower House of the Castle and now one of Kilkenny’s most prestigious accommodations providers. So whether you are a history buff, fancy some retail therapy, enjoy artisan crafts or just want to soak up the of medieval cobblestones and Georgian gardens a visit to Castle Yard is a must-do when visiting Kilkenny.


3. Next up on our guide of free things to do in Kilkenny is the Kilkenny Famine Experience which is located in MacDonagh Junction Shopping Centre, once home to the Kilkenny Union Workhouse. This free, self-guided audiovisual tour brings you around the buildings of the workhouse and tells the human stories of the inmates that lived and died within its walls. Learn about the unexpected discovery of over 970 human remains which has been described as the most significant discovery in the world relating to the Irish Famine. Meet the young Saul brothers, John and Patrick who sought refuge in the Workhouse in 1841 after being abandoned by their parents on the docks in Dublin. For optimal experience, headphones are recommended. Visitors can bring their own headphones (must have a headphone jack, Bluetooth not available) or purchase disposable headphones for €2 each from the customer service desk. Suitable for children – parental discretion advised.


4. If you are on a budget and looking for something free to do in Kilkenny you can go wrong with this next option. One of the best ways to experience Ireland’s Ancient East is a walking trip down the River Nore. The Rivers Barrow, Nore and Suir (known as the “Three Sisters”) are the principal rivers flowing through County Kilkenny. Every year my friend and I travel from Dublin and spend a couple of days walking on one of the Three Sisters, it has become our annual tradition. The Nore Valley walk is an 11km trail connecting Kilkenny City to the Village of Bennettsbridge. On route, you’ll discover the ruins of sawmills and distilleries from pre-famine times as well as stunning rural scenery. The section from Bennettsbridge takes about two hours to complete. However, the tracks are clearly marked and the terrain is flat. You do not need to be an advanced hiker. A day walking the River Nore is a perfect way to discover Kilkenny and perfect for those on a budget.

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