Kilkenny
Culture & History

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Our most recommended Kilkenny Culture & History

From Dublin: Glendalough, Wicklow, & Kilkenny Full-Day Trip

1. From Dublin: Glendalough, Wicklow, & Kilkenny Full-Day Trip

First, make your way directly to Kilkenny, a town that was once the medieval capital of Ireland. Enjoy walking down the cobbled streets and visit the Black Abbey and the Cathedral of Saint Canice. After that, travel through the Wicklow Mountains to your next stop. Visit the Monastic site of Glendalough. Hollywood Blockbusters like ‘P.S. I Love You’ and ‘Braveheart’ have been filmed here. Explore the area renowned for its ruins, magnificent lakes, and waterfalls. Finally, head over to a sheepdog farm and watch a sheepdog herd with his master. Look at the Border Collies using a tactic called “The Eye” on sheep. Witness a shepherd and his dog at work and watch how they herd a flock of sheep.

Kilkenny: Historical Highlights Walking Tour

2. Kilkenny: Historical Highlights Walking Tour

Explore Kilkenny's fascinating past on a walking tour with a certified guide. Walk through the city's historic streets, hearing stories about Kilkenny Castle, St. John's Priory, and more, as you stand in front of these impressive sights. Kick-start your historical adventure by the Kilkenny Crystal Shop. Then, cross the River Nore towards Kilkenny County Hall, where you will find out about the most famous scholar in Kilkenny's history. From there, head to St. John's Priory and the Butler Gallery. Continue on to Kilkenny County Library and the Great War Memorial. Cross into Irishtown and St. Canice's Cathedral, where the city's history began. See many other fascinating sights along the tour, including Kieran and Parliament streets, the Black Abbey, and more. Finish your tour in front of the stunning Kilkenny Castle, home to the Butler family for 600 years.

Kilkenny: Historical and Hysterical Guided City Walking Tour

3. Kilkenny: Historical and Hysterical Guided City Walking Tour

Travel back in time as you explore Kilkenny city’s history-rich Medieval Mile on a fascinating and exciting walking tour that has been devised by one of Ireland’s leading magicians and raconteurs. With your passionate guide, Nevin Cody, embark on a journey to discover the wonders that are hidden in one of Ireland’s most historic locations. The tour begins at the main gates of Kilkenny Castle where you’ll weave your way through the picturesque streets of the Medieval Mile whilst listening to unique anecdotes and stories about the land. Listen to your guide blend history, magic, whimsical fun, and a dollop of irreverent humor that keeps you entertained from start to finish. Against the backdrop of Ireland’s famous Medieval Mile, watch as the veil of history is lifted and the hidden secrets that lie within the city are discovered. The tour lasts approximately 75 minutes and covers just over one mile of walking. The group maintains a moderate pace of walking and there are plenty of stops along the way. The tour runs rain or shine so please come prepared for all weather forecasts.

Ireland: 5-Day Escape to the Southwest Tour

4. Ireland: 5-Day Escape to the Southwest Tour

Discover the scenic splendor of southwest Ireland on a comprehensive 5-day tour of The Burren, the Dingle Peninsula, and the fabled Ring of Kerry. Stop at historic castles and monasteries, and wander the colorful fishing villages to sample fresh seafood. Enjoy dramatic views from the Cliffs of Moher, and stroll along the vast stretch of Inch Beach watching the local surfers. Transportation is by small minicoach, with accommodation in quaint bed and breakfast guesthouses for a more intimate experience. Day 1: Depart Dublin and head west through the farmland and peat bogs of Kildare and Offally counties. Stop at Locke’s Distillery, reputedly the oldest legal distillery in the world. Sample the local whiskey to experience the true spirit of Ireland. Continue west to the mighty Shannon River, and vist the early Christian site of Clonmacnoise. Admire its collection of churches, stone crosses, and round towers. After an afternoon stop in a traditional pub in one of the attractive villages, travel to Galway City to check into your base for the night. This lively student town has no shortage of good pubs and restaurants to enjoy in the evening. Day 2: From Galway City it’s only a short drive along the coast to The Burren, one of Ireland’s great natural treasures. Marvel at the limestone pavements, barren hills, and rare flora. See Christian settlements and ancient stone monuments. You will spend most of the morning exploring this unique area, stopping in Kilfenora for lunch. Known as the “Town of the Crosses,” there will also be time to visit the old cathedral before driving to the Cliffs of Moher. Marvel at this natural beauty, where the cliffs drop almost 700 feet into crashing Atlantic Ocean waves. Take a walk along one of the cliff top trails, and watch the seabirds at work. Alternatively, visit the award-winning environmental exhibition to learn about the region’s ecology. Then, travel south through County Clare, passing the famous golf course and beach at Lahinch to catch the ferry across the Shannon Estuary and into County Kerry. Go to the beautiful lakeside town of Killarney, your base for the next 3 nights. The pubs here are great for food and most have live music in the evenings. Day 3 Today, you will explore the Dingle Peninsula, one of the most scenic parts of Ireland. Your first stop in this heartland of Gaelic culture will be Inch Beach, a vast expanse of sand facing the Atlantic Ocean popular with surfers. From here, increasingly narrow roads lead onto the peninsula itself, through the town of Dingle and out to Slea Head. This is an area of ancient forts and dwellings that date back thousands of years. Visit some of the best examples along the way. Enjoy views of the Blasket Islands as they rise dramatically from the sea. Marvel at the mountains of the famous Ring of Kerry to your south. Weather permitting, time will be allotted for a walk on the beach or along the cliff tops. Learn why the area is important in Gaelic literature. Then, head back to Dingle town with its brightly colored buildings and busy harbor. Spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure, before returning to Killarney. If the weather is good you could enjoy an evening walk in Killarney National Park, just on the edge of town. Day 4: Today, you will take one of the world’s classic routes, the 100-mile Ring of Kerry. Depart Killarney and enjoy the views to Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest mountain. Join the coast road through Glenbeigh and Kells to Cahersiveen. Possible stops along the way include Daniel O’Connell’s birthplace, and the ring fort of Cahersiveen. Go to the little fishing village of Portmagee for a lunch of local seafood. Alternatively, cross to the island of Valencia and visit the Skellig Experience to learn about the small community of monks who once lived on the nearby rock island of Skellig Michael. In the afternoon, stop in picturesque Waterville, a favourite holiday destination for Charlie Chaplin. Stop again at the top of the Coonmakista Pass for one of the best views in Ireland. From here, the road drops down to sea level, where you will visit Derrynane House, the family home of Daniel O’Connell. You can stroll in the gardens and down to the beach, as well as look inside the house itself. Continue around the Ring, stopping at Moll’s Gap and Ladies View. There will also be time for a short walk to the Torc Waterfall before returning to Killarney. Day 5: The final day of your tour heads east through the mountains of West Cork and the market town of Macroom. Then, drive along the Lee Valley to Blarney Castle. Visit the castle and take one of the woodland walks to the mystical Rock Close. Explore the village of Blarney, stopping for lunch and a bit of shopping. There may even be time to kiss the famous Blarney Stone, although in peak season it can be very busy. In the afternoon, head to the Rock of Cashel to see the medieval monastery complex high above the town. Finally, go to Kilkenny, a bustling city with a fine castle and park, as well as some lovely riverside walks. Visit the National Craft Centre, or just hang out in one of the pubs for a last Guinness. Hit the road again for the final leg of your journey, arriving back in Dublin at approximately 19:30.

Kilkenny: Self Guided Tour of Medieval Mile Museum

5. Kilkenny: Self Guided Tour of Medieval Mile Museum

Discover the wonders of the medieval era at Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile Museum. At the start of your visit, pick up your audio guide, available in 6 different languages as well as a child friendly option, then set out on your journey back in time. The museum is Ireland’s finest example of a medieval church and has been lovingly restored in recent years. As you explore the museum, admire the array of ancient artifacts that have been hidden for centuries and are now on display in a world-class exhibition. From your audio guide, learn about and marvel at the treasure trove of objects on display that encompass the work and lives of Ireland and its people throughout the centuries. The museum also contains some of Ireland’s best examples of medieval sculpture and the country’s largest collection of Renaissance tombs which date back to the year 1200. Here you can see the burial site of the rich and poor, and in fact many of Kilkenny’s past generations are still at rest here in the tombs.

6-Day Tour of Southern Ireland from Dublin

6. 6-Day Tour of Southern Ireland from Dublin

On this 6-day tour you'll visit the Ring of Kerry and the Cliffs of Moher, have a chance to kiss the magical Blarney Stone in County Cork, and much more! Enjoy vibrant, musical Killarney and an action-packed night in medieval, yet cosmopolitan Galway, Ireland's seaside party town. Detailed Itinerary Day 1: Dublin - Glendalough - Kilkenny Castle - Waterford City The 6 day all Ireland tour begins this morning at 9:00 AM in central Dublin. Leave the city behind and drive through rolling countryside to the Wicklow Mountains. Your first stop is the monastery ruins at Glendalough, the Valley of Two Lakes. This is an area of natural beauty and you'll have time at leisure to enjoy the local walks and trails and take some great photos of the ancient Celtic crosses and round towers. Afterwards, continue to medieval Kilkenny with its cobbled streets and famous red ale. Potential sights to explore at leisure include the Castle, Cathedral, Abbeys and Churches all dating back to the Norman period following the invasion of the 12th Century. Not far from Waterford Harbor on the south- east coast, Dunmore East is a relaxing spot to spend the evening with a handful of pubs and some great seafood restaurants. Day 2: Waterford City - Waterford Crystal - Blarney Castle - Dingle Peninsula Your day begins with a visit to the world famous Waterford Crystal factory. Stock up on fine cut glass at the outlet store or simply pause a while to watch the artisans at work. Afterwards, continue with a scenic drive through County Waterford and a panoramic drive- through Cork city. The highlight for many today is the world renowned Blarney Castle. Here, spend plenty of time (2 hours) visiting the Castle, with the chance to kiss the Blarney Stone (to receive the gift of eloquent speech also known as the gift of the gab). Surrounded by beautiful and majestic gardens, you may also shop for souvenirs at Blarney Woolen Mills, the world's largest Irish shop. After lunch, continue on your journey to the Dingle Peninsula and overnight among the last parishes before America. Day 3: Dingle Peninsula - Slea Head - Killarney Today, take the short drive to Dingle, a charming Gaelic speaking fishing village. Famed in many films like Far and Away and Ryan's Daughter, Dingle is celebrated for having the most pubs in Ireland for a town of its size, 52 pubs and 2000 people. You cannot forget Dingle's most famous resident, Fungi the Dolphin who you shall have time to visit in the early afternoon. Then it's off on a wonderful pleasant trip around Slea Head with amazing views of Sleeping Giant Island, the Blasket Islands, and Beehive Huts dating back to 2000 B.C. Regarded as the most beautiful Peninsula in the world by many photographic magazines, Slea Head has some of Ireland's most fabulous beaches and is definitely the highlight of Ireland's famed Wild Atlantic Way. This area is completely Gaelic speaking, and you may even get to hear some of the locals converse in this ancient language. Then it's back to Dingle where there is ample time for shopping in traditional arts and crafts stores, lunch in one of the many colorful pubs with local musicians playing some mystic tunes. Complete your day with a visit to Ireland's longest beach at Inch, connecting Dingle Peninsula to the Ring of Kerry before continuing on to your evening destination at Killarney where you'll stay for the next 2 nights. Day 4: Killarney - Ring of Kerry - Killarney Today, embark on the world famous Ring of Kerry. The day begins with a horse and cart ride through Killarney National Park (optional) or horseback ride through the park for the energetic and adventurous (optional). Next it's off on your journey that combines emerald pastures and villages with jaw dropping views of cliffs, mountains and ancient pagan forts. Highlights include vistas of the Skellig rocks, and the beautiful town of Waterville once home of the legendary Charlie Chaplin. After lunch, find yourselves in the homeland of Daniel O'Connell, known as the father of the nation and the man who brought Catholic emancipation to Ireland in the early 1800s. Your afternoon is packed with many highlights including Moll's Gap, Ladies View, Leprechaun Crossing, Killarney National Park, Lakes of Killarney, Torc Waterfall, and much more. Day 5: Killarney - Cliffs of Moher - Galway Leaving Killarney, your first stop will be a photo stop at the beautiful Bunratty Castle. Today's emphasis shall be the Wild Atlantic way, visiting Cliffs of Moher, the most popular natural tourist destination in Ireland and most spectacular cliffs in Europe. Rising over 700 feet in height, these cliffs are home to some of natures most majestic birds including puffins, gannets and many more. Doolin, the home of Irish traditional music is your lunch stop before continuing onwards to explore the Burren, a lunar landscape dating back 300 million years with unique features like underground rivers and waterfalls. Your journey takes you along the West Coast of Clare, and Galway Bay with fabulous vistas of the Aran Islands. Overnight in Galway, known as the city of the tribes and Ireland's cultural capital, with a vast array of fine seafood eateries, and home to an endless selection of traditional Irish music venues. Galway was also once home of Christopher Columbus, the famous explorer. Day 6: Galway - Connemara - Dublin Depart Galway and visit Maam's Cross and the Maam Valley, ravaged by the famine of 1845. This area evokes memories of the saddest time in Irish history when more than a million people died of starvation along your Western shores. Your lunch stop today is the charming village of Cong, famed by John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara in the film Quiet Man. The village is home to Ashford castle, a regular haunt of the rich and famous and a wedding venue for a host of international stars. Have time to visit Cong Abbey before heading off on your short journey through the midlands back to Dublin inspired by a wonderful 6 day experience around Southern Ireland.

Day Tour of Glendalough, Wicklow Mountains and Kilkenny

7. Day Tour of Glendalough, Wicklow Mountains and Kilkenny

The first stop on this guided tour is Glendalough, known as the valley of the two lakes, and its 6th-century monastic site of St. Kevin. The guide will walk you through the ancient monastery of St. Kevin and explain some of its important buildings, their folklore and history, before giving you plenty of time to explore the valley yourself. Then travel through the Wicklow Gap and see some of the most beautiful scenery of the area and a few small rural villages. Once the group reaches Kilkenny, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the medieval Norman town and its top sites, like St. Canice's Cathedral, Rothe House, and Kilkenny Castle. Kilkenny is steeped in history and was once the capital of Ireland. It was also the location for one of Ireland’s earliest witch trials, the famous story of Dame Alice Kyteler and her servant Petronilla. Spend 3 hours in Kilkenny, explore Kilkenny Castle and have some lunch.

Ireland: Blarney Castle, Kilkenny & Irish Whiskey 3-Day Tour

8. Ireland: Blarney Castle, Kilkenny & Irish Whiskey 3-Day Tour

Discover the scenic splendor of southeast Ireland on a 3-day tour of the lush farmlands of Kildare, the stunning Wicklow Mountains, and the fabled Copper Coast road to Waterford. Stop at historic monasteries and castles, learn about the fateful voyage of the Titanic from Cobh, and go to the famous Waterford Crystal Factory.  Enjoy a more personal experience in this small group tour with maximum of 16 passengers on a top of the range Mercedes luxury mini-coach, while a quaint bed and breakfast accommodation for 2 nights provides a more intimate experience. Day 1: Depart Dublin for Cork, driving through the lush farm counties of Kildare, Laois, and Tipperary. Make a short stop in the heritage town of Cahir to see the ruined abbey and impressive castle on an island in the River Suir. Continue to Blarney on the outskirts of Cork. Visit the castle and take one of the woodland walks to the mystical Rock Close. Explore the village of Blarney, stopping for lunch.  There may even be time to kiss the famous Blarney Stone. After this, there is a chance to discover Jameson Whiskey Distillery and taste one of Ireland's favorite exports. In the afternoon, tour the beautiful coastline of West Cork, and see some of the magnificent beaches, tiny inlets and coves. End the day in the fishing village of Kinsale, where you will be based for the night. Kinsale is famous for its food, and the evening is free to wander the narrow streets, popping into traditional pubs and restaurants. Day 2: Explore some of the highlights of southeast Ireland, starting with the historic port of Cobh, the main departure point for Irish emigration in the 19th and 20th centuries. It was also from here that the Titanic ocean liner set forth on her ill-fated maiden voyage. Continue east to Waterford, traveling along the “Copper Coast” (a designated UNESCO geo-park for its spectacular beauty). Stop at the popular surfing beach of Tramore, before heading into Waterford, Ireland’s oldest city. Founded by the Vikings in the 9th century, it’s also famous for the Waterford Crystal Factory, which you are free to visit along with one of the excellent museums. Alternatively, explore the Viking Triangle on foot. In the late afternoon, depart for the busy city of Kilkenny with its fine castle and park, as well as some lovely riverside walks. Go to the National Craft Centre, or hang out in one of the pubs and enjoy a glass of Guinness! Day 3: Enjoy a free morning to explore Kilkenny before driving to the Wicklow Mountains. Marvel at some of Ireland’s highest granite peaks and see impressive valleys carved by glaciers. One of the area’s highlights is Glendalough, known as the “Valley of the Lakes.” Take one of the walking trails, or explore the ruins of the 6th-century monastery to see its round tower. The last section of your tour takes you into the heart of the Wicklow Mountains National Park, before crossing the famous Sally Gap to descend into Dublin for an approximate 18:30 arrival.

From Dublin: Wicklow Mountains, Glendalough & Kilkenny Tour

9. From Dublin: Wicklow Mountains, Glendalough & Kilkenny Tour

Embark on a guided day trip through the lush pastures of Ireland from Dublin. Tour the vast Wicklow Mountains and see the monastery of Glendalough. Lose yourself in the medieval lanes of Kilkenny. Depart from Dublin and set off on a luxury bus to Glendalough. As you journey out of the city, your guide will fill you in on many interesting facts and fun stories about Dublin. Arrive at Glendalough, considered one of the most beautiful corners of Ireland. Enjoy an optional guided tour of the monastic settlement and some free time to explore the area or relax at a local café. The more adventurous can opt to take a hike to the Upper Lake and return via a boardwalk (approx. 2.5 km). The route takes you past the Lower Lake through a stunning nature trail that leads deep into the valley and on to the Upper Lake. Continue to the Wicklow Mountains. As you drive, your guide will tell you about its geology and history. Pass through famous movie locations featured in P.S. I Love You and Braveheart. Stop for a 10-minute photo opportunity at the Wicklow Gap before a scenic ride to Kilkenny. Once you reach Kilkenny, have free time to navigate the narrow lanes and historic buildings. Admire its extraordinary castle where you can picnic, or enjoy lunch in the local pubs. Then, join an optional guided tour of the city before making your way back to Dublin.

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What people are saying about Kilkenny

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 268 reviews

The tour that I have dreamed happened, it was in Dublin featured by Finn McCools Tours, represented by kindness people, Barbara and Michael. Thank for this amazing team that shows magnificent places and fulfill ours souls of joy. They taught us how good is to travel and learn more about Irish culture, so, for a memorable trip, you have the right recipe, Finn McCools Tours, Barbara and Michael.

We had such a lovely time on this tour and our guide Godfrey was so amazing (with additional humour and musical treat) to explain everything about the places we visited. The lovely sunny weather was the icing on the cake to enjoy the beautiful sites.

We had a great day exploring Glendalough and Kilkenny. I do recommend the tour if you are short on time but want to get a good overview of both. Great craic, Finn McCools Tours!

Really nice experience, Philip the guide, makes it better telling you stories through the trip. You can explore many places in one day. All in all it’s a nice tour to take!

Nice ride with guide Maura filling in with information and Irish music