A lookout, a stronghold and a strategic crossing point flanked by a river, Kilkenny Castle dominates proceedings in the former medieval capital of Ireland, Kilkenny City. A myriad of changes have been made to the structure since its first adaptation over 800 years ago. This complex mix of architectural styles from centuries of upgrades and vagaries have all left their signature, some of which can be seen today thanks to careful and considered archaeological excavations.
Construction first began in 1192 by the Anglo-Norman settler William Marhsall but for most of its life (almost 600 years) it was home to the powerful Butler family. In 1967 Arthur, the 24th Earl of Ormonde passed ownership to the people of Kilkenny for the princely sum of fifty pounds. Now beautifully preserved and lovingly restored it contains many decorative rooms in all their splendour with ornate furnishings, treasured paintings and architectural marvels.
The library, drawing room, Butler gallery and tea rooms are just some of the spaces open to the public. A number of cultural and artistic events take place every year too, particularly during the annual Kilkenny Arts Festival and are largely held in the Parade Tower Wing which also accommodates numerous gatherings and functions.
But it’s not just what’s on the inside that counts. From the magnificence of the medieval room and its plunging arrow loops and the plush 1860’s grandeur of the wood panelled dining room, the adjoining parklands and elegant gardens too are a sight to behold. To the south lies the walled demesne parkland with a woodland walk, lakes, mature trees and bushes while facing north the formal rose garden takes pride of place as the surrounding visual compliment to the calming sounds of a fountain.
Much loved and admired by the people of Kilkenny and visitors alike, The Castle Park is a pleasant and peaceful way to wind down a visit to the historic surroundings of Kilkenny Castle.