The biggest change is that my children are older. While they still loved the play area on the grounds, they also enjoyed walking the many pathways through the parklands and along the river. As we dodged rain drops, the girls examined the small cemetery plot on the grounds. When the rain got a bit harder, we took shelter in the thick trees and found a more ‘natural' play place. And when the sun peeked back out again, we explored the pathways leading to the river.
While the grounds are still gorgeous and free to roam, there have been changes – for the better – in regards to Kilkenny Castle Tours.
Visiting Kilkenny Castle
When we visited in 2008, guided castle tours were offered only a handful of times during the day and these slots would fill quickly. Now visitors can self tour the castle guided by leaflets, audio tours, guidebooks or the excellent smartphone app on iTunes).
Tour prices :
Senior Citizens: €4.00
Students/Children of 6 & over: €2.50
Note: Kilkenny Castle is an OPW Heritage Site. You can purchase an OPW card here for use at other OPW sites. OPW cards are good for one year from purchase.
Another nice change is that you can view a few of the rooms free of charge, which is great if you have limited time or little ones with short attention spans.
Note: Photos are not allowed inside the castle.
Kilkenny Design Centre
Be sure to take the time to visit Kilkenny Design Centre. Located just across the street, in what were once the stables of Kilkenny Castle, you'll find shops filled with beautiful Irish glass, soft woolens, stunning jewelry and affordable gifts. While many of these items can be found throughout Ireland, there are some that you aren't likely to easily find elsewhere. If you see something you love, buy it here. I am still regretting not purchasing a sweater/ wrap I found, assuming I could get it elsewhere.
Past the shops and through the stable yard you'll find the National Craft Gallery. Artisans of all types have small studios with large windows which allow visitors to watch them create without interfering. You can, of course, enter the studios and meet the artists, as well as purchase their creations.
The National Craft Gallery also hosts exhibitions, tours, and family days which allow kids to get hands on.
Before you leave, make a stop in the Food Court for delicious pastries or a beautifully crafted sandwich. Delicious!
For more photos of Kilkenny Castle and our trip to Ireland, visit my Ireland Trip set at Flickr.