Kilkenny Castle:  Fascinating Facts About an Ancient Structure in Ireland

Central Ireland, and the County Kilkenny, is where you will find Kilkenny Castle. To get to the castle in Leinster Province, driving is your best bet. 

Irish Expressions:  Kilkenny Castle. Image of castle grounds courtesy of Shutterstock.

It's just 90 minutes by car from Dublin Airport. Head south from the airport onto the M9, and stay on that road until you see signs for Exit 8.

Head to the center of Kilkenny via Castle Road, and the thoroughfare called The Parade will lead you to the castle itself.    

Fun Things to Know About Kilkenny Castle

Here are some fun facts about this amazing Irish landmark.  Hopefully they will entice you to pay a visit in person!  But if that is not possible, you can always use them to impress your friends with your knowledge of one of the most-visited attractions in Ireland.

  1. Found in County Kilkenny, the aptly named castle was built by the 1st Earl of Pembroke, and it served primarily as a family residence until the middle of the 20th century.
  2. Now the Castle is owned by the city of Kilkenny, and visitors can picnic in the gardens, tour the interior of the castle and admire the art collection on display in the castle's gallery.
  3. The castle was erected in 1195 as a way to control the connecting waterways around the River Nore. The castle had a spectacular vantage point and would be better protected if it could see incoming ships.
  4. The 12th century stone castle that stands today at Kilkenny was probably not the first castle on the site. Just a few decades prior, a wooden castle was built in the same location by the 2nd Earl of Pembroke.
  5. For nearly 600 years, the Castle was the home of a powerful Irish family. The Butler family owned Kilkenny from 1360 all the way until the 1960s. 
  6. The family is perhaps best known for dramatically withstanding a siege in the castle during the Irish Civil War in 1922. The family remained in their bedroom over the castle's gate while a machine gun was active right outside their door.
  7. In 1967, the 6th Marquess of Ormond, part of the Butler family, sold Kilkenny Castle to the people of Kilkenny. The sale price for the castle was a token £50.
  8. Since then, Kilkenny Castle has been managed by the Office of Public Works. Extensive renovation, archeological study and research are all ongoing at the castle.
  9. Kilkenny is open to the public daily. Start your visit in the Medieval Room, where a short video sums up the history of the castle. 
  10. Another important room in the castle you don't want to miss is the Tea Room. It is housed within the original Victorian kitchen.
  11. If time permits, spend some time walking through the ornamental gardens. These are often overlooked, but they are beautiful and carefully manicured. 
  12. The Castle is also home to an impressive collection of art and artifacts. Check out the Butler Gallery in the basement as well as key pieces on display from the National Art Gallery.

You can find much more information about this important Irish landmark here.

That Was Fun!  Where Can I See More?

Great question! As you can see, exploring the castles of Ireland offers many opportunities for enjoying an Irish experience and expressing your personal Irish side!

For more information of this kind, you might pay a visit to our section on Ireland Sightseeing here!

Want More Irish Castles?

It is probably obvious - at Irish Expressions, we love Irish castles!  The Emerald Isle is dotted with hundreds of these incredible structures.  

Sharing pictures and stories about them gives us a deeper sense of connection with Ireland, wherever in the world we happen to be!

We have captured the most amazing pictures and descriptions of Irish castles in an e-book we call "An Illustrated Guide to Irish Castles and Abbeys."

This fun, free guide is available to you to download.  Scroll to the bottom of this page and enter your email to get instant access!

Your Personal Irish Expression

One way to share your love of Ireland is by displaying your family coat of arms (family crest).  A very personal symbol of the stories and accomplishments of your ancestors can adorn clothing, kitchenware, wall art, personal accessories and so much more. 

Want to have a look?  Our friends at House of Names can help! 

Tap the button below and see your family crest for free!

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Want to Feel More Connected to Ireland?  Here's How!

At Irish Expressions we believe everybody – well almost everybody! - has an "Irish side."  So how nice would it be to have access to a fun, free Irish experience, on demand, wherever in the world you happen to be?

Over the years we have compiled many free, downloadable resources including lyrics, recipes, games, jokes, blessings and much, much more.  Would you like to receive them ALL for FREE?  Simply share your email for instant access!


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A Note from Bruce

If you would like to see more from Irish Expressions, you can find us on Facebook and Pinterest. You can also communicate with us using our contact form here. 

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However you choose to connect, we would love to hear from you!  Meanwhile, thanks for visiting!  I hope that we will meet someday, in person or online, and you can tell me about your own connection to the Emerald Isle.

Until then, best wishes -

Bruce Grady, and the team at