Kilkenny CastleThis impressive castle overlooking the River Nore has a history as dramatic as its appearance. It was built for the Earl of Pembroke in the 1190s; lived in by various generations of the Butler family for six centuries, from the year 1391 until 1967; then sold to the people of Kilkenny for a token 50 Irish pounds in 1967. Much of this Norman fortress has been restored with original furniture, decorations, and fittings. Rooms include a library, a drawing room, a withdrawing room (for the ladies to withdraw after dinner), a tapestry room, and the Long Gallery in the East Wing, which is filled with paintings. The tearoom in the castle basement’s original Victorian kitchen, with an original range and rows of copper pots, is ideal for post-tour tea and scones.
The centerpiece of the medieval city of Kilkenny, whose streets are lined with 11th- and 12th-century buildings, this 800-year-old castle commands a prominent location in High Town. It was the residence of the Butler family for almost 600 years until it was offered by Arthur Butler, the 6th Marquess of Ormonde, to the people of Kilkenny in 1967 for a token 50 Irish pounds. Now under the care of the Office of Public Works, the castle and its art-and-antiques-filled rooms, passageways, corridors and courtyards can be toured on your own or with a guide.