Hello from Ireland. Wherever you are you in the world, I really hope you’re keeping well as these challenging times continue. Again, thank you all so much for your kind comments. It means so much to hear from you and share our love of this beautiful island. This week my virtual tour continues with a visit to County Kilkenny.
County Kilkenny’s Hidden Gems
1. Kilfane Waterfall & Glen
We begin our tour of County Kilkenny in this haven of peace and tranquility near Thomastown. Kilfane Glen covers some 15 acres and dates back to the 1790s. The original planting remains intact and includes ferns, foxgloves and mature trees, as well as this 30ft waterfall. It is listed as an Irish Heitage Garden and is only open to the public for 2 months a year during the summer. Simply idyllic.
2. Jerpoint Abbey
Staying in the Thomastown area and the magnificent ruins of Jerpoint Abbey. The former Cistercian abbey dates back to 1180 and the remains of the church date back to this time. However, the tower that we see today was built in the 15th Century. When the monastery was dissolved under the reign of King Henry VIII, it was granted to the 9th Earl of Ormond. One of the most striking features are the incredibly well preserved stone carvings.
3. Kytelers Inn
Time to head back to the city now to a hidden gem with an intriguing tale! Kytelers Inn is the oldest in Kilkenny, dating back to the 12th century. Dame Alice Kyteler established the inn which was an extension of her lavish home that she shared with her first husband, William Outlawe. When William mysteriously died 3 years later, tongues started to wag. Her next marriage to Adam le Blund also ended with his untimely death as did her third marriage to Richard de Valle. All three husbands had left everything in their wills to Alice making her one of the wealthiest people in Kilkenny.
When her fourth husband, the wealthy Sir John le Poer fell ill, his children grew suspicious, especially as he was thinking of leaving his fortune to Alice. They convinced their father that Alice was trying to kill him. The story goes that upon searching Alice’s room, her husband found poisons and potions. He reported this to the Bishop Of Ossory who then had Alice charged with heresy and witchcraft. When Alice’s close friend Petronella was whipped into confessing to witchcraft and heresies performed by her mistress, Alice’s fate was sealed. However, she managed to escape from the dungeons of Kilkenny Castle and fled to England. On the way, it is said she sought refuge in County Kilkenny’s famous Dunmore Cave in Ballyfoyle.
4. Shankill Castle
So anyone who has been to County Kilkenny will of course be familiar with the impressive Kilkenny Castle in the city. However, the lesser known Shankill Castle in Paulstown on the Carlow/Kilkenny border is well worth a visit. It began life as a tower house owned by the Butler dynasty who resided at Kilkenny Castle in the city.
The castle was rebuilt in 1708 by Peter Aylward as a Queen Anne house with formal landscaping. It was extended and castellated in the 19th century. Today it is inhabited by the Cope family who have devoted themselves to its preservation as well as creating an artists residency program. The stunning gardens are open to the public and there are guided tours of the house.
5. Rothe House
We’re heading back to the heart of Kilkenny city for the last stop on this week’s tour. Rothe House is a 17th century merchant townhouse which is beautifully preserved. It was built by John Rothe Fitz- Piers between 1594 and 1610. It remains the only surviving example of this type of architecture in Ireland. Today it houses a fascinating museum and beautiful tranquil gardens. Well worth a visit!
Well, that’s all from me for this week. Do join me on the road next time as the virtual tour continues!
Take care of yourselves and each other,
Slán go fóill!