The medieval city of Kilkenny, aka the Marble City, is one of Ireland’s top tourist destinations. What makes it somewhat unique amongst its peers is that those who visit Kilkenny often come for very, very different reasons. Indeed, those who wander through its medieval heart fall into five distinct categories:
1. The stags and hens: In 2009, Kilkenny marked its 400-year anniversary of being granted city status. It was a bumper year as it happened to also coincide with the city celebrating its centenary as one of Ireland’s most popular stag and hen destinations. For a very long time, stags and hens have come to Kilkenny to either commemorate their departing singledom or celebrate their approaching marriage. In fact, so popular has Kilkenny become that, along with its stag and hen-hosting younger siblings of Carrick and Carlingford, it is believed that 76% of Ireland’s bubble soccer, paintball, go-kart and clay pigeon shooting venues are concentrated within a 10-kilometre radius of these three towns, and at least one Chinese industrial city is kept in business solely from sales of its willy-straws, blow-up dolls and penis hats that end up out and about on their streets.
2. The comedy lovers: Back in 1994, someone had the bright idea (for ‘bright’, read ‘bizarre’) that Kilkenny was naturally placed to host Ireland’s premier comedy festival because, as everyone knows, Kilkenny has a long tradition of humour that stretches back all the way to … er … 1994. And it worked, with the Cat Laughs now one of the most internationally-acclaimed comedy festivals.
3. The economics and comedy lovers: Back in 2010, someone had the bright idea (for ‘bright’, read ‘even more bizarre’) idea that Kilkenny was naturally placed to host Ireland’s premier economics and comedy festival because, as everyone knows, Kilkenny also has a long tradition of economics and humour that stretches back all the way to … er … 2010. And, not for the first time it worked, and Kilkenomics is now one of the most internationally-acclaimed economics and comedy festivals.
4. The music and arts aficionados: With a roots festival and a gospel festival bookending the summer, as well as an arts festival that ushers in autumn, this cohort of visitors make up one of the largest segments of the non-penis hat-wearing tourists that visit Kilkenny.
5. The history connoisseurs: And last but not least, Kilkenny welcomes those who are drawn to its history and who come to visit what was briefly the medieval capital of Ireland. Along its recently christened Medieval Mile, tourists can stroll through the city’s historic centre, which stretches from Kilkenny Castle to St Canice’s Cathedral, taking in such sights as Rothe House, the Black Abbey, Grace’s Old Castle, Tholsel Town Hall, St John’s Priory, the Butter Slip, Talbot Tower, Kyteler’s Inn and finally the Smithwicks Experience, home to one of Ireland’s most distinguished ales that has caused our pubs to smell of old man’s farts a full 49 years before Guinness starting doing the same. And let them never forget that!