Kilkenny Castle: Everything You Need to Know

By | 2017-02-26T15:54:42+00:00 February 14th, 2017|Kilkenny, Places to Visit, Things to Do|2 Comments

Contact Information

Kilkenny Castle,
The Parade,
Telephone: +353 56 770 4100 (Reception)
Telephone: +353 56 770 4106 (Group Bookings)
E-mail: (Group Bookings)
E-mail: (Other Queries)

kilkenny castle map


Adult: € 7
Senior: € 5
Child (6-18): € 5
Child (under 5):No charge

Opening Hours

October – February 9:30 – 1630
March 9:30 – 1700
April, May 9:30 – 1730
June, July August 09.00 – 1730
September 9:30 – 1730
Closed December 24th-27th


Last admission 45 minutes before closing.
Self-guided tours

Guided tours

Information Leaflet available in Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian & Spanish.
Guiding Leaflet is available in braille on request.
Guide Book: English, Irish, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Polish.
Audio Guide: English
Tours on average take 1 hour

Sinead’s thoughts.

Please note when visiting Kilkenny Castle flash photography is strictly prohibited inside the Castle itself. Non flash photography is allowed but images are for personal use only. Video and Filming is not allowed.

sinead outside kilkenny castle

Kilkenny City is one of Ireland’s most vibrant and exciting places to visit. It is packed full of vibrant pubs, restaurants, shops and cafes. It’s History as a Medieval City is evident in its streets with Kilkenny Castle taking pride of place within the City Centre. The Castle has an imposing presence, proudly telling its story as one of Ireland’s most important Norman strongholds, it was the nerve centre of Norman Ireland, telling all who pass through The Castle gates of its strength and endurance. The Norman Conquest of Ireland saw the most powerful Norman Lords in History put their stamp on Ireland’s landscape and Kilkenny was one of the most important. Walking around the Castle it’s easy to understand why.

The Normans understood that to maintain control of a conquered land they needed strategically placed strongholds that were connected to major trade routes, the site of Kilkenny Castle ticked all those boxes.The most infamous Norman Lord during the conquest was Strongbow, at the height of his power strongbow’s wealth, power and influence rivalled that of the King.

entrance to kilkenny castle

The Castle today is still dominated by William Marshall’s influence, it has changed and holds influences from many eras in the Castle’s, long and dramatic life but Norman influence is evident in all the major features of Kilkenny Castle. It’s a pleasure to walk inside a Castle that has been lovely cared for, seeing the magnificent furniture, paintings and architectural features from generations is awe inspiring. Walking through Kilkenny Castle is like being enclosed in a time capsule and it stimulates every part of the imagination, To explore a Castle that has withstood the test of time can only be described as a privilege, its history brought to life preserved with pride for future generations.


Kilkenny Castle as we see it today was built by William Marshall, the Earl of Pembroke and construction was started in 1195. Kilkenny was a strategic point in Norman defences, as it was the meeting point of several major trade routes and situated on the River Nore, which flows to join the River Suir from Waterford and the River Barrow from Marshall’s port at New Ross, the 3 rivers are known as the Three Sisters. Ireland best known Norman Strongbow (Richard De Clare) arrived in Kilkenny in 1172 and constructed a Norman style Motte and Bailey. Before the Norman invasion Kilkenny, was the main seat of power of The Kings of Osraighe making Kilkenny vital in the Norman conquest of Ireland.

kilkenny castle grounds

In 1195 William Marshall who was Strongbow’s son in law, married to his daughter Isabella, started his Stone Castle replacing the Motte and Bailey that Strongbow built. Three of the Stone Towers that were commissioned by Marshall are still visible and are a dominating feature of the Castle architecture.The Castle passed into the hands of Sir Gilbert De Bohun in 1270. He held the castle until his death in 1391, apart from a brief period when he fell out of favour with Edward I (Longshanks), he briefly became outcast of the King. Upon his death The Crown decided to take control of The Castle and its lands and sold it to the Butlers of Ormonde.

The Butler family arrived in Ireland during the Norman invasion and changed their title from Fitzwalter to Butler. They were dependant on The Crown for land and titles which brought them great fortune, thus they showed The Crown extreme loyalty. They became an extremely powerful, trusted, influential and wealthy family. James Butler 3RD Earl of Ormonde bought Kilkenny Castle, as a result he became the Ruler of the area.

The Butlers and their descendants ruled for centuries. The Castle and the Butlers survived and endued through the Reigns of many Kings and Queens, also enduring periods of war and civil unrest. At the approach of the 18th century the Castle had become rundown. Upon the marriage of the 17th Earl to Anne Wandesford of Castlecomer money became readily available to start some much need repairs on the Castle. Later the family made an effort to restore the Medieval facade and additions were made to the Castle.

The Butler family were in residence at Kilkenny Castle until 1935 when after centuries of residence in Ireland they returned to England. Arthur Butler 24th Earl of Ormonde and its 6th Marquees sold the Castle to the Restoration Committee for a sum of £50 to be held in trust for the people of Kilkenny. From that time on there has been extensive restoration and numerous excavations as well as conservation preformed on the Castle and its grounds.

About the Author:

Sinead is the head of our Historical and Cultural research team. Sinead studied Archaeology with modular Anthropology, and has Post Graduate qualifications in Heritage Management, including History, Museum Management and Religious Studies.


  1. Bill Wheellock February 14, 2017 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    Wow Sinead! I can’t wait to visit Kilkenny when I come over from Boston. My ancestors come from Kilkenny Amazing post about the Castle I really enjoyed it.

  2. Sinead Murphy February 14, 2017 at 7:24 pm - Reply

    Thank you Bill. We hope you enjoy your trip to Ireland. If you want any topics covered before you make the trip over don’t hesitate to ask.

Leave A Comment