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Kilkenny Castle (Travel Tips and Guide For First-Time Visitors)

Recently hailed as one of the most beautiful castles in the world alongside Versailles and Windsor by the Architectural Digest, Kilkenny Castle is among the largest and most important castles in Ireland’s history, dating as far back as the 12th century. If you are planning to visit Kilkenny, this castle is one of the must-sees in town.

So here’s our quick guide for everything that you need to know about Kilkenny Castle – one of the best castles in the city. 

Kilkenny Castle facade


Kilkenny Castle Travel Tips and Guide

History of Kilkenny Castle

The foundations were laid by the Norman Knight Richard de Clare, who was nicknamed Strongbow and one of the devout knights. Strongbow helped Henry II of England seize control of some regions of Ireland, from 1171 onwards.

He also laid the original wooden castle buildings in 1172. When he died four years later,  his lands eventually passed to his daughter’s husband – William Marshall. Marshal, who eventually became the 4th Earl of Pembroke, rebuilt the castle after it was devastated during the Norman conquest.

It then became home to the powerful Butler Family, also Normans in origin who dominated much of the South East of Ireland for several hundred years until they signed over the castle to the state.

kilkenny castle ireland

The magnificent castle is now one of the top places to see in Ireland. It overlooks the River Nore and along with the gardens, its winding woodland trails and ornamental lake provide the perfect setting for an idyllic stroll.

Only parts of the original castle built in the 12th century remain and the majority we see today is from the 19th-century reconstruction and restoration efforts.

Things to see and do in Kilkenny Castle

Entrance Hall of the castle

Entrance Hall

A must see inside the Kilkenny Castle is the Long Gallery, a dramatic room with painted ceilings and portraits of the Butler family, and the Butler Gallery, a room filled with art and rotating exhibitions. Make sure you also visit the Picture Gallery on the first floor, decorated in pre-Raphealite style, and the Carrara marble fireplace which is adorned with carved foliage.

Kilkenny Castle Drawing Room

Drawing Room

Other rooms you should see while inside the castle are the richly furnished Chinese Bedroom, the impressive wood-paneled dining room, and the nursery, with its beautifully made Victorian toys.

Chinese Bedroom in the castle

Chinese Bedroom

Outside in the castle grounds, stroll along with the formal rose gardens at the front to the rolling open green area at the back, wander down the hill to the riverside or along a shady route to the hidden duck pond. There’s a small cemetery there where members of the Butler family are buried including the grave of Sandy, a much-loved pet dog.

Kilkenny Castle Admission Fees

There are two admission fees for Kilkenny Castle. It depends whether you like a self-guided tour or a guided tour. For the rates, please see the admission fees below.

Self-Guided Admission Fees:

Adult €8
Senior (60+)/Group (20+ Adults/Seniors) €6
Child (12-17)/Student (with valid ID card) €4
Family €20

Guided Tours Admission Fees:

Adult €12
Senior (60+)/Group (20+ Adults/Seniors) €10
Child (12-17)/Student (with valid ID card) €6
Family €30

Guided Tours Availability Hours

October to February 09:30 – 16:30
March 09:30 – 17:00
April and May 09:30 – 17:30
June to August 09:00 – 17:30
September 09:30 – 17:30

Kilkenny Castle Opening Hours

January 09:00 – 16:00
February 09:00 – 16:30
March 09:00 – 17:30
April 08:30 – 19:00
May, June, July and August 08:30 – 20:30
September 08:30 – 19:00
October 09:00 – 17:30
November 09:00 – 16:30
December 09:00 – 16:00

Kilkenny Castle Tours

Kilkenny Castle is also one of the best day trips from Dublin and Cork. If you can’t stay in Kilkenny, you can also take one of these guided tours as well.

Kilkenny Castle Day Trip from Dublin

This guided castle tour from Dublin also includes a stop to the filming location of Braveheart, Wicklow Mountains, and Glendalough. It is also only € 33 per person. To book, click here.


Kilkenny Castle Day Trip from Cork

This guided Kilkenny Castle tour from Cork also includes a stop to the Rock of Cashel and Youghal. It is also only € 45 per person. To book, click here.


Tips for Kilkenny Castle

1. Don’t miss the beautiful souvenirs and gifts from Ireland from Kilkenny Design Center. It is just across the road from the castle and it used to be a part (as stables) of the castle grounds. They also serve nice pastries if you get hungry touring around the castle.

2. If you don’t want to pay extra for the guided tours, don’t worry about missing out. You can download this Kilkenny Castle Mobile Tour and Info app to help you navigate the castle and help you with history and information. The guided tours also fill up quickly and waiting time can be long so this is a good alternative if you are in a hurry.

3. There aren’t parking lots within the castle ground but you can park to the nearby Ormonde street parking area and by the Castle Road.

4. The castle ground is also pet-friendly so if you are looking to take your dogs, the surrounding area can be a good playground for them.

Contact Information

Address: The Parade Kilkenny R95 YRK1

Phone: +353 56 770 4108



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