County Kilkenny is full of really interesting places to visit. Here are five historical sites in County Kilkenny well worth visiting.
The Black Abbey (originally part of the Dominican Priory) was established by the Dominican Order in the early 13th century. In more recent years it was rebuilt and it now features a gorgeous window of stained glass, which has added to its status as an historical attraction. The habits of the Dominican priests used to be black, hence the Abbey’s name. These priests had a monastery here, but the buildings where they ate and prayed are no longer standing. They tended to the farmland and operated a mill, located beside the River Breagagh.
Discovery Park now stands on what used to be the land and stables of the Wandesforde Estate. Lovers of the outdoors can explore the 32 hectares of forests, with just under 4 miles of trails, and go fishing on the lakes. Inside the walled gardens is a collection of rare animals which visitors can admire. There is also a kids’ play area which complements the park very well. The Footprints in Coal exhibition tells the story of the coal mining industry in Castlecomer over 400 years. Inside the stable yard are a number of operating small business owners who also have their sculpting, pottery, furniture and art workshops, amongst many others, on the premises.
Grace’s Courthouse now stands on the site of an early 13th century fortress. In the late 16th century this fortress was turned into a gaol, and an adjacent castle dating from the 1500s also became part of the structure. This original fortress now forms part of the basement of the courthouse on Parliament Street. This courthouse was built in the 1800s, and incorporated another gaol which dated from the 1700s. Hence, different sections of the courthouse date from very different centuries. Parliament Street is in Kilkenny’s popular historical quarter.
The 98 feet long, 10 feet high Hoban Memorial was unveiled in 2008, to commemorate the passing of 250 years since James Hoban was born in 1758. Hoban was the architect of the White House. His Memorial was erected at Desart, Cuffesgrange, by students of architecture at the Catholic University of Washington DC and Kilkenny craftsmen. This site is nearby where Hoban was born. The Memorial is a fitting tribute to this man of note and is worth visiting.
The Cistercian Jerpoint Abbey, near Thomastown, dates from the 1100s. It features a very impressive cloistered section, with intricate stonework. Visitors can learn about the history of the Abbey at the visitor and exhibition centres. Towards the 13th century, Newtown Jerpoint grew up around the Abbey and a shallow part of the River Nore, which people used to cross the river. Nowadays this deserted town is a National Monument called Jerpoint Park. The Heritage Council of Ireland deems it amongst the best preserved deserted medieval towns in Ireland. As one wanders around the park they can admire the ruins of St. Nicholas’s Church and its tower, as well as a medieval tomb dating from the 1300s. One can also see what remains of ancient houses.