Ireland Driving Tour Day One: Exploring Kilkenny and the Best Airbnb of Life

After spending a few days in Dublin, we rented a car and began our driving tour of Ireland with a stop in Kilkenny. Since Kilkenny is only about an hour and a half from Dublin, this was the perfect way to get comfortable driving on the opposite side of the road and get used to navigating. (I’ve written a post all about our experience renting a car in Ireland here).

Our first stop was our AirBNB which was actually in the countryside outside of Kilkenny. I can’t rave about this place enough. It is one of my favorite places we have ever stayed, and it came complete with an enthusiastic dog named Zelda. (You can book it here!)


Zelda looking longingly in our door, waiting for us to come outside and play.

After meeting our hosts and  dropping our things off in our cottage, we set out for Kilkenny town. When we arrived in town, we stopped at a cafe for a bit of lunch before heading to Kilkenny Castle. Jonathan says the sandwich he had a Willoughby’s was one of the best sandwiches of his life. And that’s coming from a guy who has an elaborate rating system for sandwiches.

We had lunch at Willoughby’s. It was actually quite picturesque, but the picture is ruined by the cars and the traffic barriers.

The grounds of Kilkenny Castle are free and open to the public although there is a fee of €8/adult for a tour of the inside of the castle. There is a free 12-minute audiovisual presentation in the medieval room which gives good background information about the castle.


The original castle was built at the beginning of the 13th century, but buildings were added and changes were made over the next 600 years. For the majority of that time, the castle was owned by one family, the Butlers. The castle is now owned and maintained by the Office of Public Works and it even features a public conference center for use by community members.

The grounds are extensive and serve as a sort of public park. It was a beautiful day and there were people everywhere picnicking, playing soccer, and taking walks.


Eventually we wandered out of the castle grounds and to a path that ran along the canal. We meandered down this path until it joined a more main road and headed on in the direction of St. Canice’s Cathedral, whose towers we could see in the distance.



We arrived at the cathedral shortly before closing time, so we weren’t sure if they would let us in, but luckily we were still able to purchase a ticket to go up the round tower. I say luckily…it was an extremely narrow tower, so climbing it involved essentially climbing flights of ladders while a recording played telling us how the tower was built on uneven ground and therefore had a lean to it. Not the most comforting of words when one is climbing a tower built in the year 1111!


You can purchase a ticket to walk through the cathedral for €4.50/adult or to climb the tower for €4. There is also a discounted combo ticket for €7/adult. Kids under age 12 are not permitted to climb the tower.

Afterwards, we wandered around the cobbled streets of the town on shaky legs for a while longer before popping into a supermarket and picking up some cheese, salami, and wine for our dinner. When we arrived back at the cottage, we were greeted by an enthusiastic Zelda as well as a round loaf of freshly baked bread still warm from the oven. We had wine and cheese and  fresh bread and strawberries from the garden before I took a bath in the beautiful claw foot tub and we tucked in for a relaxing night. If you know me at all, you will know that wine, cheese, fresh bread, and a bath in a clawfoot are the components for my most perfect evening, so I was one happy girl.


You can watch the vlog of our time in Kilkenny here. If you are able, please give the video a thumbs up on YouTube or subscribe to see more travel videos. I’m not particularly good at this yet, but I am trying to learn and it really helps to have the support!



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