Time flies! This year is the fourth year anniversary since I relocated in Dublin. By this time, you might assume that I have been to a lot of places or tourist destination over here. Unfortunately, no. In fact, a close friend based in California right now might’ve been to a lot more places than I do – and he is only around for short business trips!
A couple of months ago, my husband had a business conference at the Lyrath Estate in Kilkenny. It was a two-day conference requiring him to spend a couple of nights there. He was seriously contemplating to skip the event until I suggested that we take that as an opportunity to visit Kilkenny and have a look around. I haven’t been to Kilkenny and thought that while I wasn’t too busy with work (and while the weather is alright); take that chance to have a family weekend getaway. So after making a few phone calls to book for extra days in the venue, we packed our bags for our first trip to Kilkenny!
It was a 45-minute train ride to go to Kilkenny from the city center (leaving from Heuston Station). My husband’s conference ran from Thursday to Friday, finishing around lunch time. And because we were traveling with a toddler, we decided to book an extra day to arrive Wednesday evening. We thought it was a better idea rather than getting stressed very early on Thursday morning to catch our train. And will give ample time for my husband to arrive on time for his conference.
My husband’s conference’s venue was at the Lyrath Estate and the company booked for their accommodation in the same building, too. After the 45-minute train ride, it was an additional 15 minutes to get to the Estate by car from the train station. The venue was really nice, spacious, and clean. It is also child-friendly and so far, this is one of the best family-friendly accommodations we’ve been to in Ireland! They have lots of facilities suitable for small children, too. Apart from the free milk and cookie you can request from Room Service at nighttime, they also have a play area filled with toys like ball swim, blocks, and a kiddie slide. So while my husband was at the conference, my son was never bored inside the room!
The central area of Kilkenny is just about 20-minutes away by taxi from the Estate. So after my husband’s conference on Friday that week, we booked a cab to get to the city center. While we were en route, the taxi driver gave us a few tips. We didn’t have any concrete plans where to go and basically just wanted to walk around the city. So the driver suggested he’d drop us off the Kilkenny Castle and we can walk around from there.
After the cab dropped us off, we took a leisure stroll around the area as my son slept inside the pram. While walking, we spotted a few places to have dinner not to mention we were able to appreciate the relaxed and small town vibe of Kilkenny. Kilkenny’s city center seems smaller than Dublin’s but the ambiance felt a lot more – homey. I also noticed that the locals are a lot nicer – especially the kids! I was surprised to be “given way” a number of times by children aged between 8 – 15 years old, so kudos to their parents for raising them to have impeccable manners!
Appreciating the locals is one thing but being in a new place, sightseeing is a must. Especially since we only have the Friday afternoon to do that, we tried to at least catch a glimpse of as much tourist destination as we can. The weather was quite unpredictable but luckily, we were able to see the exhibits on display at the National Craft Gallery, passed by an old local post office, checked out a small alley filled with pubs and cafés, and uttered a short prayer at the Black Abbey. We passed by and tried getting in at St. Mary’s Cathedral, too. Unfortunately for us, the only way to get inside was through a flight of stairs, which is difficult with a child sleeping inside the pram. So we moved on and decided to entertain ourselves by visiting Kilkenny’s local ale’s souvenir’s shop instead – Smithwicks. Smithwicks is an Irish red ale and similar to Guinness, features a thick and creamy head. For those traveling to Kilkenny without kids and wouldn’t mind the noise from the tour, you may want to consider joining the brewery tour!
After a few minutes of walking, we went on our way towards Kilkenny Castle. Kilkenny Castle was the only tourist spot we sort of planned to visit. It was recommended by one of my husband’s colleagues and hard-to-miss because it is within the city proper. Inside the castle lies a HUGE garden where you can walk your dogs or even play football! Upon arrival, we were unsure whether to take a quick tour inside or not, when suddenly, our little man woke from his nap! Well played, son.
Since our “little boss” is now awake, we ditched the plans to take the tour and settled outdoors. There was a playground within the castle gardens and brought our son there to play. The play area was really nice with various activities suitable for kids of different ages. There was also a footpath around the gardens for kids with scooters or bikes, too. I’d say Kilkenny Castle is more than just a tourist spot for adults. It is a great spot for small children to have fun, too!
After allowing my son to play, we moved on to have dinner at a pub we spotted while walking around earlier. The place called Kyteler’s Inn had amazing interior! I don’t watch GoT (sorry fans) but my husband said the pub can be a perfect location to shoot some scenes for the famous series.
The staff was attentive and friendly. They even helped us with our son’s pram as the entrance had a flight of stairs (again). The food was great and while having dinner, a duo started playing to entertain us. My son definitely enjoyed it as he was dancing while sitting in his high chair and clapped vigorously when a set ended.
It was a short trip to Kilkenny but truly made a mark for me. On our way back to Dublin, I can’t help but tell my husband that I won’t mind coming back!