Technology meets history as castle launches ‘app’

People may be crying “Scrooge!” with spending cuts and taxes on the way this Christmas, but there was a festive atmosphere as Kilkenny linked up Christmas past, present and future on Monday morning.

People may be crying “Scrooge!” with spending cuts and taxes on the way this Christmas, but there was a festive atmosphere as Kilkenny linked up Christmas past, present and future on Monday morning.

The occasion was the launch of a new Kilkenny Castle iPhone app, marking its modern side, and the programme of events with a Victorian theme, celebrating the castle’s heritage.

The free ‘app’ includes both a virtual tour of the castle’s 20 rooms and a regularly updated calendar of events in the castle, Parade Tower and Butler Gallery. And to make it easier for people to download the app, there is also free WiFi available in the castle’s reception area.The information is included in English and Irish, and some at the launch suggested that it could reach an even wider audience with translations into other languages.

Performing the launch was Brendan Hayes, minister of state with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW), accompanied by Environment Minister Phil Hogan.

“One of the reasons we are here today is to prove to people in this country that Christmas is actually going ahead”, in other words that “it has not been cancelled,” Deputy Hayes said.

Noting that the castle’s visitor numbers increased 5% this year despite the recession, Deputy Hayes said he hoped the app – the first to be created for an OPW heritage site – would help the number to grow even further.

“We see this as a huge potential for Irish tourism generally,” he said.

Minister Hogan said the technology would help to market Kilkenny Castle nationally and internationally, and also to continue to help open up the castle to the public.

“Even though we had eight or nine hundred years when you couldn’t get in here that easily, we wanted to make sure the community is a major part of this,” he said.

“We want to bring it home to people that the investment that the state has made in ensuring that places like this are brought to their former glory” are also intended to be enjoyed by the local community, Minister Hogan said.

A variety of free events are being held in the Castle

December 10 -11-11.45 Storytelling (all ages); 12.15-1.15pm Stained glass lantern workshop (10 years and up); 2.15-3pm Storytelling (all ages); 3.30-4pm Christmas angels workshop (6 years and up)

December 11 - 10-11.30am and 12.30-2pm Sword making and stage combat (7-10 years); 2-2.30pm Sonas chamber choir; 2.30-3.30pm Magician (up to 10 years); 2.45-3.15pm Kilkenny Gospel Choir; 3.30-4pm Unity Singers3.45-4.15pm Music for Tiny Tots (up to 4 years)

December 17 - 11-11.45am Storytelling (all ages); 12.15-1pm Mini Christmas tree workshop (3 years and up); 2.15-3pm Storytelling (all ages); 3.30-4pm Christmas angels workshop (6 years and up)

December 18 - 10-11.30am and 12.30-2pm Sword making and stage combat (7-10 years); 2.15-2.45pm Thukolo Gospel Choir; 2.30-3.30 Magician (up to 10 years); 3-3.30pm Dungarvan Choir; 3.30-4pm Deirdre Gannon; 3.45-4.15 Music for Tiny Tots (up to 4 years). Call 056 7704100 for places,