KILKENNY is set for a major tourism boost when the BBC visits the city next week. Former British politician, Michael Portillo will be in the city as part of the new series of the hit series, Great British and Irish Rail Journeys.
He will highlight the black marble for which Kilkenny was famous for all over the world. He will travel to Harding’s Fireplaces in Gowran and to the one of the last remaining black marble quarries at Butlers Grove owned by Jim Harding, where he will get into a digger and excavate a block of the precious stone and transport it to Harding’s in Gowran where he will cut, shape, mould, polish and finish it off to create one of Harding’s much sought after fireplaces. The Colles family were the first to manufacture black marble in Kilkenny commercially and they had a huge quarry at Maddoxtown.
Mr Portillo will also go to Kilkenny Castle where he will look at the use of black marble in the castle over the centuries.
Mr Portillo, the former British Conserative MP and Government Minister will arrive at Kilkenny railway station on June 26, retracing the steps of the Victorian cartographer George Bradshaw who wrote Railway Companion and visited Kilkenny. It is a major coup for Kilkenny as the BBC programme is watched by millions of viewers every week.