Last week’s announcement of €5.5 million in Failte Ireland funding towards the city’s ‘Medieval Mile’ initiative has served to refocus attention on the different ideas that Kilkenny’s local authorities have been considering with a view to strengthening our tourism offering.
Already confirmed and now progressing to the next stage of its development is the Great Garden, which will run along the bank of the River Nore through the heart of the city. The design tender for the garden is set to be the subject of international competition in the coming weeks.
The upgrade of the public realm will include High Street and Parliament Street, and involves new materials, footpath widening, and eventually, a one-way system. St Mary’s Church and graveyard is being refurbished and developed into a museum, with links to the National Museum of Ireland.
But eliciting just as much interest and discussion are a number of other projects, not yet confirmed, but which have been mooted for the city as part of the overall development.
One idea put forward is the conversion of the city’s historic Tholsel into a tourist and civic-information hub, with a focus on multimedia and interactivity. The building, which has been the seat of local government in Kilkenny for centuries, will become free when the borough council is wound down in 2014.
A vertical ‘Green Tower’ garden has also been proposed for the current carpark area outside the St Francis Abbey Brewery. It is thought that the garden, which would be lit up at night, would draw more tourists towards the northern end of town.
Finally, it has been suggeted that a tribute to Kilkenny’s hurlers will be put in place in the area where Kieran Street and High Street diverge. It would involve an ash tree and a ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame’-style plaza, with hurlers’ handprints in cement.