What's your idea of a perfect day, or perfect weekend out in Kilkenny?
A perfect Kilkenny day would begin with a nice warm meal. Nothing beats a good tuna and cheese bagel from O’Briens. The weather would have to be nice and sunny, so I could enjoy it on the grass field beside Kilkenny Castle. The rest of the day would be spent between MacDonagh Junction and Market Cross, shopping to my heart’s content.
Who has made the greatest contribution to Kilkenny in your lifetime - and why?
Definitely my old school principal Mr O’Neill. He had a great way of bringing the community together. He’s by far one of the best teachers to bless this county. Sure, there were times where he got strict, but ultimately, he always wanted the best for his students and his community. Plus he knew how to have a laugh. An inspiration for sure.
What's your first Kilkenny memory?
I instantly made some friends upon moving to Ballyragget. A couple of the local kids were curious to see who was moving in and we just hit it off. That’s been my experience here ever since. People are friendly and welcoming, no matter where you’re from. I never felt like an outsider here.
What's your favourite part of the county - and why?
There’s a small forested area between my estate and the local boy school called “the back river”. My friends and I shared many great memories beside that little creek. It always felt like an adventure when you climbed over the wall to get in. It was the perfect place to let your imagination run wild as a little kid.
What do you think gives Kilkenny it's unique identity?
Sport without a doubt. People here love their hurling. I’d say it’s one of the most integral parts of the Kilkenny identity. Whenever there’s a hurling match on, people come out in droves to show their support. The GAA is central to the lives of many people in Kilkenny.
Do you have a favourite local writer or author?
I can’t say that I do, but I have been really enjoying a book about the Butler family. It’s called “The Chief Butlers of Ireland and the House of Ormond” and it was edited by John Kirwan. I didn’t realise just how many historical connections the Butler family has. It can be a bit too academic at times, but it’s really made me appreciate Kilkenny’s history.
What’s the biggest challenge facing the county today?
The lack of a university. It forces a lot of young people to leave the county. I really think it could be a lucrative opportunity for Kilkenny. Being able to stay at home and study would be hugely beneficial, especially with the ever-increasing cost of student accommodation. If there’s a future for young people here, then there’s a future for Kilkenny.
If you had the power to change on thing in, or about Kilkenny, what would it be?
I’d update the roads. Cycling is probably my favourite way to exercise, but I just don’t feel safe on most Kilkenny roads. Most of them time they’re far too narrow, so my bike is practically hugging the ditch beside me. Couple that with some of the tight turns and you’re in for a disaster. I think drivers would also appreciate if they didn’t have to share a lane with cyclists.