Chief executive of Kilkenny County Council Colette Byrne
What's your idea of a perfect day, or perfect weekend out in Kilkenny?
What better way to start any day than an easy run in the Castle Park- emphasis on the word easy! What a beautiful setting. Breakfast in Butler House overlooking the beautiful gardens followed by a wander through the Design and Craft gallery. A walk along the River Nore out to Bennettsbridge for lunch in Mosses followed by a little retail therapy in some of Kilkenny's boutiques. My perfect day would be complete if I make it to High Bank Orchard to pick up a supply of Cider Vinegar, the best cure I know for aches and pains!
Who has made the greatest contribution to Kilkenny in your lifetime- and why?
As a person with a little bit of interest in sport it has to be Brian Cody, his contribution to Kilkenny and his achievements along with his players is incredible. As other counties struggle to put back-to-back All Irelands together Brian's achievements are starting to look even better! My unsung heroes for their contribution to Kilkenny are the Tidy Towns volunteers, the length and breadth of the county, who organise community cleanups. The contribution they make can often go unnoticed.
What's your first Kilkenny memory?
Bringing my two sons, as small boys, to Inistioge and Woodstock for family days out. It is such a beautiful place any time of year, every season has its charm. I loved to see the progress made on the restoration of the Walled Gardens in between our visits.
What's your favourite part of the county- and why?
There are a number of contenders but I will go with Castlecomer. Its formal street and lovely streetscape provide a beautiful setting. The Discovery Park has something for everyone, regardless of age or interest. The reuse of some of the old buildings for craft workers and craft shops is lovely. Christmas in the Discovery Park is a real treat, forget going to Lapland, we have it on our doorstep! But most of all it is a great example of a community that has faced a harsh recession reimagining itself and repurposing its assets for a modern use. I see community resilience throughout the county, another good example is the community in Ballyhale coming together to open a community shop and coffee shop. Billy's Tearoom well worth a visit if you haven't been.
What do you think gives Kilkenny its unique identity?
The built heritage in the city is very unique, the lanes and slipways along with the fantastic heritage buildings that have survived, been protected and enhanced to tell Kilkenny's Medieval story. It is the built environment that provides the unique setting for so many of our Festivals. A ramble through Kilkenny during the Arts Festival to find the secret garden performances in really unique locations is special.
What's the biggest challenge facing the county today?
Like the rest of the country the housing crisis is a big concern. The provision of social housing is very challenging but it is equally difficult for young people starting out in life to afford their own home and the cost of renting and mortgages is impacting on the level of discretionary spend that people have. Solving the housing issue means the provision of a mix of social and private affordable accommodation.
If you had the power to change one thing in or about Kilkenny what would it be?
Illegal dumping is one of my pet hates. if I could wave a magic wand and stop illegal dumping I would. Cleaning up dumped rubbish is such a waste of scarce resources.