Magical medieval gem in Kilkenny city opens up permanently

The only surviving complete defensive tower of the old City Wall

Sean Keane

Reporter:

Sean Keane

Email:

sean.keane@kilkennypeople.ie

Talbot's Tower photographed from its New Street entrance in Kilkenny city

Medieval gem and last surviving intact tower of the old City Wall, Talbot's Tower, Ormond Street, Kilkenny

After many years of frustration, an important piece of the medieval fabric of Kilkenny city has reopened to the public.

Not many people have had the opportunity to go on top of Talbot's Tower on Ormonde Street but that will change from today. And it is only when you mount the steps to the top that you appreciate its scale and the huge town ditch below going right up to the sloping stone wall at the base of the tower that stopped the city's enemies in the 13th and 14th centuries from tunneling underneath it.

From its summit, there are wonderful views and you can see Kilkenny Castle, St Canice’s Cathedral and Round Tower as well as St Mary’s Church. It does have the ‘wow factor’.

For those seeking titillation, we know from excavations that the top of the tower had a very spicy history. Finds there included fragments of Victorian wine bottles, clay tobacco pipes, hair pins, metal lace chapes (to hold female undergarments in place) and many ladies’ buttons.

A dazzling array of artefacts including .303 bullets and cases which may have been used by Free State forces against the Republican occupation of Kilkenny Castle during the Civil War were also found. Lead musket shot fired at the tower probably date from one of the 16th century sieges of the city.

It will provide a real focal point for the old City Walls of Kilkenny and provide visitors with a place to start their tour of what was once a magnificent defence system. 

It was officially opened this afternoon by the chairman of Kilkenny County Council, Cllr David Fitzgerald who emphasised its importance as the only surviving complete defensive tower of the old City Wall.

He paid tribute to former mayor, Betty Manning who led the crusade to have it reinstated and opened to the public and he thanked current City Engineer, Simon Walton for his work, over the last few months in getting the medieval gem open to the public.