Dear Kilkenny, have I told you lately that I love you? Of course I haven’t, I’ve been too busy. Too busy doing nothing during this God awful Covid pandemic.
And doing nothing takes a bit of doing. But I’m not going there.
Kilkenny, I love you. If you were a woman I’d marry you.
Oh, I’m married already but that’s a flesh and blood affair you’re bricks and mortar and much, much more. In fact my good wife loves you too. I love my wife, my wife loves me and we both love you, dear Kilkenny. That’s one happy threesome!
Indeed seldom a week goes by when my wife and I don’t look deep and meaningfully into each other’s eyes and say: ‘We are so lucky to be living in Kilkenny.’
And we are. And we often find ourselves saying that while strolling in the Castle Park, that wonderful expanse of greenery that offers airiness and space and a precious escape from the clutches of Covid.
Or we might be sauntering down the Canal or walking in the Millennium Wood (Coill an Fhaltaigh) a favourite haunt of ours, away from it all, still and silent, except for the chirping and cawing and cooing of nature.
I love your looks, Kilkenny: the Castle, strong, sturdy, stately, overseeing all in its majestic splendour, as it has done for over 800 years. St Canice’s tower, tall and upright, gazing down on historic Rothe House, the only surviving Tudor Merchant House in Ireland and nearby the River Nore gliding gracefully on its way to the sea as it has done for time immemorial.
I love the Tholsel, the heart of Kilkenny, your heart, where your people troop through every day and next door, ancient St Mary’s Church, now home to one of your recent additions: the Medieval Mile Museum which tells your story as it’s never been told before.
I love the sacredness of the Dominican Black Abbey, all of 267 years old when Christopher Columbus discovered America. I love your alleyways and slipways, reeking of history, and the boutique shops and restaurants ensconced there. Love the numerous cafes that have blossomed on your sidewalks and pavements and the incredible array of eateries you offer including two Michelin star restaurants!
As for your personality, dear Kilkenny, you have charm, charisma, class and style.
And why wouldn’t you have? You were, after all, the one-time capital of this country, all 32 counties (from 1642 to 1649, the Confederation of Kilkenny, your Confederation) something Dublin and Belfast have never been and I doubt will ever be.
Dear Kilkenny, you are a class act, and I love how you nurture art not least your recent ‘baby’: the new Butler Gallery at Evans Home (just behind the Carnegie Library) with its interesting galleries and delightful Muse Café.
But then art is second nature to you as is Arts & Crafts; after all you established the Kilkenny Design Workshops which propelled our city on to the international design stage while the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland has its headquarters in the Castle Yard.
Leading directly off the Castle Yard is one of your hidden treasures: the beautiful Butler House garden, a green oasis of peace and tranquility. And dear Kilkenny I love you for the performing arts: the Watergate Theatre, Barnstorm, Kats, Devious Theatre, Lake Productions, the Musical Society, Pantomime and for the feast of festivals you have supported: the Cat Laughs, Rhythm & Roots, Rockfall, Kilkenomics, Subtitle, Savour, Animation and, of course, our renowned, internationally acclaimed Arts Festival.
And then there’s the sporting joy you bring us: hurling, camogie, horse-racing and more. You, dear Kilkenny, are the most crowned champion of hurling, our national sport (36 titles, with Cork on 30 and Tipp trailing on 28). Every man, woman and child in the city and county loves you for that.
And, dear Kilkenny, I haven’t even touched on the numerous scenic and historic sites of your county: Woodstock, Kells, Jerpoint Abbey, Duiske Abbey to mention but a few.
Kilkenny, you are, in anyone’s language, one hell of a woman - lady, actually. And I love you dearly.