The Kenny family: Pat, Millie, Heidi, Ciara and Sophie
The first-ever Kilkenny Day on Sunday, October 11, turned into a roaring success, with Kilkenny people at home and abroad using their imagination and ingenuity to join in, while those at home got out and about in a very safe socially distanced way.
Events both physical and virtual took place right across the county. One of the hits of the day was a hilarious video from the Walsh hurling clan of Tullaroan, whose ‘Pride in our Place’ video went viral almost immediately on the Kilkenny Day Facebook page.
With so many of Kilkenny’s vital and vibrant festivals falling to Covid-19 cancellation, Kilkenny County Council launched this innovative day of celebration of all things Kilkenny and managed to host over 40 events with just a few weeks’ notice.
Online events gained huge traction and included the ‘Kilkenny Conversations’ series of interviews conducted by broadcaster and chef Edward Hayden from the Duchess Boardroom of Kilkenny Castle. The personal insights from Kilkenny’s own Fran Grincell, Kathleen Moran, Noel Sherry, Ruth Calder-Potts, Fr Willie Purcell, Pat Crotty and Nicky Brennan will remain on the Facebook page as part of an archive of insights into Kilkenny, which its hoped to build on.
Edward was also joined by his long-term partner and co-host in all things food, Anne Neary, Ryeland Cookery School. The pair broadcasted another entertaining session showcasing a range of delicious Kilkenny food products from Ballykeeffe, Bob and Joan’s, Highbank, Aran, Cakeface and Truffle Fairy.
The reaction to photographic and video competitions also showed how much people like dressing themselves, their pets and their cars and houses up. There were plenty of cat-themed pictures, cartoons and photographs submitted by young and old alike.
The response of the schoolchildren of the county to Kilkenny Day — from Mooncoin to Lisnafunchin — to the 1,000 Bikes to School was phenomenal. The hope now is that the younger generation have been inspired to make their journeys to school healthier and kinder to the environment.
Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council Andrew McGuinness thanked the business and community sector for their support.
“The Kilkenny business community came on board with great enthusiasm and spirit. The fact that most city-centre shops were decorated in the black and amber showed their determination to keep the business show on the road," he said.
"Our communities embraced their county origin and were out and about to support the great variety of events organised, from
a river walk and clean-up with Nore Vision to a sculpture walk with the National Crafts Council and an artistic cat hunt in the grounds of Woodstock Gardens. The street markets on the Parade, Kilkenny City and at Kells Mill, showcased the best of Kilkenny artisan food and local craft producers and proved hugely popular. The fabulous animations from the Cartoon Saloon’s new blockbuster hit, Wolfwalkers, projected onto the walls of Kilkenny Castle was an amazing addition to the Day.”
Kilkenny County Council director of services Tim Butler expressed his sincere thanks to all those who had put their shoulder to the wheel to make Kilkenny Day a special day for everyone.
“The list of events and the levels of participation on Sunday were remarkable,” he said.
“The small event team managed to ‘cajole’ so many businesses, schools, community groups and others to come on board and the buzz around the city and county showed how people miss all the celebrations and festivals that are such a part of Kilkenny life.”
Council chief executive Colette Byrne said the first Kilkenny Day would not be the last, and people were craving an opportunity to show off their pride in their county and to have a bit of fun, despite the current difficulties.
“I would urge the people of Kilkenny to continue to support their neighbours in the business, community and arts sectors who need this support more than ever,” she said.
"You may not get to sit in a seat in Croke Park in 2020 but we can ensure that our flags continue to fly high with typical Kilkenny pride.”