28 Sept 2022

Fifty reasons why I love Kilkenny

Gerry Moran Kilkenny

Sunday is Kilkenny Day, a day to celebrate our city and county

Sunday is Kilkenny Day, a day to celebrate our city and county; a day to celebrate our heritage, our music, and our craft.
I feel blessed that I live in Kilkenny, the Medieval Capital of Ireland, steeped in history and brimming with amenities: restaurants, cafes, pubs, hotels, museums, cinemas and shops.
I am proud to live in Kilkenny, proud of our hurling heritage and our marvellous achievements. A short aside here, was chatting with a friend recently who told me that she bumped into Bill Clinton in Dubai a while back. Recognising her Irish accent Bill asked where she was from. “Kilkenny,” she replied, to which Bill casually asked: “And how are the hurlers doing?”
To celebrate Kilkenny Day I am revisiting a column of mine from 2009 entitled: Fifty Reasons Why I Love Kilkenny. This is a variation on that column as some of those reasons from ’09 no longer pertain, for instance: ’the smell of hops wafting across the city from Smithwick’s brewery’ but there are plenty of newcomers. Here, in no particular order, are 50 reasons why I love Kilkenny.

1. The Canal Walk in the green lush of summer and the amber hues of autumn. 2. The Butter Slip and Market Slip. 3. Rothe House, Shee Alms House, the Tholsel, Grace’s Castle and the Castle, of course. 4. The new Butler Gallery, not least the permanent collection of Tony and Jane O’Malley’s works. 5 Saint Canice’s Cathedral and its ancient tower, standing sentinel over Irish town.
6. Our Arts Festival and the cultural richness it brings to our city. 7. The hallowed, holiness of the Black Abbey, its breath-taking Rosary window and enchanting Christmas crib. 8. St Mary’s Cathedral, tall and solemn, watching over our city. 9. Kenny’s Well keeping silent vigil beside the river Breagagh. 10. Black Freren Gate, the last remaining gate of our city walls.

11. Kilkenny’s skyline from Michael Street. 12. A stroll down John’s Quay in the late autumn dusk. 13. The Rose of Mooncoin and The Moon Behind the Hill. 14. The Castle Park and that expanse of green sloping down to the duck pond. 15. Pennefeather Lane, Pudding Lane, Chapel Lane, Velvet Lane, Coffin Lane, all our lanes.
16. All our festivals: The Cat Laughs, Roots, Rockfall, Animation, Kilkenomics, the Freshford Conker Festival. 17. Monday night sessions in John Cleere’s Bar. 18. The Watergate Theatre. Barnstorm Theatre. 19. The Farmers Market on the Mayor’s Walk. 20. The open-air cafes on Kieran Street, cool, chic and cosmopolitan.

21. Sporadic chats with Syd, the window-cleaner, on High Street. 22. The old gaslights on John’s Bridge. 23. The bells of Saint Canice’s ringing in the New Year. 24. The Village Pump and nearby St Patrick’s Graveyard with the largest outdoor collection of medieval tombstones in Ireland. 25. The Clubhouse Hotel, the oldest hotel in Kilkenny, love its old world charm and warmth.
26. The horse chestnut trees along the Castle Road in autumn. 27. Swans on the Nore. Boat trips on the Nore. 28. The smell of sanctity in the Friary and its Harry Clarke stained-glass windows (hidden Kilkenny treasures) 29 A stroll up William Street and a cappuccino in the Coffee & Book Shop. 30. The Hole in the Wall.

31. Cartoon Saloon. 32. Black Friars Bridge, its unassuming loveliness. 33. That explosion of tension when the Kilkenny hurlers run on to Croke Park on All-Ireland Sundays. 34. The Carnegie Library on John’s Quay, elegant, quiet and quaint. 35. Magdalen Castle, still and silent in Maudlin Street.
36. Talbot’s Tower, still and silent off New Street. 37. Langtons, a Kilkenny institution and legend. 38. Our many relatively new food outlets: Arán, Cakeface, Café Co-Co, La Revista Market, Louie’s, Tess’s Homestyle Baking & Deli, The Cutting Veg, The Little Green Grocer. 39. Butler House garden, a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city. 40. The hurling statue in Canal Square. Monday night home-comings when we’ve won the All-Ireland.

41. The Medieval Mile Museum. 42. The Skate Park and the new riverside walk through it. 43. St. Francis Abbey and the majestic weeping willow to its rear. 44. St John’s Priory, the Lantern of Ireland, and the lunchtime recitals during our Arts Festival. 45. Our gold and silver crafts people: James Mary Kelly, Des Byrne, Christopher Heltzel, Michael Rafter.
46. Billy Brett’s and Lowry’s hardware shops, still going strong. 47. Woodstock, Inistioge and its picturesque, postcard vistas. 48. Duiske Abbey, Jerpoint Abbey, Jerpoint Glass. 49. The Priory in Kells. 50. Castlecomer’s Discovery Park. Gowran Park.
In fairness, the county deserves 50 likes of its own. Another time perhaps...

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