17 Aug 2022

Smithwick's Experience Re-opens in Kilkenny

Kilkenny tourist attraction opens its door again after 2 years

Iconic Smithwick's Experience Kilkenny mural refreshed ahead of summer opening

The iconic Smithwick’s Experience Kilkenny mural has been refreshed with vibrant street art designed and created by Garreth Joyce PICTURE: Vicky Comerford

The fresh red paint is barely dry on the newly refurbished Smithwick's Experience door on Parliament Street, Kilkenny as the exhibition gets set to re-open to the public on Friday July 15. There is a palpable sense of excitement and anticipation as the beloved exhibition returns as one of the Marble City's favourite tourist attractions.

Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny Co Council, Councillor Pat FitzPatrick welcomes the return:

“We are delighted to see the reopening of the Smithwick’s Experience Kilkenny. This attraction will add another unique element to the tourism offering in Kilkenny City along Ireland’s Medieval Mile. It is essential to have stand out attractions to entice the domestic and international visitor and the Smithwick’s Experience achieves this. Smithwick’s is a brand with huge heritage in Kilkenny City and it is fantastic to see its continuing legacy. With the development of the former Smithwick Brewery Site at the Abbey Quarter nearby this renewed experience will be a wonderful addition to this area of Kilkenny.”

Smithwick's ale has been brewed in Ireland since 1710 and the Smithwick's brewery was an integral part of Kilkenny life and commerce for centuries before the brewery closed as a commercial enterprise in 2013.

With the reopening, guided tours will now resume at regular intervals, five days a week throughout July and August and visitors will be able to experience first hand the rich history of brewing in Kilkenny and the legacy of the Smithwick brand as one of Ireland's favourite beverages.

Monks were the first master brewers at St Francis Abbey in the 1300s but were forced to cease with the advent of Henry VII's Reformation in 1537. Then in the early 1700s, a Catholic, John Smithwick who had moved to the city, opened a brewery in partnership with a Richard Cole.

When the era's Penal Laws were eventually revoked the Smithwick family were able to assume a prominent role in Kilkenny commercial and civic life so that in 1827 the Smithwick name was placed over the door of the enterprise by Edmond Smithwick. A brewing dynasty was established and continued to thrive in Kilkenny for generations. Nine generations of Kilkenny people worked in the brewery until it ceased brewing in 2013.

The Smithwick family weren't just good businessmen, they were also philanthropic: they opened a soup kitchen during the Irish famine and were also ardent supporters of Catholic Emancipation. Smithwick's has been woven into the fabric of Kilkenny life for so long that to see the Smithwick's Experience open its gleaming red doors on Parliament St again, is like welcoming the return of a long-lost friend.

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