What’s your idea of a perfect day, or perfect weekend out in Kilkenny?
A perfect day in Kilkenny for me would involve a lot of great coffee and even greater food in between playing the part of a tourist! I would have to start with a coffee in Kafe Katz on Ormonde Street which has the perfect viewing point to enjoy some of the hustle and bustle of Patrick Street. Petra Brabcova Ryan, the owner of Katz is somebody who’s friendly and welcoming nature is indicative of the spirit of Kilkenny people in general. From there, a wander along the Parade, hopefully it’s a Thursday for the Farmers Market, and through into the Castle Park for a stroll before touring in around Kilkenny Castle. From here a wander through the Design Centre, perhaps even another coffee! That should bring us up to lunch time and it could only be a fine Italian feast in Ristorante Rinuccini. A trip out to Jerpoint Glass to the Leadbetter family for a browse through their shop and to watch the master glass blowers in action would fill the afternoon bringing us right up to retiring time in Stathams Bar and Restaurant in the Pembroke Kilkenny for some cocktails!
Who has made the greatest contribution to Kilkenny in your lifetime - and why?
Following the announcement over the Christmas break from Liz Walsh of Stonehouse Books that she will close her store it’s timely to give a nod to the traders of Kilkenny City, particularly family run businesses. It’s another important reminder to support local first.
What’s your first Kilkenny memory?
As a child coming into Kilkenny to get ‘good clothes’, be it for communions or weddings and almost always inevitably ending up in Pauls Department Store after some lunch in Ml Dores.
What’s your favourite part of the county - and why?
There are so many beautiful parts of Kilkenny County from Inistioge to Kells village. But for me, the City is the heartbeat of Kilkenny. From history, to arts and culture or fine food, it truly has something to offer everybody.
What do you think gives Kilkenny its unique identity?
Perhaps cliché to say, but it would absolutely have to be the people. I think it would almost be impossible to find a community that has such a sense of pride and love for their home place which they match in equal measures in terms of proactivity for ensuring it continues to evolve and improve, be that in tourism, business or addressing local issues.
Do you have a favourite local writer or author?
I need only look across the office to answer this one. John Masterson, our Managing Director in Purcell Masterson is also a columnist with The Sunday Independent. Kilkenny and all its wonderful offerings for both locals and visitors are a constant and prominent subject within his columns. He is also partial to delivering some insightful musings on other topics.
What’s the biggest challenge facing the county today?
The obvious one would of course have to be housing and high rents. Illegal dumping, particularly in certain parts of the city along with the lack of proper regulations and by-laws that would prevent cruelty and exploitation of animals are other challenges that need to addressed.
If you had the power to change on thing in, or about Kilkenny, what would it be?
I would instantly remove some of the brash new shop signs that popped up on our High Street over 2017. They simply detract from the City’s wonderful architecture and aesthetic particularly when they are on some iconic buildings.