Hello there and how are we all keeping this week? I trust I find you in good health and in good spirits. And isn’t the Arts Festival fantastic? And if you’re visiting our city do please enjoy the numerous exhibitions, recitals and readings only do take care not to trip over an oboe or easel or oxymoran (Gerry Moran, even) And if ‘music be the food of the love’ why you’ll have an absolute love-fest here. So, enjoy our ‘faire citie’ as the poet Edmund Spenser referred to it.
And forgive me if I’m patronisingly friendly this week but it’s because I am trying to live up to Kilkenny’s image as the ninth friendliest city in the world. IN THE WORLD! Say it loud. Say it clear. Sing it from the mountain tops, or at least from Mount Brandon: KILKENNY IS THE NINTH FRIENDLIEST CITY IN THE WORLD. (Okay, so we tied with Ubud in Bali but we won’t go there – well I couldn’t ‘cause I haven’t a clue where it is!)
And I know all this because I read it in this paper. And if you read something in the Kilkenny People you can be damn sure it’s true (except perhaps for what you read in this column which is susceptible to error, exaggeration and the excesses of a fertile imagination) But seriously, Kilkenny IS the ninth friendliest city in the world as voted by readers of Conde Nast Traveller, a very reputable, travel publication. So, not alone is Kilkenny ‘The Medieval Capital of Ireland’, ‘The Crafts Capital of Ireland’, ‘The Marble City’ and ‘Ye Faire Citie’, we are now ‘Ye Friendlie Citie’. And at the risk of blowing my own trumpet (well it is Arts week) I claim some credit for our prestigious placing. You see when a tourist stops me for directions, not alone do I oblige with detailed instructions (they don’t call me Sat-Nav-Ger for nothing) but I also give them a brief history of our city to boot. Hell I just love telling the Yanks that the Black Abbey was over 200 years old when Columbus discovered America.
I love telling them that Kilkenny was something Dublin, the capital of our 26 counties never was and Belfast, the capital of the 6 counties never was – that Kilkenny was the capital of ALL Ireland, all 32 counties, albeit for a short period, 1642 to 1645. But it’s something I, as a Kilkenny man, am immensely proud of and it’s one of those tid-bits of information that tourists thrive on.
Indeed when I recite a few poems below in Cleere’s bar of a Monday night I always greet the tourists with a hearty Céad Míle Fáilte, and that, along with my infectious Celtic grin (see caricature above) and bit of blarney have undoubtedly helped propel Kilkenny to 9th in the Conde Nast poll. In fact I’m amazed we didn‘t make…. 8th. !
By the way, here’s that list of the top ten friendliest, and unfriendliest, cities
Friendliest cities: 1. Florianopolis, Brazil 2. Hobart, Tasmania 3. Thimpu, Bhutan 4. Queenstown, New Zealand 5. Charleston, South Carolina 6. Paro, Bhutan (tie)
6. Margaret River, Australia 8. Mandalay, Burma 9. Kilkenny, Ireland (tie) 9. Ubud, Bali 10. Chiang Mai, Thailand
Unfriendliest cities: 1. Newark, New Jersey 2. Islamabad, Pakistan 3. Oakland, California 4. Luanda, Angola 5. Kuwait City 6. Lome, Togo 7. New Haven, Connecticut 8. Detroit 9. Atlantic City, New Jersey 10. Tangier, Morocco.