The flight from Amsterdam to Dublin was short and sweet. Well, sweet is maybe not the right word to use when it comes to flying, but anyway. I was going to travel with Jody from Ongewoon Lekker and our first stop was Kilkenny. We picked up our rental car (a really cool one I might ad) and after having repeated to ourselves the mantra ‘Drive left, drive left, drive left” we were ready to go!
Driving from Dublin to Kilkenny is not too far. Without any traffic jams taken into account it’ll take just a short hour and a half to reach this pretty little town. Our hotel for the night was the Pembroke hotel. Perfectly situated in the centre of town with all sights within walking distance. If you’re going to stay here make sure to reserve a space in the parking lot of the hotel.
As you’ve been able to read already in the piece about the Highbank Orchard that was our first stop.
From Highbank we drove into town, parked the car and walked to the hotel. We had just a bit of time left to visit the Kilkenny castle (also featured on the first photo)
We didn’t visit the castle from the inside, but the surrounding area and the garden around the castle is also worth a visit. The castle itself is from 1195.
DINER AT THE BUTCHER
Our diner was in restaurant The Butcher, which is situated in a little side street with the name …. here it comes… the Butterslip. We though the name was kind of funny and we heard the next day that ‘slip’ was a small street connecting main streets. You would ‘slip’ from one street to the next. And this particular one was called that because they used to make butter in this slip. Makes sense right?
And don’t ask me why I manage to pick a vegetarian dish when eating at a restaurant with the name ‘butcher’. My main was smoked aubergine. It sounded like a very exciting dish but looking back it might not have been the most obvious choice.
Regardless, it was delicious and we had a good time. Of course the night would not have been complete without getting a beer (a Kilkenny, what else) in one of the many local pubs. Everything was full. Which I thought was remarkable on a monday night. I’d imagine the scene would be very different when you’d go to a local pub on the Monday in the Netherlands. We didn’t stay too long as we would have a busy schedule the next day.
Our first item om the itinerary the next day would be a walking tour with local guide Pat Tynan. As it turned out Pat had forgotten to put us in his diary. The result was that someone else had to be arranged within the last minute and we ended up with just half an hour or so left for the walk. Good thing we had seen most of it anyway the day before so no harm done.
The next thing on the list was a visit to Jerpoint Abbey. This monastery is from the second half of the 12th century and is a beautiful ruin. It’s also close to Kilkenny with roughly a 20 minute drive to get there. It’s open daily from 9 to 5.30 pm. Worth a visit!
From there we drove to Stoneyford. A tiny little town where the only pub, Malzards, has passed from one generation to the next. The current owner Fred had a job at a bank when the economic crisis hit. He received a farewell bonus which he accepted with both hands. Knowing that he was going to take over the family business from his dad anyway pretty soon.
Things weren’t going all that well for the pub so Fred came up with an alternative source of income without getting rid of the pub. And that turned out to be a brilliant idea. He started a couple of years back with offering a so called “Hurling Experience”
Hurling is the local sport and bus loads of American Tourists (and other nationalities but Americans are the main crowd) come by to experience some local flavor. Fred will tell them all about the pubs history, followed by a try with the game of hurling and ending – of course – with an Irish beer in the pub. Sometimes with live music as well. The full Irish Experience!
And yes, of course we couldn’t leave the pub without also trying out hitting a hurling ball. You’re supposed to hit the ball with an oversized badminton racket. It’s a thing in Ireland. Even though I had never heard of it before!
From the pub it was literally a few meters to the other side of the street where you’ll find Knockdrinna cafe en farmhouse. We sat down here for a delicious home made lunch ending with a beautiful cheese platter for dessert. You’ll see the cheese platter also on the last picture left. Helen used to make cheese herself but that was no longer commercially viable so they now only make cheese once or twice a year. The main focus has moved to workshops cheese making.
And if you’re there, make sure to pay a visit to the cutest little mini pigs. 🙂
From Stoneyford we drove back in the direction of Kilkenny and stopped on the way at Goatsbridge Farm, a trout farm. There was no one to show us around and then it’s just a pond with splashing fish. But there are tours here with an explanation on the trout farm, the smoking process and a tasting.
ARÁN ARTISAN BAKERY
Back in Kilkenny we just had time for a quick visit to Arán. A tip we got from Rod and Julie from Highbank. Fun also because they have a special “dog corner”. With a separate dog entrance so none of the regular visitors are disturbed by the dogs.
Super fun little spot. They make fresh bread every day. From grains that grow close to Kilkenny. Worth paying a visit. It’s a little bit out side of the city center but Kilkenny is small so it won’t take you very long to get there. They close at 4 pm so make sure not to go too late.
8, The Arches, Barrack St, Kilkenny
To finish are short but intense time in Kilkenny we had an early dinner at Rive Gauche after which we jumped into the car and headed over to Dublin. But more on that in a later post!
Disclaimer: We were in Ireland by invitation of Tourism Ireland