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Kilkenny: A Modernized Medieval Village Suffused with Charm

Kilkenny, Kilkenny, Ireland
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Walking the streets of Kilkenny felt so much like home. It's really all centered around the intersection of three streets: Patrick Street, High Street, and the Parade. The city sprawls out around it a bit of course, but all of the action happens in the clustered, comfortable downtown.

While I was visiting, the Kilkenny Arts Festival (takes place in August) filled the streets with artists, musicians, and tourists from at least seven different countries.

Enjoyable restaurants, streets with sidewalks, and shops ranging from modern cell phones and fashion to the more traditional Kilkenny Design Centre offer days' worth of enjoyment.

From High Street you can cut through to the cobbled, car-less St. Kieran's Street via the Butter Slip, a covered alley which was populated by street musicians when I went through. St. Kieran's Street is the home of the famous Kyteler's Inn, which claims lineage somewhere around 700 years old and still serves a hearty meal and a fine pint of Guinness.

I took the time to explore the castle, the castle grounds (a free-access park during the day) and just to revel in the friendliness and charm of this place, especially during the Arts festival, as I think the locals were already expecting tourists. Everyone was very friendly!

You really can't go wrong spending a few days in Kilkenny. If you're into beer, the Smithwick's Brewery is also in Kilkenny, but unfortunately I didn't have enough time to visit it on this trip. Next time!
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Culture and experiences

Kilkenny Design Centre Ltd
The week of the Kilkenny Arts Festival brought the Shakespeare Globe UK Company to the Kilkenny Design Centre at Castle Park. This year they brought "Much Ado About Nothing".

This was easily the highlight of my all-too-brief time in lovely Cill Channaigh, an astounding performance of this stalwart Shakespearean comedy. The keystones of this play are the sharp-witted and sharp-tongued Beatrice and Benedick, and the Globe company has them perfectly cast for this tour. The scene where the Prince (Jim Kitson), Claudio (Sam Phillips) and Leonato (Robert Pickavance) conspire against Benedick while the latter tries vainly to hide was a scene-stealing performance by Simon Bubb, though he had few lines to speak aloud. Likewise, the mirror scene where Hero and Margaret do the same for Beatrice was laugh-out-loud funny, capped off when Hero and Margaret dump the remainder of the laundry water off the stage onto the 'hiding' Beatrice, to the delight of the audience. All of the actors delivered their various parts with gusto and real feeling. Beyond Emma Pallant as Beatrice and Simon Bubb as Benedick, the performances by Joy Richardson as Margaret, Don Jon's man and the friar were stellar. While Chris Starkie's performance as Don Jon was a bit reserved, he finally got the chance to shine toward the second act, when he took on the part of Dogberry and walked away with every scene with a thick Scottish brogue and perfect delivery of every single absurd line that the character spouted.

Scene changes were marked by pleasant upbeat music played by the actors, guitar and accordion and horn, with Simon Bubb confidently banging on a triangle or a tambourine or other simple instrument in about the hammiest way possible, again, much to the delight of the audience.

I really can't say enough good things about this show. If you should get a chance to see it on this world tour, DO NOT MISS IT.

Hotels

Hotel Kilkenny
Very reasonable price for a modern and very comfortable hotel. Staff was helpful and always easy to find. Room was clean, nice, and fairly spacious. Breakfast, gym and bar/restaurant are available on site.

If you're on foot, this hotel is a little bit out of the way (about a 10-15 minute walk from downtown) but the walk down College Road is pleasant enough and sheltered by trees if it's showering. If it's pouring rain or very cold, you'll probably want to have a car if you're staying here.

Restaurants

Matt The Millers
Had a late lunch here of bangers & mash and a pint of Guinness. Service is very friendly, food was delicious and, as always, Irish Guinness can't be beat. Spent close to an hour here on a quiet weekday afternoon and the staff was great.
Kyteler's Inn
Service was unobtrusive and very friendly. Traditional Lamb Irish Stew was amazing, and the draft Guinness can't be beat. A bit on the expensive side, but this is definitely a tourist location, so that's to be expected.

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