We are just back from the most amazing visit to Kilkenny city. Some of you may or may not know I am from Kilkenny, I was a little unsure about heading home to be a ‘tourist’ however I left with a new appreciation and respect for all Kilkenny has to offer!
Kernell Bar & Kitchen
We arrived in Kilkenny on Friday afternoon, where we began the weekend eating in the gorgeous Kernell bar and restaurant. This was a place I had never ate in before. Based on Vicar Street approximately a 5-10 minute walk from the High Street and the centre of Kilkenny, Kernell has free parking right behind it’s premises making it easy and accessible for those driving. Kernell is quirky with most amazing menu – not to mention the price point. I opted for the superfood salad, this was a starter but I got it as a main. It was amazing. As well as this the presentation of the food is so thought out and unusual.
Eamonn opted the burger, which was also was amazing.
Maria the owner paid us a visit, she is also the chef in Kernell who has done cooking demonstrations with TV3’s Ireland AM. Looking for brunch or dinner, this is a great spot! For more check them out here: https://www.kilkennyinn.com/kernel-bar-and-kitchen.html
Friday afternoon we visited two of Kilkenny’s many jewellers. Kilkenny has 12 independent jewellers which is pretty amazing for a small city outside Dublin & Cork. With a selection like this Kilkenny will spoil you when it comes to choice, prices and all round variety. While in Kilkenny we looked at engagement rings to team in with the idea of a romantic weekend away.
Firstly, we visited Rudolf Heltzel. Now ran by his son Chris. Rudolf (originally) from Germany founded his business here in Kilkenny city. This is unique in the fact that all the jewellery here is handmade in Ireland.
Depending on your preference and style a ring can be designed and handmade just for you.
When making your ring you can design your very own, unique to you. You can choose your diamond everything from the carat, flaws or the number or size.
We were so intrigued by the story of Rudolf Heltzel’s story, how it begun and how the jewellery is made. The unique thing about this jeweller is no one will ever have the same piece as you! http://rudolfheltzel.com/
Murphy’s Jewellers of Kilkenny
Next, we visited Murphy’s jewellers based on High Street Kilkenny. We met Martin & Stephen who gave us the grand tour who are also great grandsons of the founder Patrick (established in 1903). Murphy’s is deceiving from the front. There is a large area upstairs, with private rooms for viewing rings or just chatting with the guys there for information and pricing.
Again, Martin blew us both away with the extensive knowledge surrounding diamonds, how and where they are sourced. It’s a mind field.
The great thing about Murphy’s is the variety of price points, there are engagement rings ranging from €600 all the way to €17,000. http://murphyjewellers.ie/
Hibernian Hotel, Kilkenny
After a lovely afternoon we then checked into GORGEOUS 4 Star Hibernian Hotel. I’ve never stayed here but it literally is smack bang in the middle of everything. It’s a two-minute walk from Kilkenny Castle, surrounded by high street shops, great bars and lots of restaurants.
The decor in the Hibernian is fab, as you’ll see from the snaps below. Down to the smallest detail of the room, little things like an amazing coffee maker (we are coffee addicts) to the heated towel racks to the Orla Kiely soaps in the bathroom. There’s a lot of attention to detail. So many staff regular greeted guests which is also refreshing and really nice to see. https://www.kilkennyhibernianhotel.com/
Within the Hibernian is their own resturant known as Harpers. I’ve ate here numerous times, more so when I lived at home. I knew we were in for a treat with dinner here. From Harpers you can eat and watch the world go by. Alan took care of us that night, service was top notch and the food was just incredible! I recomend trying the steak (the most succulent steak I’ve had for a long time!)
Eamonn opted for seafood pasta and garlic bread. Picture tells a thousand words, Amazing! https://www.kilkennyhibernianhotel.com/harpers.html
We had breakfast both mornings in the hotel too and I really reccomend the fully Irish!
Saturday morning we were up bright and early to tour Kilkenny Castle, I had done this tour in the past but it was a long time ago. Eamonn being from Donegal had never done the tour so it was great for him to see. Being a Butler, our ancestors occupied Kilkenny Castle for the longest length of time I was so intrigued by the history of the family who lived in such a stunning building. We met our tour guide John Walsh at the desk. John has the most extensive knowledge about the Castle and all the members who passed through the castle throughout the years. If you do happen to visit Kilkenny Castle keep an eye out for him doing a tour. You will be blown away but the stories and knowledge he has to share about this beautiful historic castle.
Kilkenny castle’s interior is incredible too. It was renovated to showcase how Victorian times were and just how much wealth there was in the castle. To complete the visit, we had coffee in the old kitchen where meals we made for the family and guests. Before you leave the castle make sure to walk the beautiful grounds. http://www.kilkennycastle.ie/
After the tour of Kilkenny Castle, we were treated to a facial and massage in Mint, Kilkenny. Mint is a MediSpa and is set in the heart of Kilkenny city on Patrick Street. Emma looked after me with them most amazing facial using Decleor products. I got the multi vitamin glow facial, which literally left my skin glowing (and still was a couple of days post treatment).
Included in this was a back massage which was such a treat. Working night and day shifts I find it really hard to unwind but our gorgeous treatments in Mint meant we were super relaxed when we left. Eamonn got a Swedish massage. Mint also provide beauty treatments and laser hair removal. For one place they have a lot to offer. My treatment lasted 75 minutes and for €75 it’s well worth it, you get two treatments in one – a back massage and facial. The full body Swedish massage cost €70 for 60 minutes. http://www.mintkilkenny.com/
Next it was time for lunch, where we ventured into the beautiful Rinuccini. Again, having ate here in the past I knew we were in for a treat. Based opposite the castle grounds (on the medieval mile) Rinuccini is a mulit-award winning Italian restaurant. Brought to Kilkenny by an Italian himself Antonio Cavaliere and his wife Marian (Irish) the couple opened the restaurant in 1989. Now managed by their son Riccardo. Eating in Ristorante Rinuccini is not just a dining or lunch, it’s an experience and is like being in Italy in the heart of Kilkenny city. We ate during their early bird times, which work from lunchtime to early evening. Mid-week 12:00 – 14:30, weekends 12:00-15:00 and Sunday’s 12:00 – 19:00. Based on a two-course meal you pay €24 and €29 for a three course meal which is really great value. I recomend the “Cannelloni dello Chef”, the pasta is homemade in Rinuccini it’s richer but the taste is something you’ll never forget!
Eamonn opted for the hake!
Rocko kindly looked after us, he amazed us with his love and passion for both Italian food and Rinuccini. He added to our Italian experience by explaining the menu, advising and even gave us a tour of the wine cellar based in the restaurtant! As well as this explained the ‘grappa’ which we had after our meal. Grappa is a little shot used to aid digestion post a meal!
Without doubt Rocko made the experience so much more personal for us. If you are eating in there see if he is about! Rinuccini also offers some of the finest wines in Ireland, stored in their cellar people can come here to buy their favourite wine! http://www.rinuccini.com/
Next we had a tour of Smithwicks brewery. This is something definitely worth doing while on a trip to Kilkenny it’s a multisensory and interactive tour. The staff here are so lovely, taking the time to take to everyone before, during or after the tour. Our tour guide Cillian made the tour for us, again due to the wealth of knowledge and background history regarding the brewery how it started. Smithwicks is actually one of Ireland’s oldest lagers, Guinness came after!
I won’t go into too much about the tour as it’s a real treat when you do it not to mention a nice taster of Smithwicks at the end of the tour! https://www.smithwicksexperience.com/visit
To top off a really incredible weekend we ate in the stunning Foodworks restaurant. Here we met owner Maebh originally from Donegal! Foodworks has been in business in Kilkenny for 6 years. Again, based in the ideal location of Parliament Street in Kilkenny city centre Foodworks is quirky, modern and yet serves top quality food at really reasonable prices. My mum and dad ate with us that night, my mum is super picky when it comes to food. A clear plate was enough of a statement from my mum as to how good the food is in Foodworks. This is also evident with a 4.5 rating on TripAdvisor. Foodworks offers a two-course meal (great value for weekend evening dining) for €24.95 and three course for €28.95.
To start I recomend trying the beef carpaccio which is finished with potato hash, poached egg and sundried tomato dressing. This is light and refreshing perfect for an appetizer.
To the mains I recomend the seafood pizza with prawn, salmon, spinach, tomato and mozzarella. So good, a thing crispy base means you don’t feel heavy or too full afterwards, leaving room for desert!
Eamonn opted for the steak, and wow for the size of steak it’s amazing value for money. Having tried some, it was cooked to perfection, and the flavours were amazing. It’s topped with some smoked bacon, mushrooms and shallot – so good!
We will definitely be back to Foodworks to try out the rest of their menu.
There were a couple of moments throughout our visit to Kilkenny where I actually said to myself wow, it really is an incredible, romantic city. If you haven’t visited Kilkenny make 2018 the year to do so. For us the atmosphere and setting of Kilkenny really added to the whole experience, one could even say it’s the city of love!
For more visit http://visitkilkenny.ie/.