Kilkenny is located on the River Nore. It is the only city in Ireland which is not a county borough, and is the republic’s only inland city. It is famous for its many medieval buildings and night-life.

Kilkenny has been referred to as the Marble City for hundreds of years. However, the black stone with decorative white fossils that forms the backbone of many of Kilkenny’s fine buildings and serves as pavement in the major streets is actually polished limestone. It has been quarried from around the city for centuries.


Kilkenny Castle and Saint Canice’s Cathedral dominate the city. The latter is named for Saint Canice, who also gave his name to the town (Cill Chainningh is Irish for “Church of Canice”). The Statute of Kilkenny (1366) got its name from the then Irish Parliament in Kilkenny.

Brewing History in Kilkenny

The town has a history of brewing and was home to St. Francis Abbey Brewery until 2013.  Messers Cole and Smithwick founded the brewery in the early 18th Century. Since the 1960’s, the Guiness Ireland group has owned the brewery. At the beginning of the 21st Century, Guinness merged with Grand Metropolitan plc to form Diageo, the world’s largest alcoholic beverage business. The brewery is now part of Diageo Global Supply.

Smithwick’s Ale now forms only a small percentage of production there. Another product is ale Kilkenny, a close relation of the ale Smithwicks. Kilkenny ale was originally created specifically for the export market to help those who found the word “Smithwicks” linguistically challenging (the “w” is silent). It has since carved out a place for itself in the Irish beer market. Some 80% of beer produced until 2013 at the brewery was Budweiser, a brand not owned by Diageo, but produced under licence.


Kilkenny has a successful hurling team, known as ‘THE CATS’. The Kilkenny team has won more All-Ireland championships in hurling than any other team.