Photography by Dennis Cieri / Written by Lorena Caro
Kilkenny was formerly a thriving merchant town, so it is no wonder that this quaint town is currently a primary shopping destination in Ireland. From notorious retail chains, and national franchises, to small boutiques and local businesses, this place has a wide range of items to suit your needs.
Kilkenny is very compact, which makes it easier to navigate from one spot to the next without getting too tired. If you are looking to avoid large crowds and the waves of tourism, it is best to visit Kilkenny sometime in the early spring.
We visited the city in the middle of May, which was especially great because the narrow streets were easier to navigate. There are also less small children and large gatherings since school is still in session during this season.
The main shopping street is High Street, which is full of interesting things to see and do at every corner. Walk through the medieval city and take in the remnants of a historical era past. You’ll be sure to fall in love with the rustic architecture which features townhouses, thatched cottages and limestone footpaths.
Larger shopping locations include High Street Mall and Market Cross Shopping Center. The latter features over 40 stores including popular brands such as Penneys (also known as Primark), GameStop, and L’Occitane.
In addition to these two malls, there are many restaurants and cafes to thoroughly explore or even just grab a quick bite. From international restaurant chains such as Subways to intimate pub restaurants such as The PlayWright, you can find a wide range of things to try around this part of Kilkenny.
Walk down Butter Slip Lane leading towards Kieran street, and you’ll find Petronella Restaurant-Cafe and the Base Camp Outdoor Store. Although there are various tiny lanes hidden amongst the city, this popular side street remains a tourist favorite for its arched entry and beautiful stone steps. This lovely landmark dates back to the early 17th Century and once hosted a variety of butter vendors on market days. Once you get through to Kieran street, you’ll find local boutiques such as Sally West, Beri Boutique, Serendipity, Rollercoaster Records Music Store, and Dunnes.
If this is your thing, you can also visit a local gift shop to have a look at all the keepsakes and specialty items sold exclusively in select stores throughout Kilkenny. From locally printed books and postcards to crafted porcelain figures, you’ll be sure to find a small piece of Kilkenny to bring back home among all the artisanal goods.
Kilkenny is also known as the ‘craft capital of Ireland’ so if you find yourself in this town, take the time to visit the Kilkenny Castle Design Centre, which is part of Kilkenny’s Castle Yard. It is conveniently located at a five minute walk from the Tholsel. It was created as a way to inspire, support and demonstrate how design could incite positive changes and lead to economic success.
This store offers a variety of eye pleasing products that are usually handmade by skilled craftsmen who will often explain their manufacturing techniques and trade “secrets” to visitors. There’s also a small cafe restaurant where visitors can enjoy a traditional meal or even a quick cup of tea.