The first place to visit on your craft tour of Kilkenny is one of Ireland’s most exciting art spaces, Kilkenny Design Centre, in the old stables of historic Kilkenny Castle. The centre has amazing collections of jewellery, knitwear, gifts and glassware from some of the best craftspeople and designers in Ireland.
When you visit make sure to leave time for lunch, as Kilkenny Design Centre is home to the award-winning Anocht restaurant.
After your visit to the Design Centre, pop into Castle Arch Pottery in the Castle Yard where Ray Power set up his own pottery business in 1993. With designs inspired by Ireland’s rich tradition of storytelling, you’ll be able to watch the beautiful pieces being made and glazed during your visit.
Also at Castle Yard, discover the National Design and Craft Gallery, a pivotal spot for artists looking to expand their repertoire, and for visitors to a number of critically acclaimed exhibitions programmes. Marvel at the ceramics, glass, textiles, jewellery and exceptional furniture on view – you’re sure to come away inspired.
Across the road in Kilkenny Castle, The Butler Gallery is a contemporary gallery space housed in the old castle kitchens where domestic and international talent is showcased, including an impressive collection of 20th century art. Entry is free and The Butler Gallery opens every day.
The world renowned Kilkenny Crystal produces only a limited number of pieces each year. The workshop, which specialises in bowls, vases, stemware and chandeliers, was founded in 1969 by Patrick Clancy, the first Irish-born crystal designer and a true master of his craft.
Each piece is cut by hand and polished with care to produce a fine finish. Look out for Kilkenny Crystal as you explore the city.
A short 20-minute spin from the city brings you to charming Thomastown, the home of family-owned Jerpoint Glass Studio. Watching the skilled glassblowers manipulate red-hot molten glass into stunning pieces of design is a mesmerising experience.
Set in a former flour mill in the picturesque village of Bennettsbridge, just 8km from Kilkenny city, craft enthusiasts recognise Nicholas Mosse’s distinctive designs from 50 paces.
At the three-floor studio and shop, you’ll learn all about how Nicholas started life as a potter in earnest at the age of seven and went on to create pottery, linen and glass that’s sought after all around the world. Relax in the Mill Café afterwards, enjoying pretty views of the River Nore.
While you’re in Bennettsbridge, pop into neighbouring Moth to a Flame to see distinctive, handmade candles including silkmoth scented, glow-globe and rock candles in production. Owner Larry is a founding member of the Made in Kilkenny group of craftspeople, who aim to foster excellence in crafts in the county.
After your soul soothing art tour of Kilkenny, you’re sure to come away inspired, with some beautiful gifts and new additions for your home. See our Kilkenny destination page for more of the unique studios and charming shops in this incredible county.