European Adventures | Ireland | Kilkenny | Smithwick's, Kilkenny Castle & A Round Tower

I've been remiss in posting these photos from our trip to Europe in freaking September, so I'll be trying to work through one day's worth of photos per week from here on out. That means I should wrap up this series of travel photos in about six months (within a year of our trip!). Fingers crossed.


Because we (namely, I) didn't revel in the terrors of renting a car in Dublin city proper, with all of its strange traffic patterns and driving on the wrong side of the road, we opted instead to take a train to Kilkenny and rent a car from there. After a day spent driving around to see the Rock of Cashel and the Jameson Distillery, we spent a night in Kilkenny and had most of the next day to kill before catching the train back to Dublin.

dusk over river nore in kilkenny
Looking over the River Nore in Kilkenny.

volkswagen rental car in ireland
Saying goodbye to our little white rental. And all the bugs it accumulated in just one day of touring.

We started our day at Kilkenny Castle (yours truly has a longtime love of old stone things). Imagine our surprise when we walked in from the street and were greeted with this on one side:

kilkenny castle from the kilkenny castles gardens

And sweeping views of a never-ending green park on the other:

kilkenny castle green

We wandered the paths of the castle grounds for a while (it was a beautiful sunny day in Ireland--perfect wandering weather), and stopped and had a blaa in the front gardens. (The gardens were lovely; the blaa, unfortunately, paled in comparison to the amazing blaas we ate in Dublin).

kilkenny garden paths

view of kilkenny from the castle gardens

kilkenny castle garden fountain

From the castle, we headed to the Smithwick's Brewery, which had unfortunately *just* re-opened as a museum instead of a tour of the operating brewery. Still, who doesn't love beer museums?

cheers at the smithwicks brewery

Our bartender at the Smithwick's brewery convinced us to go to the Round Tower at St. Canice's Cathedral, which is apparently one of the few towers in Ireland open to visitors for climbing. Built in the 9th century, the tower has 121 steps.

121 steps up to the top of the round tower at st. canice's cathedral in kilkenny
Going up was one thing. Climbing down those steep ladders? That was something entirely different.

He conveniently failed to mention that these "steps" are actually "rungs on a ladder". And so started the tradition of my climbing up things in Europe that I was then afraid to climb back down.

But that's another matter, because the views were well worth it:

from the top of the round tower in kilkenny at st. canice's cathedral
Cool as a cucumber.

from the top of kilkenny's round tower at st. canice's cathedral
Gripping the handrail for dear life (but proof that I did make it all the way up!).

looking down at st. canice's from the kilkenny round tower
Looking down at St. Canice's from the top of the Round Tower.
Pro tip: Don't look down.

See the rest of our trip (or rather, what I've posted photos of so far) here.


  1. I'm so glad you're continuing this series! I'm planning a trip to Europe for September and your pictures and memories make me so excited! Plus, they're very helpful. I actually bought the LL Bean backpack you recommended on your packing post!

  2. Oh good, I'm so glad that post helped! (And I hope you like the backpack.) Where in Europe are you going??

  3. I'll be spending four days each in Ireland, Germany, Austria, and Spain. I can't wait!

  4. Oooh, I didn't realize that you hadn't finished posting your Ireland trip yet. I'm so excited, as the countdown for me is two weeks from tomorrow for my departure.

    We're renting a car at the Dublin airport after spending three nights in Dublin, so I'm hoping that will give my friends and me enough time to acclimate to Irish road customs. I've driven on the left LOTS of times before, but never in a city, so I definitely wasn't going to rent a car whilst IN dublin.

    The views from the round tower look amazing. I don't have a problem climbing, or with precipices, but imagining climbing *down* the ladder doesn't sound so good. Did you have to back down the entire way?

  5. I can't get over how green that grass is! I'm so excited that you're going to continue documenting the trip. Your photos give me some serious wanderlust!


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