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The 2024 Bucket List Road Trip: 4 Weeks Exploring Ireland (Full Route + Itinerary)

The 2024 Bucket List Road Trip: 4 Weeks Exploring Ireland (Full Route + Itinerary)

Day 4 (Carlow & Kilkenny) – One of the best views on our Ireland road trip itinerary, historic walks, castles

Day 4 of our Ireland road trip takes us from Wicklow to Carlow and then on to Kilkenny.

It’s going to be a busy couple of days, but it’ll all be worth it.

1 – Huntington Castle and Gardens

// Redcross to Huntington Castle – 50-minute drive (arrive for 10:00) //

Huntington Castle & Gardens,

Photo via Failte Ireland

Our first stop of day 4 takes us to Clonegal in County Carlow to check out Huntington Castle and its extensive gardens.

You’ll be driving quite a bit today, so this will be a nice way to get you out of the car for an hour or so and into nature.

This 17th century house is a treasure trove of historical architecture and was originally built as a defensive garrison.

If you fancy checking out the castle itself, you can do a guided tour.

I’m going to recommend that you tip into the gardens. Here, you’ll be able to check out French limes trees, ornamental lawns a fish pond and lots more.

Only visiting for a week? Check out our 7 day Ireland itinerary.

2 – The Nine Stones

// Huntington Castle to the Nine Stones Viewing Point – 25-minute drive (arrive for 11:30) //

nine stones viewing point

Photo by Suzanne Clarke

Our second stop of the day takes us to Carlow for one of the best views in Ireland.

The Nine Stones Viewing Point provides an unrivaled vista of the lush, colourful Carlow countryside.

On a clear day, you’ll be able to see eight different counties (yes, 8!)

  1. Carlow
  2. Laois
  3. Kildare
  4. Wicklow
  5. Wexford
  6. Waterford
  7. Kilkenny
  8. Tipperary

On the lower side of the road, you’ll see nine small stones in the ground. According to legend, these stones are said to commemorate nine shepherds lost on Mount Leinster.

Well worth the visit.

3 – Lunch in Kilkenny 

// The Nine Stones to the Fig Tree in Kilkenny – 50-minute drive (arrive for 13:00) //

walking in kilkenny town

Photo by Brian Morrison

It’s been a long morning, so lets fuel up in the Fig Tree in Kilkenny before exploring the town.

There’s a highly recommended Full Irish and Veggie option for breakfast, along with coffee that’s ‘ethically sourced, selected and roasted’.

Fuel up, chill for a bit and grab a coffee to go.

4 – Explore the city and wrap your hands around a coffee as you ramble about the castle

// Give yourself 50 minutes in the Fig Tree and stroll to the castle for around 14:30 //

butter slip lane kilkenny

Photo by Leo Byrne via Failte Ireland

On a rain-free day, Kilkenny is an absolute joy to walk around.

The city’s narrow streets and laneways, colourful shopfronts, medieval architecture (Kilkenny is Ireland’s medieval capital), and energetic atmosphere provide the perfect entertainment for a post-lunch stroll.

Hands-down my favourite nook and cranny in the city is Butter Slip Lane (above).

It’s only a couple of minutes from where you munched down lunch and it’s like a piece of Hogsmeade from the Harry Potter series was airlifted from London and plonked down in the centre of Kilkenny.

kilkenny castle

Photo by macmillan media

A two-minute saunter from Butter Slip lane stands Kilkenny Castle, a 12th-century structure that was originally constructed of wood in 1172.

Overlooking the River Nore, the castle stood in all its wooden glory for just thirty years before it was rebuilt with stone by the Earl of Pembroke.

For those of you that fancy checking out the interior of the castle, you can do a self-guided tour for €8.

5 – The Smithwick’s Experience

// Arrive to the Smithwick’s Experience for 16:00 //

The Smithwick’s brewery was founded in Kilkenny way back in 1710 by John Smithwick, on the site of a Franciscan abbey where monks brewed ale since the 14th century.

Smithwick's Experience kilkenny

Photo by the Smwithick’s Experience

Parts of the old brewery now play host to the Smithwick’s Experience.

During the tour, you’ll learn about Ireland’s rich history of brewing and see first-hand where Smithwick’s beer was once produced.

The tour, which lasts between 45 and 60 minutes, costs €13.00 for an adult and has racked up excellent reviews online.

6 – Check into your accommodation for the night

When you finish up at the Smithwick’s, head to your accommodation and get checked in.

Here are some recommendations on where to stay in Kilkenny (these are Affiliate links):

Central hotels (prices between €100 and €200)

Central hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs, and hostels below €100

6 – Kytlers Inn (once owned by Ireland’s first condemned witch)

When you’ve chilled for a bit, head over to Kytlers Inn.

We’ve chosen Kytlers Inn for dinner based on its history and the fact that I’ve eaten here before and have fond memories of the place.

Dating back to 1263, Kytlers was first established by Dame Alice de Kytler – the first recorded person condemned for witchcraft in Ireland.

Kytler's Inn Kilkenny

Via Kytlers Inn

The daughter of a Norman banker, Alice de Kytler married four times and in the process amassed a considerable fortune.

It was shortly into her 4th marriage when her wealthy husband began showing signs of illness – it was around this time that he also changed his Will to the benefit of Alice and her son William.

Naturally, his family weren’t impressed.

They brought charges of witchcraft against Alice, claiming that she had ‘bewitched’ her husband and forced him to change his Will.

To cut a long story short, she escaped to England and dodged any unpleasantries.

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Leeann Nolan

Wednesday 15th of November 2023

Hi Keith Thank you so much for all the work you have done on The Irish Road Trip. I have used much of it to plan my 7 week trip to Ireland in 2024. It has been invaluable :)

Mick Bourke

Sunday 24th of September 2023

G’day Keith-thanks for your trip. My wife and I will be over there in late April and most of May (about a month in total before heading to Scotland for a couple of weeks). I think I’ll be using your trip (which is great (as also is the additional info at the bottom)) as the basis for ours, however, I would like to do abit more of the inland (like a figure eight of the island). Do you have any suggestions?

Keith O'Hara

Wednesday 27th of September 2023

Hey Mick,

Is there anywhere in particular you have in mind with the inland section?



MIchael Katekar

Tuesday 11th of July 2023

A big thank you for all of the time and hard work you have put into this blog. Great information. I don't think we can keep up with your pace but will certainly take up many of your suggestions.

Isabella Dennison

Sunday 26th of March 2023

Good day Keith,

Wow, what an amazing work you've done! I'm forever grateful!!! Please can you email this to me. We are planning to explore Ireland for the first time this year 2023, all the way from South Africa.

Thank you

Keith O'Hara

Monday 27th of March 2023

Thanks Isabell!

Sorry it's taken me so long to reply!

I've tried to get this converted to PDF on a number of occasions, but the result is very messy due to the volume of photos in it.

If there's any specific questions that I can help with, please fire them on and I'll do my best to answer them.


Jodie Wilson

Sunday 26th of March 2023

First retirement trip. Ireland for a month! Go big or go home. So excited to start this new chapter in our lives - and to hit the roads of Ireland. This guide is perfect - but I’d love a more readable copy if you could email it to me.

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