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) //
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.
2 – The Nine Stones
// Huntington Castle to the Nine Stones Viewing Point – 25-minute drive (arrive for 11:30) //
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!)
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) //
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 //
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.
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.
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.
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.
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.