City 6. Recreation

6         Recreation

Strategic Aim: To protect and improve recreational, tourism and arts facilities for the benefit of residents and for the promotion of tourism.   

Open space performs a wide range of roles in enhancing the livability of cities, towns, rural villages and the wider countryside, including functions relating to amenity, biodiversity, education, social and community benefits, and health benefits.  Playing fields, parks, gardens and informal open spaces are not only important as a recreational resource but also provide valuable green areas for wildlife corridors and habitats, act as buffers between different land uses, enhance visual amenity especially in developed areas and contribute to the health and quality of life of citizens.

The Councils are committed to the protection and sustainable development of the amenities of the city for recreational purposes to benefit residents of the city and to aid in the promotion of tourism.  The Councils will use their powers under the Planning & Development Acts to ensure that adequate recreational open space and facilities are provided for all groups of the population at a convenient distance from their homes and places of work.

Residents of, and visitors to, Kilkenny City benefit from a rich natural heritage, including its rivers valleys, wetlands, woodlands and uplands.  These natural heritage components plus open spaces and playing fields form part of the interconnected networks of Green Infrastructure in the city. 

6.1       Provision of Public Open Space & Recreational Facilities

The Councils will endeavour to make provision for a hierarchy of parks, open spaces and recreation areas within the city so that the population can participate in a wide range of active and passive recreational pursuits within easy reach of their homes and places of work.

The Councils, with the assistance of the Social Economic Committee, agencies and sporting organisations in Kilkenny, will seek to:

  • Increase levels of local participation, improve access and promote the development of opportunities for all groups to become involved in sports and recreation, in conjunction with Kilkenny Recreation and Sports Partnership (  This is particularly relevant in the case of low participation groups such as disadvantaged groups, older people, girls and women, people with disabilities, unemployed people and those who live in disadvantaged communities or areas lacking amenity infrastructure.
  • Encourage where appropriate better use of existing facilities and assist in the provision of new facilities.


The Council shall seek the preservation and improvement of amenities and recreational amenity facilities, and shall facilitate and provide for the extension of recreational amenities in the city where appropriate, and subject to environmental, heritage and financial considerations.

6.1.1       Protection of Open Space

The Planning Authority will not normally permit development which is not compatible with or would result in the loss of green infrastructure or land zoned for recreational or open space purposes. An exception may be considered where one or more of the following requirements are demonstrably met:

  • There is a clear excess of playing fields or open space provision within the area. This should take into account the long-term needs of the community, the type, recreational, amenity value and accessibility of such provision.
  • Alternative compensatory provision is made which is both accessible to and of equal or greater quality and benefit to the community served by the existing open space.
  • The continued use, proper maintenance and enhancement of the amenity/facility can best be achieved by the redevelopment of a small part of the site that will not adversely affect its overall sporting, recreational and/or amenity value of the facility.
  • The site is indicated for an alternative use in the development plan.

6.1.2       Hierarchy of Open Space Urban Recreation - Parks

Recreation, leisure and sport are important components of a good quality of life and have major land use implications. Adequate and accessible provision of open space, sport and recreational facilities is an important consideration in assessing the quality of life in a town or area. Recreational space is provided in parks of various sizes throughout the city – such as the Castle Park, the Nore Linear Park, and neighbourhood parks.  

Open space within the City has been categorised in a hierarchical way, ranging from Regional to district or neighbourhood to local. At a regional level examples would be the Castle Park and River Nore linear park.  Open spaces within residential areas may perform a variety of functions, from the purely aesthetic, to play areas and kick-about areas.       Regional and City Parks and Corridors

Castle Park

The Castle Park is located in the grounds of Kilkenny Castle and is about 50 acres in extent. It contains a children’s playground and is extensively used for walking, jogging and passive amenity.  It is a significant piece of green infrastructure within the City and environs. It is in state ownership and is operated by the Office of Public Works.

River Nore Linear Park

The Nore Linear Park project provides a network of footpaths and cycleways along the river in the City and Environs combined with a sequence of high quality public spaces, which is a significant recreational asset to the city.  Within the City, a walk between Talbotsinch and Ossory Bridge has been developed and upgraded to make it accessible to all users, including cyclists, people with disabilities and people using buggies.  It is also proposed to develop the walk as a loop which will require a pedestrian bridge near Talbotsinch, and also at Ossory Bridge.  A new pedestrian bridge is also proposed to link Bateman Quay with John’s quay at the Carnegie Library. 

As part of the investment secured under the Medieval Mile project, (see Section 4.4.4) the development of a great garden feature between Johns Bridge and Greensbridge is proposed which will form part of the River Nore Linear Park.  Due to the size of the project and level of expense, it will be completed in phases over a number of years; however, it is envisaged that it will be complete within the lifetime of this Plan.  The Nore Linear Park also connects with countryside riverside trails to the south, and this is the starting point of the Nore Valley Walk.

Objective: Complete the River Nore Linear Park within the lifetime of the Plan.


The Breagagh and Pococke River Corridors

The Breagagh River corridor, from the Water Barrack (westwards and southwards) is designated open space for most of its course and has the potential to be developed as a regional open space providing links from the Western Environs to the City.

Sections of the Pococke River to the east of the city centre are designated open space. There is potential to link the Pococke open space areas back to the existing residential developments and the River Nore walking route/River Nore Linear Park.

The Council will seek to establish public parks along the Pococke and Breagagh Rivers subject to resources and finances. 

The River Nore is the principal river flowing through Kilkenny City, and together with the River Breagagh and River Pococke, offer significant opportunities for recreational opportunities both water and landside, including an interconnecting network of routes for walking and cycling which also provide access for water-sports such as swimming, angling, boating, kayaking and nature trails amongst others.  Routes along the river have the potential to connect to other trails – such as walking, cycling and driving trails in the county and routes along the River Nore have been extended out of Kilkenny city to link with routes in the countryside.  The River Nore and Pococke River form part of the Natura 2000 network (see section 7.2).

The Council will promote the natural amenity potential of the River Nore, River Breagagh and Pococke River in order to facilitate the development of amenity, recreational, biodiversity and tourism benefits for the city, and will work with agencies and communities to improve access and facilities along the rivers in appropriate locations subject to the availability of resources.  

During the formulation of the Kilkenny Heritage Plan[1] the River Nore was identified, by the Kilkenny Heritage Forum, as one of the city and county’s most important heritage resources. The river encompasses built, natural and cultural heritage; is strongly identified with, and has had a very significant influence on, the life and development of the city.  The River Nore Heritage Audit[2] was undertaken as an action of the Heritage Plan.  The study provides a comprehensive mapped dataset of the built, natural and cultural heritage of the study area, and the resulting report (which is in the final stages of completion) and database is a very significant resource for community, heritage and tidy towns groups; it has the potential to inform planning and management of the area; and is a baseline against which change can be assessed[3].

Kilkenny County Council and Trail Kilkenny are working together using the findings of this study on the ‘Explore the Nore’ project to further develop, promote and protect the recreational, tourism, heritage and educational potential of the river and associated heritage.       District/Neighbourhood Parks

The Regional and City wide parks in a city the size of Kilkenny will provide the major concentrations of amenity within the city, however, the day to day recreational provision to local communities will be provided by a series of district or neighbourhood parks.

District or Neighbourhood parks have been developed at Loughboy and Newpark as part of the development of these neighbourhoods.  In the Western Environs and Loughmacask neighbourhoods, provision has also been made for neighbourhood facilities as these areas are developed.       Local Parks

There is a series of open spaces throughout the built-up areas of Kilkenny city, which provide a range of informal, passive and active recreational spaces. These can be located within housing developments or small pocket parks within the wider public realm. They can fulfill a variety of functions such as small kick-about areas or a purely aesthetic function.


Development Management Standard:

Kilkenny Local Authorities will endeavour to make existing areas of open space as user-friendly as possible. As well as seeking to ensure that new open space is well integrated to proposed development it is essential that open space has good access for pedestrians, cyclists and for persons with disabilities.

The Council shall ensure that parks in public ownership continue to be appropriately managed for the recreational and amenity use and enjoyment of residents and tourists in the city.


6.1.3       Riverside Development

Factors that will be taken into account when considering proposals affecting the rivers include:

  • Any landscape or nature, built heritage or archaeological designation for the area,
  • Any proposals to increase the extent of public access,
  • The extent of any environmental improvements to the water environment and its surroundings,
  • The nature of any recreation use proposed; and
  • Any conflict or compliance with proposals for walking or cycling routes.       Development associated with Water Sports

The Councils will normally only permit proposals for development associated with water sports adjacent to waterways where all the following criteria are met. 

  • The proposed facilities are compatible with any existing use of the water, including non-recreational uses;
  • It will not have adverse impacts on any Natura 2000 site, will not result in damage to sites of nature conservation importance or features of the archaeological and built heritage;
  • The development can be satisfactorily integrated into its landscape or townscape surroundings;
  • The development will not have an unacceptable impact on visual amenity; and
  • The development will not result in over intensification of use leading to pollution, excessive noise and nuisance.


Water sports cover a wide range of activities from tranquil uses such as angling, canoeing and rowing to powered activities such as water-skiing and powerboat uses.  The Council may require management plans for particular water areas to address the compatibility of such varying demands.


Development Management Standard:

Most development associated with water sports such as slipways, boathouses, toilet and changing facilities, parking areas and access will require planning permission, and all will require screening for Appropriate Assessment.  The Councils will require a high quality of design both in terms of layout, buildings and other structures and in the treatment of boundaries either adjacent to the road or the actual waterway.   The Councils will normally require details of landscaping and surface treatments to accompany all planning applications.

Require that development along rivers set aside land for recreation routes that could be linked to the wider network of green infrastructure, subject to environmental considerations and compliance with the Habitats Directive.


6.2       Public Rights of Way

A public right of way is a person’s right of passage along a road or path, even if the road or path is not in public ownership.  They can be created by use from time immemorial, by statute or by dedication by the full owner of the land.  The Council recognises the legal rights of all landowners and that rights of access to their lands may only be obtained with their permission where an existing right of way does not exist.  A list of existing known rights of way in the city is included in Appendix D to this plan and these are shown on Figure 7.2.  Known existing rights of way at the time of writing this Plan are listed, however this is not a comprehensive list, and further work will be carried out during the life of this plan to provide a more extensive listing.

The Council will use its powers under the Planning Acts to preserve and protect existing rights of way, to determine where public rights exist and where public rights of way should be created, and to promote their greater use in amenity areas – including access points to the River Nore, Breagagh River and Pococke River and other amenity areas of the city. 

In addition the Councils may seek to incorporate the provision of pedestrian ways as a condition of planning permission to link amenities, facilities and points of interest (any such routes shall be designed so as to prevent anti-social behaviour).  The Councils will also encourage the provision of access routes to amenity areas in co-operation with landowners and protect amenity areas from infringement by inappropriate development, and will seek to improve the provision of local parks and play spaces and extend those spaces and pathways that can usefully form green links, footways and cycle ways to connect residential areas with parks and open spaces and with each other.


Development Management Standard

The Councils will ensure that development does not impinge on public walking routes and public rights of way. 



  • The Council shall preserve and protect existing public rights of way which give access to seashore, uplands, riverbank or other places of natural beauty or recreational use.
  • To undertake a survey of existing public rights of way in the city and establish a register within the life of the Plan.

6.3       Play Policy

The Kilkenny Interagency Play Forum Play Plan 2007 to 2012[4] was developed based on the National Play Policy Ready, Steady, Play! A National Play Policy[5].    The policy advocates a child-centered approach to the development of play facilities.  The Councils will seek to maintain the quality and safety of playgrounds and play areas and to create a child-friendly and safe environment where the importance of play is recognised for a child’s development. 

A number of playgrounds have been developed in various locations throughout the city as follows – Assumption Place, Fr. McGrath Centre, Garrincreen, Newpark Close, St. Catherine’s Halting Site, Talbot’s Court and Margaret’s Field.

The Councils, in conjunction with Kilkenny Leader Partnership, will provide, maintain and manage a children’s play area in areas where it is appropriate as finance and resources permit The Councils will also require provision for children’s play or developer contributions towards providing children’s play facilities in association with new residential developments.  Within new residential developments where there is a significant family residential component the whole environment should be designed so as to permit children to play in safety.


6.4       Active Recreational Facilities 

The Councils recognise that sport is an essential component of everyday life, playing a valuable social, cultural and economic role, providing enjoyment for people, a livelihood for some, and promoting a healthy lifestyle. The Council is committed to enhancing the range and quality of sports facilities and to ensure that there is reasonable public access to sport and a network of facilities.  During the period of the 2008-2014 Development Plan the Watershed sports and leisure complex was completed.

There are a large number of recreation and sporting facilities provided throughout the city through a mix of public, private, schools, community facilities and voluntary organisations – both indoor and outdoor facilities.  Hurling is of considerable importance to the recreational and social life of the city.  Outdoor facilities include playing pitches, golf courses, pitch and putt courses, and athletic running tracks.  Some of these facilities also combine other uses – such as the walking tracks developed around playing pitches and some facilities also combine locations with indoor facilities including swimming pools, gyms and community and sports halls catering for indoor sports – such as at the Watershed.

The Councils will co-operate with local development organisations, community groups, sporting organisations and other stakeholders in the development of active recreational facilities throughout the city and to enter into joint venture arrangements where appropriate for the provision of such facilities.

Kilkenny Local Authorities are investigating the development of a multi-generational recreational area in a central urban area in Kilkenny City such as The Mayor’s Walk to enhance the existing urban space in conjunction with the Older People’s Forum, Comhairle na nÓg and the Kilkenny Access Group.


6.4.1       Protocol for the Development of Facilities

The provision of new facilities within the hierarchy may not always be preferred as it may be more appropriate to upgrade, refurbish and improve existing facilities, particularly in established areas. The following protocol will be used to ensure that development occurs in an orderly, sustainable manner, and should be considered as a sequential approach to developing or improving facilities (where existing).

  1. Bring into use a redundant or infrequently used facility.
  2. Make better/more frequent use of existing sports facilities.
  3. Improve management procedures within existing facilities.
  4. Refurbish facilities within the existing footprint.
  5. Extend existing facilities.
  6. Provide a new stand-alone facility, to be considered as a last option once options (a) to (e) have been explored.


6.4.2       Walking and Cycling

The Irish Sports Council has published an Irish Trails Strategy[6], which outlines the numerous benefits of recreational trails.  The Councils will continue to identify and promote a series of walking routes within the city and to link these to a strategic network of trails where feasible.  The Nore Linear Park links with the Nore Valley Walk which stretches out into the countryside.  The Nore Valley Walk is divided into three sections: Kilkenny to Bennettsbridge (completed), Bennettsbridge to Thomastown (under development), and Thomastown to Inistioge (completed).  Trail Kilkenny are the lead agency in the development of this walk; the Councils will continue to assist with the development of this important link between the city and countryside.

The Councils will investigate the potential of, and opportunities for, the funding of walking and cycling greenways and trails in the city, including off-road cycling routes.  The Councils will continue to support and facilitate the on-going development of walking and cycling routes and trails in the city in conjunction with agencies such as Trail Kilkenny (see and subject to resources will support the proposals as set out in the Trail Kilkenny Development & Business Plan[7]

The Councils will explore the possibility of cycle-ways in parks and recreational areas in Kilkenny and along river banks subject to environmental, heritage and economic considerations.  Any development along the rivers will be required to demonstrate that it will not have any adverse impacts on a Natura 2000 site in accordance with the requirements of the Habitats Directive.


6.5       Development Management and Recreation

6.5.1       Intensive and Major Sports Facilities

Intensive sports facilities include stadia, leisure centres, sports halls, swimming pools and other indoor and outdoor sports facilities that provide a wide range of activities as well as facilities attracting significant numbers of spectators and use outside normal sporting periods. The location of intensive sports facilities can often be contentious. They can attract large numbers of people, particularly in the evenings and at weekends. They often also generate high levels of noise, operate long and late hours, attract a large number of vehicle movements and can require large parking areas. Specific concerns may also arise where floodlighting is proposed. 

The Councils will normally permit development proposals for intensive sports facilities where all of the following criteria are met.

  • The proposal is compatible with development plan zonings.
  • There will be no detrimental impact on residential amenity.
  • It is located so as to be accessible to its catchment population and gives priority to walking, cycling and public transport and does not generate unacceptable levels of traffic.
  • It is designed so as to minimise the impact of noise and light pollution.
  • There is no significant detrimental impact on the natural environment or features of the archaeological or built heritage.
  • The proposal is of high quality design and respects and contributes to the character of its location and townscape.
  • Public access is provided.
  • Ancillary facilities are provided such as childcare facilities.


6.5.2       Noise Generating Sports

The impact of noise is an important issue in assessing proposals for activities such as motor sports.  Appropriate sites for the regular use of these sports are not easy to identify and will depend on the type of activity, the tone, level and duration of any noise generated, local topography and the amount of existing and proposed screening.  Proposals for noisy sports will only be acceptable where the likely impact can be contained and minimised by landform or woodland. Other suitable sites may include degraded land, former mineral workings or land adjacent to an existing source of noise.  In certain cases it may be considered appropriate to only grant a temporary permission to allow the impact of noise levels and any potential disturbance or nuisance to be more fully assessed.

The Councils will not normally permit development proposals for sport or recreational uses generating high levels of noise unless the following criteria are met.

  • There will be no unacceptable disturbance to local residents.
  • There will be no unacceptable disturbance to farm livestock and wildlife.
  • There will be no conflict with the enjoyment of areas used for informal recreation.
  • The ambient noise level in the area is already high and the noise likely to be produced by the new activity will not be dominant.


6.5.3       Floodlighting of Recreational Facilities

The Council will normally only permit proposals for the floodlighting of recreational facilities where the amenities of adjacent residents will not be significantly impaired and the visual amenity and character of the locality will not be adversely affected.


6.5.4       Open Space in new residential development

Applicants will be required to make provision for sports and recreational infrastructure commensurate with the needs generated by any development and the capacity of existing facilities in the area to cater for existing and future needs. 

For details of the requirements for the provision of open space within residential developments refer to Section 11.6.3.


6.5.5       Allotments

An emerging new form of land use has been the development of allotments.  Allotment gardens allow a number of people to cultivate their own vegetables in individual plots/land parcels on lands owned by another private individual or body. The individual plot/parcel can vary in size and often the plots include a shed for tools and shelter. Allotments can have a number of benefits including the promotion of healthy lifestyles, biodiversity and providing a cheaper, local and sustainable source of food. The Councils will support and facilitate the development of allotments within the City and Environs.


6.6       Tourism

Kilkenny City has much to offer as a tourist destination, in particular its rich natural, physical and cultural heritage and vibrant city life.  In addition, there are annual festivals of national and international standards. 

As with other areas of the economy, the tourism sector has experienced significant challenges in recent years. Fáilte Ireland statistics show that the numbers of visitors to Ireland has declined significantly since 2007, with the total number of overseas tourists visiting Ireland dropping from 7.7 million in 2007 to 5.9 million in 2010; however there was an increase to 6.3 million overseas visitors in 2011[8].  The South-East welcomed an estimated 685,000 overseas visitors in 2010 providing revenue of €175 million, of which 206,000 visited Kilkenny providing revenue of €30 million[9].   

In 2011, domestic tourism (that is, residents of Ireland visiting sites or going on holiday in Ireland) resulted in expenditure of over €1,822 million; the South-East attracted approximately 14% of domestic tourism[10].  Kilkenny has traditionally benefited from the domestic tourism market, particularly for short visits and this market is likely to become increasingly important[11].

The Council will support the development of sustainable tourism as an essential element in Kilkenny. This will be achieved through co-operation between Fáilte Ireland, Kilkenny Local Authorities, Kilkenny Tourism, Kilkenny Leader Partnership and neighbouring counties in the South East Region. 


6.6.1       Sustainable Tourism

Sustainable tourism provides a high quality product based on and in harmony with a high quality built and natural environment.  Adverse impacts upon local communities, built heritage, landscapes, habitats and species are minimised while the economic benefits accruing to local communities are maximised.  

Strategies for tourism cannot be developed in isolation from an overall framework for management of the built and natural environment.  Unmanaged tourism has the potential to become a significant threat to the character of the landscape and local environment.

The term Green Infrastructure is increasingly being used to describe the interconnected networks of land and water all around us that sustain environmental quality and enrich our quality of life.  This includes the nature conservation areas, parks, open space, rivers, floodplains and wetlands which surround and are threaded through the city.  These are elements that Kilkenny’s tourism is built upon and enrich the experience of the tourist to the city, which in turn has economic benefits.  Protection of the city’s natural resources is necessary to sustain economic growth.

Fáilte Ireland’s Historic Towns in Ireland[12] publication states that Sustainable Tourism development should not only increase revenue for the town’s businesses but should also deliver on conservation, environmental and social goals.

The Councils will facilitate measures to sustainably increase the volume of visitors, revenue per visitor, their average length of stay and seasonal spread; whilst protecting the built heritage and green infrastructure that form the resources on which the city’s tourist industry is based.   Kilkenny Local Authorities will support the implementation of the Kilkenny Tourism Strategic Marketing Plan for Kilkenny Tourism[13] and the Fáilte Ireland Destination South East[14]and Destination Kilkenny[15] Development Strategies.


6.6.2       The Tourism Product

Kilkenny City has a diverse range of tourist attractions which can be capitalised on to develop a strong, year-round, high quality sustainable tourism industry.

Fáilte Ireland research in 2008 found that over €2.2 billion was generated by visitors to sites of historical/cultural interest in Ireland[16].  Cultural/heritage tourism contribute 54% to total overseas tourism revenue, whilst those based on the county’s green infrastructure contribute a combined 18% of overseas revenue including hiking and walking, golf, cycling, angling and equestrian[17].  Also culture and heritage tourists tend to stay in Ireland for longer and spend more[18].  Therefore the heritage of the county has direct economic benefits for the city and county and care must be taken to manage development of these assets whilst ensuring that they are also protected and conserved. 

Visitor surveys by Fáilte Ireland in 2010 found that Kilkenny Castle attracted 192,777 visitors and was amongst the top 10 attractions in the South-East Region[19].  

The Arts is also an integral part of the cultural, tourism and economic development of the county and is discussed in more detail later in this chapter.

6.6.3       Festivals

Events such as festivals, fairs and concerts present enormous opportunities for retailers and consideration should be given to this in encouraging the development of new events and developing a programme of activities for visitors. Festivals such as Kilkenny Arts Festival, The Cat Laughs Comedy Festival, Rhythm and Roots Festival, Savour Food Festival, Celtic Festival and Kilkenomics have raised the profile of Kilkenny City as a tourism destination.  The Councils will support the development of existing festivals and support the establishment of new festivals in appropriate locations where there is a demonstrable demand and market for them, to promote increased retail tourism throughout the City.


6.6.4       Flagship Projects

The development of iconic attractions and other tourist attractions will assist in the diversification of the tourism product – including varied projects such as the Medieval Mile (as discussed in Chapter 4), the River Nore Walking Route and Rothe House. 


6.6.5       Architectural Heritage

Kilkenny city is characterised by beautifully restored historic buildings and winding slipways and is small and compact enough to explore on foot.  The attractiveness of the city centre owes much to the overall character of the City and by the fine quality of many smaller scale elements such as shopfronts, houses, slipways, stone walls and architectural details on buildings.  The city also has a number of architecturally and historically significant buildings including Kilkenny Castle, St. Canice’s Cathedral, and Rothe House.  The Councils will encourage tourism development which is based on and reflects the characteristics and distinctive elements of the City’s history, culture and environment.


6.6.6       Heritage and Green Infrastructure

Kilkenny has a rich heritage – natural, built and cultural upon which the tourism sector is built.  The green infrastructure of the city including its rivers and open spaces attract tourists, both international and domestic, to explore the city. 

The Councils recognise the significance of Kilkenny Castle and the Castle Park to the overall character and attraction of the city centre and will endeavour to work with the Office of Public Works to retain and improve the Castle’s distinctive character.

The city also benefits from the River Nore which flows through the centre of the city and provides many opportunities for amenities and activities including walking along the Nore Linear Park and for water based activities.  The Council will facilitate measures to encourage and promote activity based tourism in the city including walking, cycling and water-based activities. (See also section 7.2.2 on Green Infrastructure.)


6.6.7       Crafts and Services

The 20th century saw Kilkenny’s rise as a creative centre, and the city is home to many craft and design shops.  Kilkenny Design Centre and Workshops are a significant tourist attraction. 

The city also benefits from a bustling city centre which benefits from services such as hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, shops, theatre, galleries and cultural events.  The city also has the potential to attract conferences and their associated business.  The Councils will support measures to promote Kilkenny City and Environs as a designated conference centre in the Southeast Region. The Council will facilitate, where appropriate, the clustering of tourism products to increase linkages within and reduce leakage from, the local economy.


6.6.8       Tourist Facilities and Infrastructure

High quality, safe and well located facilities and infrastructure are essential in creating a good experience for visitors. This includes infrastructure such as walking and cycling trails, river based infrastructure for angling and river amenities, transport and signage.   Fáilte Ireland’s City Interpretation Plan[20] highlights key themes to inform the city’s interpretation for visitors and for the development and animation of the city.

The Councils will encourage and assist development and tourist bodies in the provision of adequate recreational and tourism infrastructure and to further develop tourist orientated facilities in the City and Environs such as signage, public realm upgrading, coach parking facilities and traffic management.


6.7       Arts and Cultural Development

Kilkenny City and County has an extensive, illustrious and spirited tradition within the arts.   The arts continue to be a significant ingredient in Kilkenny largely contributing to the progression of the social, cultural, creative, economic, and political future of Kilkenny.


Cultural development is seen as an integral part of the overall development of the city. The culture of a county, city or town is one of the crucial aspects which distinguish it from other counties or cities and the capacity to regenerate communities and a claim to the world’s attention and investment is very much based on the city’s cultural offerings.  Cultural development creates cultural heritage.

Kilkenny County Council’s Arts Office works to develop, co-ordinate, motivate, inspire and empower artistic activity throughout the city and county.  The office promotes the arts as a worthwhile activity for all, providing advice and support for groups and individuals and works to strengthen Kilkenny’s position as a centre of excellence for the arts and ensure a successful and prosperous arts environment. The Councils work to ensure that there is continued support in this sector, not simply for its intrinsic value, but a driver of major economic development.


6.7.1       Arts Organisations

Kilkenny’s cultural and arts organisations span a diverse breadth of disciplines and activity including Barnstorm Theatre Company, the Butler Gallery, Kilkenny Arts Festival, the National Craft Gallery, the Cat Laughs Comedy Festival, Savour Food Festival, Kilkenomics, Kilkenny Collective for Arts Talent (KCAT) inclusive Arts Centre, Young Irish Filmmakers, Devious Theatre Company and Cartoon Saloon.  All of these fulfil important roles within the arts and cultural development of the city and county and have raised its profile nationally and internationally.  The Councils are cognisant of the reality of the location market and that cities and regions are competing to attract businesses, direct investments and creative talents.  In order to succeed it is necessary to offer diversified cultural offerings and quality of life and life style.  Both of these are extremely important to society today. The support of existing organisations and creative industries is crucial and successful business and cultural activity attracts further business and complementary industry to locate and relocate to specific regions. Essentially our culture strengthens the position of the city and acts as an inspirational, enriching and enticing ambassador.


6.7.2       Arts Infrastructure

Kilkenny is served by a selection of general venue, performance and exhibition spaces, including the internationally-recognised Butler Gallery, the National Craft Gallery (Crafts Council of Ireland), the Watergate Theatre, Rothe House, St. Canice’s Cathedral city, pop up spaces and the libraries.  The Arts Strategy[21]  has identified a need for a small, flexible venue in the county to fulfil a multiplicity of roles ranging from space for community groups, dance, band rehearsal, theatre rehearsal, performance and storage facilities. 


  • To develop an arts venue within the county to fulfil a multiplicity of artistic uses.

To implement the Kilkenny Local Authorities’ Arts Strategy.

[1] Kilkenny Heritage Forum, Draft Kilkenny Heritage Plan 2007-2011

[2] Kilkenny Hertiage Forum, River Nore Heritage Audit, 2009

[5] Department of Children & Youth Affairs, Ready, Steady, Play! A National Play Policy


[10] Fáilte Ireland, Tourism Facts 2011, December 2012

[11] Fáilte Ireland, Destination Kilkenny A Strategic Plan and Work Programme 2011/2013

[13] Kilkenny Tourism Strategic Marketing Plan for Kilkenny Tourism, 2012

[14] Fáilte Ireland, Destination South East A Strategic Plan and Work Programme 2011-2013

[15] Fáilte Ireland, Destination Kilkenny A Strategic Plan and Work Programme 2011/2013

[20] Fáilte Ireland, Kilkenny City – The Experience for Visitors 15th May 2012 Workshop Outcomes

[21] Kilkenny County Council, Arts Strategy 2005-2009


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