ROBIN McKelvie spends a weekend in Kilkenny, Ireland
Check into the Ormonde (doubles from £60, www.kilkennyormonde.com), a comfortable four-star hotel in the heart of Ireland’s most impressive medieval city.
Get straight into the Kilkenny swing of things with a pint of Smithwick’s – which is brewed in the city – at Kytelers (www.kytelersinn.com), along with a hearty portion of Irish stew.
Delve into centuries of history at Kilkenny Castle (www.kilkennycastle.ie). This grand limestone edifice has been brilliantly renovated, with the highlight the large ground-floor gallery that houses a portrait of a well-kent Scot, King James VIII.
Impressively for a city of around 35,000 inhabitants Kilkenny boasts a Michelin-starred restaurant, with another in Kilkenny County. Campagne (www.campagne.ie) is a bright, modern space where the best of Kilkenny produce is given the Francophile treatment.
Pick up a map at the local tourist office, housed in a historic building, and follow the trail of Kilkenny’s ‘Medieval Mile’ from the castle to its cathedral.
Pick a pub time. The locals insist Kilkenny boasts more watering holes per capita than anywhere else in Ireland and it certainly feels like it. Almost all offer food, from sandwiches to gastro pub foodie delights.
Lonely Planet rated the Smithwick’s Experience (www.smithwicksexperience.com) one of the hottest new visitor experiences in the world in 2015. It is impressive, weaving all sorts of audiovisual trickery around the chat of an engaging guide.
It may not have a Michelin star, but Zuni (www.zuni.ie) offers superb modern Irish cuisine. It is affordable too. Maria Raftery’s specialities include elegant lamb dishes and a shoal of creative seafoods.
Kilkenny is a hurling hub. Head out to the city’s playing fields and no doubt you will see locals engaging in this entertaining, and bruising, sport.
• Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) flies to Dublin from Edinburgh, with fares from £19.98. Buses run to Kilkenny. Lonely Planet’s Ireland guide helps open up the city. For more information, www.ireland.com/en-gb