5.2.5 Tourism, Creative Industries and Services

Closed22 Dec, 2020, 9:00am - 12 Mar, 2021, 5:00pm
5.2.5 Tourism, Creative Industries and Services

The Tourism industry has long since been recognised as an important economic driver for the economy of Kilkenny.  It is a Core objective of Kilkenny County Council to develop tourism and the County’s tourism offer, working with key stakeholders – public, private, community, and voluntary - to implement Kilkenny’s Statement of Tourism Strategy and work programme 2017-2022[1] as well as maintaining Kilkenny’s position as the finest Cultural and Heritage destination in Ireland.

Kilkenny is recognised as an international destination with the capacity to deliver significant growth in international visitor numbers and a substantial increase in tourism related employment in accordance with the Government’s Tourism Strategy; People, Place and Policy - Growing Tourism to 2025[2].  (See Section 5.4 Tourism).

Kilkenny has long been recognised as the centre of Ireland’s design and craft sector, and is home to the Design & Craft Council Ireland headquarters in the City and Grennan Mill Craft School in Thomastown, with centres of excellence in jewellery and ceramics at these locations.  Working closely with the Design and Craft Council of Ireland, Kilkenny County Council developed plans for the refurbishment of Session House in Thomastown as part of the school.  This proposed education facility at Sessions House represents a commitment to supporting and promoting the progression of new creative talent to employment in the creative sector.  Kilkenny’s association with craft and design can be attributed in large part to the role of the Kilkenny Design Workshops (KDW), which operated from the 1960s to the 1980s.The cross-disciplinary approach to design attracted designers from many different countries to work in a centre of excellence for product and craft design. The legacy of KDW spawned a cluster of creative industries and services, in artistic endeavours leading to the establishment of master designers in jewellery, ceramics and artisan crafts.

Kilkenny’s flourishing creative scene has led to some world-leading creative companies setting up their operations here including Cartoon Saloon (a four-time Academy Award nominated animation studio).  Cartoon Saloon have also teamed up with Canadian animators Mercury Filmworks to create Lighthouse Studios, a new animation studio in the city that has helped to transform Kilkenny into a centre of excellence in animation.

The Centre for Design (C4D) is funded under the Enterprise Ireland Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF), C4D is a design innovation hub that helps companies to conceptualise, innovate, build and test new products and services through critical problem-solving methodologies and design thinking concepts. The C4D partners are the Institute of Technology Carlow (ITC), Kilkenny County Council (KCC), The Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI), the Kilkenny Industrial Development Company (KIDCo) and the Kilkenny LEADER Partnership (KLP).


5C        To continue to develop high quality tourism, leisure and complementary activities for the City & County with the key stakeholders enhancing the position of Kilkenny as a Hero site within the Irelands Ancient East branding. Kilkenny County

Outside the City, the tourism sector continues to be a crucial element of community and economic development. Recent developments, which shall be encouraged and supported include:

  • Callan - Cultural Hub: Proposed Capital Project, also referred to as the Friary Conservation Plan, which is the subject of a funding application under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund. Funding is sought to support the development of the Friary Complex as a cultural and creative hub with a modern library service at its centre.  
  • Castlecomer – The continued expansion of the Discovery Park including the town’s mining heritage. The opening of the Avalon Hotel during 2019 was a tremendous boost to the town’s tourism offering.
  • Graiguenamanagh - The continued development of The Hub as a focus for outdoor recreation and camping infrastructure, developed as a base for exploring the great outdoors
  • Thomastown – the continued development of Mount Juliet as a unique luxury destination, and the recent addition of Mountain View in Ballyhale offer accommodation for visitors to the area. The school of jewellery and ceramics building on the town’s design and craft reputation.
  • Inistioge and Woodstockcapitalising on Woodstock’s natural assets to maximise its contribution to the tourism product. The Council has and will continue to engage with Coillte which owns 1,000 acres of commercial forestry in the Woodstock estate.
  • Kilkenny Greenway as part of the South East Greenway in South of the county. Mount Juliet Estate

Mount Juliet Estate and the adjoining Ballylynch Stud are situated in the Nore Valley to the west of Thomastown.  Mount Juliet is generally recognised as a high-quality tourism and sporting resource of significant local, national, and international importance.  It is also a significant built, natural and cultural heritage resource.  The golf course and stud are recognised on an international scale, with the stud in operation since 1914 and the golf course has played host to international competitions.  The estate and stud are a significant source of direct and indirect employment in the county.  An action plan was developed for the estate in 2000 to set out the guiding principles and overall future direction for the development of the estate.  The objectives of the action plan have been largely delivered over the intervening period.  The provisions of the action plan have been incorporated into this plan which now aims to facilitate appropriate development in a manner which respects the sensitive nature of the landscape, heritage and environmental attributes of the estate and seeks to ensure their protection and enhancement, see Figure 5.1.   

Mount Juliet Development Management Requirements

  • To protect and enhance the Protected Structure, its curtilage and attendant grounds and woodlands.  To protect and enhance existing landscape, ecological, water quality and other environmental amenities and in particular to provide for the protection of the River Nore (designated cSAC and SPA).
  • To provide for the maintenance and enhancement of tourism, sporting, leisure and related uses, and of existing agricultural and equestrian lands and buildings in an area of sensitive landscape.  
  • To protect the residential amenity of existing dwellings.

Permissible uses/ developments:

  • Equestrian, sport and leisure facilities.
  • Stores, machinery storage/repair & office uses related to maintenance of estate lands.

Uses open for consideration:

  • Temporary tented or other temporary enclosures.


Table 5.1: Mount Juliet Protected views




From Mount Juliet House to Ballylinch Stud


Approach from Thomastown gate towards Mount Juliet House and the Inch


River valley from White bridge


River valley from Ballylinch bridge

Table 5.2: Mount Juliet Site-specific Development Management Requirements

Map Ref. 



To protect and enhance Mount Juliet House (protected structure), its curtilage and attendant grounds and allow for its extension as appropriate.


To protect and enhance existing archaeological features:

2a Ecclesiastical Remains

2b Castle and Mansion

2c Enclosure

2d Enclosure


To protect and enhance the existing south western entrance to the estate, gate lodges, boundary walls and road frontage.


To protect and enhance the existing Thomastown entrance to the estate, gate lodges, boundary walls and road frontage.


To provide for the enhancement of the cricket pavilion facilities.

6 & 7

To provide for the enhancement and development of tourism, leisure and recreational facilities and related activities at appropriate locations within the estate, including the Hunters Yard and the Walled Garden, without detracting from the estate’s built and natural heritage.


To provide for the development of additional lodges adjacent to the existing Rose Garden lodges associated with the estate’s tourism, leisure and recreational functions without detracting from the estate’s landscape character and built and natural heritage.


Provide for an extension to the existing golf maintenance facility to include changing area and other associated staff uses. 


Provide for the development of 3 no. detached houses associated with the estate’s sporting and recreational functions. 


Provide for a house at the maintenance facility building associated with the estate’s sporting and recreational facilities.



Provide for estate maintenance/administration area at an appropriate location to replace existing maintenance facility building for the on-going management of the estate.


Provide for the development of 9 no. houses at the Kennels site similar to those at the Gallops subject to the capacity of the estate to absorb development without detracting from the estate’s landscape character and built and natural heritage context.



[1] Kilkenny County Council, Statement of Tourism Strategy and work programme 2017-2022

[2] Government of Ireland, People, Place and Policy - Growing Tourism to 2025, 2019



Environmentally friendly tourism
The Draft plan should promote sustainable tourism in a way that directly has a positive impact on the environment and accelerates Kilkenny's move to a circular economy.  The Plan should...