4. Heritage Strategy

Dúnta22 Nol, 2020, 9:00am - 12 Már, 2021, 5:00pm

4. Heritage Strategy


4.1 Introduction

Volume 1, Chapter 9, Heritage and Culture, sets the general context for Heritage in the entire County.  Kilkenny City itself has a rich and varied built, natural and cultural heritage resource. Rivers, trees, woodlands, hedgerows, geology, landscape, plants and animals are all part of our natural heritage. Buildings and structures such as houses, shops, churches, bridges and mills, and also archaeological sites are features of our built heritage. Our cultural heritage includes aspects of heritage, such as traditions, practices, knowledge and skills, which are an expression of our culture.

This Heritage Strategy focuses on the city area as an entity in itself as part of the Plan for the City set out in Volume 2.

4.2 Natural Heritage

A number of areas in Kilkenny City have been identified as being of exceptional importance for biodiversity at a national and/or international level.  These areas are protected through national and European legislation. In addition, certain plant, animal and bird species found in the county and the City are considered rare or vulnerable and are protected by Irish law.  (See Volume 1, Chapter 9 for an overview of natural heritage.)

4.2.1 Protected habitats and species designated for nature conservation in Kilkenny City European Sites (Natura 2000) 


The EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) and EU Birds Directive (2009/147/EC) provide for the conservation and protection of breeding and resting sites for rare and threatened species, and rare habitat types in a European context considered to be most in need of conservation.  Such sites form part of an EU network of ecologically important and protected sites known as Natura 2000 sites and comprise:

Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) – these sites are selected for the conservation and protection of plant and animal species (other than birds) and habitats listed in Annex I and Annex II of the EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) respectively.

Special Protection Areas (SPAs) – these sites are selected for the conservation and protection of birds and their habitats designated under the EU Birds Directive 2009 (2009/147/EC) (first adopted in 1979) and transposed into Irish law by the Conservation of Wild Birds Regulations (SI 291 of 1985).

The River Nore flowing through Kilkenny City has been designated as a Natura 2000 site, being both a SAC and a SPA.

As set out in Chapter 1, Volume 1, the Council will ensure that an Appropriate Assessment, in accordance with Articles 6(3) and Article 6(4) is carried out in respect of any plan or project not directly connected with or necessary to the management of the site, but likely to have a significant effect on a Natura 2000 site(s), either individually or in combination with other plans or projects, in view of the site’s conservation objectives. Natural Heritage Areas within the City

Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs) and proposed Natural Heritage Areas (pNHAs) are designated under the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000 and encompass nationally important semi-natural and natural habitats, landforms and geomorphological features. There are 3 Natural Heritage Areas in the city; Newpark Marsh (00845), Loughmacask (0019114) and the Dunmore Complex (001859).  Archersgrove (002051) is located outside but adjacent to the development boundary (See Figure HS1). 

See Volume 1 Section 9.2 Natural Heritage


4.2.2 Green Infrastructure

Green Infrastructure can be defined as strategically planned and interconnected networks of green space and water capable of delivering ecosystem services and quality of life benefits.   A Habitat and Green Infrastructure Survey[1] of Kilkenny City and environs was carried out in 2010, which identified and mapped key habitats and green infrastructure, see Figure HS2.  The findings of such surveys are vital to improving our understanding of biodiversity resource in the city and environs, and will be used to inform the development management process and any future Green Infrastructure Strategy.  Significant assets exist in the City such as the Rivers Nore, Breagagh and Pococke  along with the Castle Park and the pNHA sites of the Newpark Marsh, Loughmacask and the Dunmore complex.  There is an opportunity to build on these assets and create an integrated Green Infrastructure for the City.


C4A        To identify and map green infrastructure assets and sites of local biodiversity value over the lifetime of the Plan

C4B        To develop a green infrastructure strategy integrating the existing assets and identifying new assets.

4.2.3 Woodland, Trees and Hedgerows

Woodlands and trees contribute significantly to the biodiversity and landscape character of the city and county. They are a vital part of a network of habitats, ecological ‘corridors’ and ‘stepping stones’ essential for wildlife to flourish and move between and within habitats.  They have a vital role to play in climate adaptation. They filter out noise, dust and pollutants and help minimise flooding by retaining moisture.   

See Volume 1 Section 9.2.5 Woodlands, Trees and Hedgerows


Kilkenny County Council commissioned a survey of mature trees in the City worthy of preservation[2]. This report, along with other relevant information, will inform future additions to the list of Tree Preservation Orders, see Appendix E.

A Tree Survey of St. Canice’s Campus has been undertaken as part of the background work for the masterplanning of the area (See Section St. Canice’s).


C4C     To undertake an update of the Survey of Mature Trees in the City worthy of preservation.

4.3 Built Heritage of Kilkenny City

The character of the city comes from its unique setting and layout incorporating a number of distinctive elements. Firstly, the dominant position of its great buildings – St. Canice’s Cathedral, Kilkenny Castle, St. Mary’s Cathedral, the Tholsel, St. Francis Abbey and St. Canice’s Hospital – are linked by streets of different character and type, many of which are joined together by the narrow laneways (slips). Secondly, there are buildings of different uses, architectural quality and historic backgrounds, including the historically important Shee Alms House, Rothe House, Bishops Palace, Black Abbey, Court House (Graces Castle), Talbot’s Tower, but also many examples of traditional shopfronts and of domestic housing.  The urban grain of the city is still visible, while the network of streets and laneways is complemented by the River Nore, which with its tree-lined banks and adjacent open spaces, provides an important natural element in the overall townscape character of the city. The Castle Park is a significant open space in the centre of the city used widely for recreational activities. By preserving characteristic features of the City, the Council seeks to maintain and nurture our environment and cultural heritage as part of our identity.

4.3.1 Archaeological Heritage

Archaeological heritage is comprehensively dealt with in Volume 1, Chapter 9. The City itself is rich in archaeology.  Zones of Notification of Recorded Monuments in Kilkenny City are illustrated in Figures HS3 and HS4 respectively[3].

An archaeological assessment of a site or a building in the City may be required before carrying out works. It is advisable to arrange a pre‐planning consultation with the Council before embarking on such works in this regard.

See Volume 1 Section 9.3.1 Archaeological Heritage

See section 9.3.15 of Volume 1 of the Plan for detailed Development Management Requirements on archaeology.

4.3.2 Walled Town

The Kilkenny City walls, built during the medieval period, would have historically formed a defensive line around the medieval town. Today, the walls are part‐standing and part‐buried. Town defences are considered to be monuments for the purposes of the National Monuments Acts, 1930‐2004. The Council will support the National Policy on Town Defences104 which sets out national policy for the protection, preservation and conservation of the defences of towns and cities.

4.3.3 Conservation Plans

Conservation Plans are important documents in ensuring the necessary strategies for managing significant archeological and architectural sites is undertaken.  Kilkenny County Council has been a key partner for the compilation of the conservation plans for the Kilkenny City Walls[4], Rothe House[5], St. Mary’s Church and Graveyard[6] in the City over the years.   A conservation plan is currently being compiled for St. Francis’ Abbey, Evan’s Turret, and sections of Kilkenny City walls which are located on the Abbey Quarter site.


C4D        To facilitate and support the implementation of existing (and any further) conservation plans, as resources allow.

Development Management Requirement

  • To adhere to recommendations in Conservation plans when assessing development proposals for these sites
4.3.4 Historic Graveyards

The historic graveyards of Kilkenny are an important part of the heritage of the City. They contain a wealth of architectural and archaeological features and are refuges for many species of plant and animal. Most historic graveyards are afforded legal protection through the National Monuments (Amendment) Acts or the Planning and Development Acts.

There are 12 historic graveyards in the City & Environs as follows:

  1. St. Canice’s Cathedral
  2. St. Francis Abbey
  3. St. Mauls
  4. St. Canice’s
  5. Black Abbey
  6. St. Mary’s Cathedral
  7. St. Mary’s (CoI)
  8. Capuchin Friary
  9. St. Rioch’s
  10. St. John’s (CoI)
  11. St. John’s
  12. St. Patricks

4.4 Urban Structure

Kilkenny, often referred to as the medieval capital of Ireland, offers an abundance of fascinating historical sites. The historic urban centre of Kilkenny City retains much of its medieval fabric.  Prominent buildings such as the Shee Almshouse, Rothe House and the imposing Kilkenny Castle are some of the better-known secular buildings about the streetscape, while numerous medieval religious buildings, such as St Canice’s Cathedral, the Dominican Black Abbey and St Francis’s Abbey, also survive. Buildings such as these, and other less well-known later medieval structures hidden behind Georgian and Victorian façades, are a feature of the surviving medieval streetscape.

In principle, it will be the policy of the Council to retain and enhance the essential character of the historic city, whilst assisting in its continued but controlled development, enhancement and maintenance. 

The character of Kilkenny is the result of a combination of the natural features of river and topography, the street spaces, the built fabric and the numerous landmark buildings and structures of historical and archaeological value.

The opposing poles of the central area are formed by Kilkenny Castle and St. Canice’s Cathedral.  The enclaves of these two buildings and the spaces which link them – High Street, Parliament Street and Irishtown - form the spine of the central area.

The main spine tends to run parallel to the contours while minor streets and lanes run across the contours, often forming “short cuts”.  These narrow lanes, or “slips” as they are locally known, are a particular feature of Kilkenny’s townscape.  Some are just pedestrian ways, which form short cuts across the width of particularly long city blocks and do not have frontage development.  Others act as narrow streets with buildings fronting onto them.

Within the central area, the streets are typically narrow space channels enclosed on both sides by 18th and 19th century structures. Generally, the facades are vertically proportioned and narrow fronted.  The terraces of vernacular structures are occasionally interrupted by something more ornate or large scaled, often the façade of a bank or other public institutions.  Buildings of great public importance such as the Castle, Tholsel and Courthouse, not only differ in scale and material from the vernacular structures, but are either set back or brought forward in respect of the general building line.

The historic centre has been the subject of much change with the redevelopment of some large sites within the city centre such as The Market Yard (Dunnes Stores), the Presentation School (the Market Cross Shopping Complex), the River Court Hotel off John Street and the multi-storey car park, hotel and apartments off Patrick Street, and the current Abbey Quarter site. These large developments were generally on large extensive sites in backland areas where existing uses had become redundant.  Although these are large developments, the essential townscape character of the city centre as described above is still clearly evident. 

Under the Living City Initiative, the Council will continue to engage with interested owners of buildings located within the designated areas of Kilkenny City, the main focus of which is the continued use of city centre buildings by way of refurbishment and conversions of pre-1915 building. The current Initiative runs until 31st December 2022[7].

4.4.1 Public Realm

The architectural character of a city is determined not only by the importance of individual buildings and groups of buildings but also by the quality of the spaces formed by the buildings – i.e. the footpaths, streets, squares, parks, views and vistas are all of importance, and are an integral part of the urban structure.  Public realm can be best described as the form and use of outdoor areas and spaces that are accessible to the public.  This includes many familiar types of place such as streets, squares, parks, car parks, as well as the physical and visual connections between them, and with buildings.

The public realm in Kilkenny is varied, from the grand civic space at the Parade to the many smaller and incidental spaces and the numerous streets and slipways of the medieval city. The effects of proposed developments on the quality of the adjacent public spaces and the possibilities of creating new spaces will be an important factor in assessing planning applications.   Pedestrians will be afforded priority in the use of the public realm throughout the historic city.  A number of improvements to the public realm are proposed in this Plan, see Section 2.6.18 Public Realm Improvements.  These will endeavour to reimagine public spaces to be multi-functional.

4.5 Kilkenny City ACA’s

There are nine areas within the Kilkenny City and Environs which are designated as ACAs, see Figure HS5.  A general set of policies for all ACAs within the County and City has been included in Volume 1, Section 9.3.3, Architectural Conservation Areas. 

Table 4.1: Architectural Conservation Areas in Kilkenny City

City Centre

Kilkenny Castle

Saint Canice’s

John Street 

Patrick Street

Michael Street and Wolfe Tone Street

Saint Mary’s


Talbots Inch

4.5.1 City Centre ACA

Description and historical background

The City Centre ACA encompasses the medieval core of Kilkenny, the boundaries of which follow the line of the city wall to the west and north, the river to the east and Rose Inn Street to the south (see Figure HS6).  This area is defined by the central spine of the city running along High Street and Parliament Street with the medieval slips running to the east between High Street and Kieran Street and the surviving burgage plots to the rear of properties on High Street and Parliament Street.  This part of the City contains some of the city’s most architecturally and historically significant structures including St. Francis Abbey, The Black Abbey, St. Mary’s Church, Rothe House, Shee Alms House, and the Hightown Circuit of the city walls, visual reminders of the city’s prosperity in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. The Tholsel and the Courthouse (Graces Castle) are also within this area representing major contributions from the 18th century.  Apart from these landmark buildings and structures (of which there is a high proportion in such a small area) the external built fabric of these streets dates to the 18th and 19th centuries.  Even within this however, there are small reminders of the medieval past incorporated into many of the city’s structures, particularly on High Street, and it is highly likely that there is further medieval fabric hidden from view. 

The urban vernacular of much of the City Centre is characterised by rendered and painted facades with classically proportioned wall to window ratios and the survival of the timber sash as the most common window type.  This presentation is typical of the commercial centres of most Irish towns.  One departure from this type is the east side of Parliament Street which is home to a number of redbrick four-storey over basement Georgian houses.  Adjacent to these is an important reminder of the 19th century brewing industry in the St. Francis Abbey Brewery.  The 13th century St. Francis Abbey is located south of, and proximate to the River Breagagh on the former Brewery site. This structure has survived substantially intact in spite of its location in the centre of a working brewery site for many years. The former Brewery site, now named the Abbey Quarter, is undergoing development.  

Statement of character

The City Centre ACA is characterised by its evolution during the medieval period as Hightown, containing the residences of the merchant princes, the custom house/Tholsel, the market cross and later the courthouse.  Much of the medieval street pattern survives with the main streets running along a north south central spine, having narrow slips unique to Kilkenny running downhill off the main street to the east and having long burgage plots running east-west to the rear of the properties on High Street and Parliament Street.  The area today is characterised by a sizeable collection of landmark medieval and 18th century buildings set in an 18th and 19th century commercial streetscape of two and three-storey rendered facades with classically proportioned wall to window ratios and many surviving early shop and pub fronts to ground floor.  In the north-east corner of the area, once stood a significant element of Kilkenny’s 19th century industrial heritage in the form of the St. Francis Abbey Brewery.

ACA Development Management Requirements based on assessment of special character.

  • CCACA 1: Assessment of proposals for the presentation of commercial premises will require retention of genuine early/original shopfronts/pubfronts, and the provision of high-quality contemporary design when new shopfronts/commercial fronts are proposed,
  • CCACA 2: To maintain high standard of presentation of ground and upper floors by controlling the size, number and composition of advertisements on buildings to prevent and reduce visual clutter in the ACA.  Plastic or neon signage will not be considered in the ACA.
  • CCACA 3: To protect the remaining surviving medieval street pattern and tight urban grain, particularly the burgage plots to the rear of High St. and Parliament St. limiting large scale developments which may necessitate assimilation of smaller historic building plots and retention of the existing scale of three and four storey buildings.
  • CCACA 4: To improve the visual appearance of the car parking area at the Market Yard and to ensure a high standard of architectural design for any development at Bateman Quay.
  • CCACA 5: To promote the use of natural slate on buildings in the ACA.
4.5.2 Kilkenny Castle ACA

Description and historical background

The Kilkenny Castle ACA comprises three main components – the Castle and its grounds, the public open space known as the Parade linking the castle with High Street, and the residential areas immediately adjacent to the boundary walls of the Castle Park.  See Figure HS7. 

The Castle is an impressive National Monument, not only due to its size and scale, but also its elevated location and its relationship to The Parade, the city’s most prominent civic space. The Castle itself is located in the spacious setting of the Castle Gardens and parkland, which cover an area of over 50 acres. This ACA also includes the mill race buildings located on the Castle Grounds adjacent to the River Nore, and sections of the medieval Kilkenny City Walls (Hightown Circuit).

The Parade is an impressive urban space which stretches from the Castle Grounds to High Street. It is graced by the 18th century grand four-storey over basement red brick Georgian terraces.  The 18th century also saw the introduction of the castle stable yard as an architectural set piece reflecting the classicisation of the south entrance to the Castle. 

The former bank building, an impressive stone structure, on the corner of the Parade represents the rise of the banks as an institution in the middle of the 19th century.  The Parade today remains an impressive piece of urban design. 

On the north side of the Parade is the Mayor’s Walk flanked on one side by the Rose Garden Wall and on the other by a row of trees planted in the 20th century.  There are two formal 18th century cut-stone and wrought-ironwork gateway entrances to the Mayor’s Walk, one at the Rose Inn Street end and the other at the Castle end.  These are works of considerable elegance and architectural significance and make a strong contribution to the character of the area.

The grounds of the castle are an important green space within the city providing a valuable amenity to the city dwellers and visitors alike, linking open parkland with a walk along the River Nore.  The castle grounds provide a setting which showcases the castle buildings and their inclusion in the ACA is vital for the protection of the setting of one of Kilkenny’s most visited landmarks.  Also, within the grounds of the Castle and an important element of the industrial architectural heritage of the city are the mill race buildings adjacent to the river and dating to the first half of the 18th century, possibly incorporating fabric of a pre-1650 mill complex, has its origins in a mill established here in the 13th century.

The Canal walk contributes significantly to the setting of the Castle, and is a popular area for walkers and tourists.  The retaining random rubble boundary walls of the castle grounds which flank the south side of the Canal Walk make a strong contribution to the character of the ACA.

The detached dwellings dating from the 1950s and 1960s are not of any architectural merit in their own right but their inclusion in the ACA represents a buffer zone for the castle grounds.

The Switzer’s Almshouses on the Castle Road consists of a terrace of five two-storey three bay houses with a pediment over the central house.  It is a group of significant architectural importance dating to 1803 and built by James Switzer, building contractor at the Kilkenny City Military Barracks.  An important element of the complex is the impressive classical rubble and cut-stone gateway.

Statement of Character

Kilkenny Castle ACA is characterised by the medieval Castle and its parkland setting and mill buildings, the random rubble limestone boundary walls which surround its grounds, and the Parade with its Georgian residential terrace and 18th century promenade (The Mayor’s Walk), The Canal Walk, Switzer’s Asylum and the Castle Gardens residential area.  Much of the character of the area is public open space with significant landmark buildings including the Castle, its mill buildings, a red brick Georgian terrace and promenade, the castle stable yard, Switzer’s almshouses and extensive lengths of limestone boundary walls.  There is a mix of uses, public amenity, residential and commercial.  It is important that the commercial uses on the Parade do not detract from the character of their setting.

ACA Development Management Requirements based on assessment of special character.

  • KCACA 1: To protect the historic and architectural character of the Castle and its unique setting. To request visual assessment for developments which may potentially impact on the vitas of the Castle from the surrounding areas.
  • KCACA 2: To protect the natural amenity of the Castle Park as an important recreational area and wildlife habitat.
  • KCACA 3: To protect and consolidate the structures of the Ormonde Mill and to protect their setting on the banks of the River Nore.
  • KCACA 4: To maintain high standard of presentation of ground and upper floors by controlling the size, number and composition of advertisements on buildings to prevent and reduce visual clutter in the ACA.  Plastic or neon signage will not be considered in the ACA.
  • KCACA 5: To ensure appropriate uses for the buildings on the Parade which will not detract from the character of the area, while also ensuring such uses adhere to DCHG’s Architectural Heritage Guidelines for Planning Authorities.
  • KCACA 6: To protect and retain the historic integrity of the city walls in accordance with the City Walls conservation plan.
  • KCACA 7: To protect the special low-density residential character of the Castle Gardens residential area.
  • KCACA 8: To ensure the conservation of the boundary walls surrounding the castle grounds on all sides.
4.5.3 St. Canice’s ACA

Description and historical background

St. Canice’s Cathedral, which gives its name to the city (Cill Chainnigh, Church of Canice), is the central landmark in this area which encompasses an area running from Butt’s Green in the west to the River Nore in the east and bounded to the north by a line running from the Freshford Road west to Granges Road (See Figure HS8).  The area is known as Irishtown and was historically always separated from Hightown by the River Breagagh, which was prone to flash flooding at certain times of the year, forming a natural boundary between the two.  The 13th Century St. Canice’s is still surrounded by the remnants of its close, including the 11th century round tower, the Bishop’s Palace, The Deanery, St. Canice’s library, almshouses and St. Canice’s steps.  It is a complex of buildings of enormous significance architecturally, historically and culturally to the city.  The area is characterised by narrow lanes and streets which surround the base of the mound on which the cathedral was built – Dean Street, St. Canice’s Place, Vicar Street and Troy’s Lane.  The area also includes sections of the medieval Kilkenny City Walls (Irishtown Circuit).

St. Canice’s Catholic Church is another major landmark in the area, occupying a visually prominent position on another of the five hills of Kilkenny, terminating the vista westwards along Dean Street.  It was built in 1824-47 in the Gothic style by Rev. Jacob Gorman.  The scale and the fine detailing throughout represent a quality rarely seen in churches predating Catholic Emancipation (1829), thereby indicating the religious tolerance in Kilkenny together with the relative prosperity of the local congregation.

The area is traversed by a number of small laneways enclosed by high stone walls.  There is a predominantly residential character to the area with some institutional buildings and a small number of shops along Dean Street.

In the south eastern part of the ACA, Saint Francis’ Bridge, provides the newest crossing over the River Nore. The remains of the Bull Inn, a 17th century medieval tavern which originally faced onto Saint Canice’s Place, is located near the Bridge (RMP ref KK019-026107). 

Green Street which runs east off Vicar Street towards Greens Bridge is an area of mixed uses with some vacant commercial buildings which have potential for renovation and re-use.

Statement of Character

This is the area which gives its name to the city of Kilkenny.  It is characterised by its separateness from the medieval Hightown – being located outside the walls and known as Irishtown - and is dominated by the Church of Ireland Cathedral, St. Canice’s, the current structure an impressive gothic structure dating to the 13th century.  This church is surrounded by a complex of associated buildings of great architectural and historical importance to the city. Its attendant buildings are located on a hill, the streets and laneways that surround it and which criss-cross it being another significant feature which contributes to the character of the area.  To the east of this complex is the area close to the river which includes the northern part of the 19th century brewery site, the River Breagagh separates it from the main part of the now Abbey Quarter. To the west of the Protestant Cathedral is St. Canice’s Catholic Church, an 1820s church in the gothic style with fine detailing, and a visually prominent landmark on the approach roads into the city.  Surrounding these landmark buildings, the area is predominantly residential in character.

ACA Development Management Requirements based on assessment of special character.

  • SCACA 1: To protect the historic and architectural character of St. Canice’s Cathedral and its unique setting and to protect the grouping of the Cathedral, Library, Deanery, and other buildings associated with the administration of the Cathedral. Collectively, these sites have a large zone of visual influence, therefore, all development proposals proximate to these buildings will require visual assessments. Developments which detract from the ACA will not be permitted. 
  • SCACA 2: To protect and retain the historic integrity of the city walls, in accordance with the Kilkenny City Walls Conservation Plan.
  • SCACA 3: To encourage and facilitate the sustainable adaptation and appropriate re-use of any derelict and under-utilised buildings on Green Street.
  • SCACA 4: To ensure any buildings proposed on either side of Saint Canice’s Place, leading to Saint Francis’ Bridge will not detract from the special character of the area, with all massing, scale and urban finish of new development respecting the historic built environment. 
  • SCACA 5: To ensure that development proposed between the River Breagagh and Saint Canice’s Place respects the remains of the Bull Inn Tavern and other historic built environment in the vicinity.  Such development should not detract visually from St. Francis’ Abbey.
4.5.4 John Street ACA

Description and historical background

On the east bank of the River Nore, and linked with the Hightown by John’s Bridge, was the suburb of St. John’s which occupied a roughly quadrangular area located around the axis of John St., see Figure HS9.  The area was surrounded by the St. John’s Circuit of medieval city wall of which some sections remain, and was dominated by the Augustinian Priory of St. John the Evangelist, the substantial above ground remains survive as a romantic ruin which contributes significantly to the character of the area.  These ruins wrap around the Board of First Fruits Church of St. John (1817) providing a dramatic backdrop to the later church.  The Greek Revival detailed cut limestone Evans Almshouses, to a design by William Robertson, adjacent to the Abbey are a significant landmark and, until recently have been concealed in the backlands of the area. Following extensive conservation and refurbishment by the Council, Evans Almshouse now operates as the Butler Gallery. 

John Street is essentially 19th century in character with two and three-storey rendered buildings with commercial units to ground floor.  The County Hall and its classical gateway onto John Street are a strong contribution from the eighteenth century and the Carnegie Library is a significant bijoux structure dating to the early twentieth-century and adding to the character of the riverside frontage of the area.  St. John’s Catholic Church is a major landmark on the Dublin Road, built 1900-1910 to designs by William Hague; it is an imposing Gothic Revival structure.  The graveyard further along this road is of great archaeological significance containing markers spanning several centuries and being associated with a 14th century leper hospital and a 17th century Catholic Church.  The remains of the tower house on Maudlin Street known as Magdalen Castle (post 1500) is associated with the leper hospital which had a long connection with St. John’s Priory (lepers were traditionally associated with St. Mary Magdalen - corrupted to Maudlin). 

Statement of Character

The area is predominantly 19th century commercial in character along John Street and residential along Maudlin Street, John’s Quay and the Dublin Road.  The landmark structures of the area are either well set back off the road or hidden in backland areas with significant medieval structures remaining in St. John’s Priory and Magdalen Castle.  An early 19th century Board of First Fruits church with the fine medieval ruins of St. John’s Priory as a backdrop contributes to the character of John St., while the late 18th and early 19th centuries are well represented in the Evans Almshouse structure to the rear of St. John’s Priory, and in the classical former Kilkenny College, now County Hall.  The massive Gothic Revival Catholic church on the Dublin Road and the bijoux Carnegie Library on John’s Quay are important contributions of the early twentieth century.

The buildings on John’s Quay, when viewed from the western bank of the River Nore, provide an attractive foreground to the new Butler Gallery, while John’s Bridge, which dates to 1910, is a testament to technical advances in civil engineer in the early 20th century, being one of the earliest concrete bridges in the country.  Adjacent to John’s Bridge, is the impressive Georgian structure known as the Bridge House, with its classical style doorcase and proportions, and later bowed front, adding significantly to the pleasing aesthetic of the ACA and River Nore.

ACA Development Management Requirements based on assessment of special character.

  • JSACA 1: To maintain high standard of presentation of ground and upper floors by controlling the size, number and composition of advertisements on buildings to prevent and reduce visual clutter in the ACA.  Plastic or neon signage will not be considered in the ACA.
  • JSACA 2: Assessment of proposals for the presentation of commercial premises will require retention of genuine early/original shopfronts/pub fronts, the provision of high-quality contemporary design when new shopfronts/commercial fronts are proposed.
  • JSACA 3: Where windows on upper floors of commercial premises have been replaced with uPVC or aluminium in the past there will be a requirement that these be replaced by appropriate timber windows where planning permission of any sort is being sought for the structure.
  • JSACA 4: To protect historic plot sizes along John St. Upper and Lower and to avoid amalgamation of sites for new buildings.
  • JSACA 5: To protect and retain the historic integrity of the city walls, in accordance with the Kilkenny City Walls Conservation Plan.
  • JSACA 6: To ensure any new developments to the south of Maudlin St. are sensitive in scale to the surrounding buildings and that any future re-development of the former petrol station and adjoining sites on the Dublin Road is sensitive in scale to the surrounding buildings.
  • JSACA 7: To promote the conservation of the front garden areas and railings to the houses of St. John’s Place on the Dublin Road and to ensure that proposals for accommodating residential parking which impact on these will not be permitted.
  • JSACA 8: To consider the balance of uses on John St. when dealing with change of use applications.
  • JSACA 9: To ensure there is no large-scale development which interrupts the visual pleasing skyline of the city from Dublin Road looking north west.
  • JSACA 10:  To ensure there is no large-scale development which interrupts the visual pleasing streetscape of John’s Quay
4.5.5 Patrick Street ACA

Description and historical background

St Patrick’s graveyard, immediately to the south of the medieval town, marks the site of the earliest Christian foundation in Kilkenny, even pre-dating the Church of Canice at the opposite end of the town.  In the neighbourhood of St. Patrick’s Church and stretching along Patrick St. was the borough of Donaghmore, first referred to in c.1245.  It had its own marketplace and market cross, probably located at the junction of New Street and Patrick Street and references to St. Patrick’s outer gate suggest that the settlement was enclosed.  Nothing survives of the medieval St. Patrick’s Church but the fine series of thirteenth and fourteenth-century tomb slabs preserved in the graveyard suggests it was richly patronised.  See Figure HS10 for the boundaries of this ACA. 

Patrick St. is now essentially a street of eighteenth and nineteenth-century two and three-storey houses, a mix of residential and commercial leading from the Parade to the Waterford Road through the former St. Patrick’s Gate.  The curve of the street provides a pleasant sweep into the city when entering from the south. 

Sections of the medieval city wall (Hightown Circuit) survive along Ormonde Road, most notably Talbot’s Tower, which has been conserved and is now publicly accessible. Coláiste Pobail Osraí, or Ormonde College, a Jacobean Revival model school built 1853 makes a significant contribution to this streetscape as does the former Presbyterian Church, built to designs by Charles Anderson and dating to the 1840s.

Religious and educational institutions dominate the western part of this area including St. Kieran’s College, an impressive large-scale college in a picturesque Tudor Revival style, built c.1840 and rated of National importance by the NIAH; St. Camillus’s Convent (1885-90) and St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in the Gothic Revival style dating to the last decade of the nineteenth century form a dramatic landmark on a prominent corner site.   All these sites are accessed from the College Road, a wide tree-lined avenue.

Statement of Character

Patrick Street is a mixed residential and commercial street with many good quality classical buildings.  It leads from The Parade Junction to the Waterford Road, through the former St. Patrick’s Gate.

Religious and educational institutions dominate the western section of this area.  The grounds of St. Kieran’s College, the John of God Convent and St. Patrick’s Catholic Church are each impressive buildings in their own rights.  Each of these is accessed from the College Road, which is a wide tree-lined avenue.  The area also includes sections of the medieval Kilkenny City Walls (Hightown Circuit).

ACA Development Management Requirements based on assessment of special character.

  • PSACA 1: To protect the setting of the area’s many landmark buildings including the great nineteenth-century ecclesiastical and educational buildings such as St. Patrick’s Church, St. Kieran’s College, Ormonde College, and the former Presbyterian Church.
  • PSACA 2: To enhance the character of Ormonde Road and College Road as an approach to the city centre, and respect building lines.
  • PSACA 3: To protect and retain the historic integrity of the city walls in accordance with the Kilkenny City Walls Conservation Plan (Heritage Council, 2005), particularly the impressive survivor of the medieval Hightown Circuit - Talbot’s Tower.
  • PSACA 4: To ensure any future developments along Jacob St. adhere to a formal building line and are predominantly residential in nature.
  • PSACA 5: To protect the visual relationship between Butler House, Kilkenny Design Centre and Kilkenny Castle.
  • PSACA 6: To avoid backland development which would negatively impact on the character of this area.
  • PSACA 7: To request visual assessments for proposed development where it there may be an impact of the character of the area. New development which is visually intrusive and negatively impacts on the ACA, will not be permitted.
4.5.6 Michael Street/Wolfe Tone Street ACA

Description and historical background

Located to the north of the John Street ACA and bounded by the River Nore on the west and by the Cinema site on the east side, this area is predominantly residential in nature having been developed in the late 19th century, see Figure HS11.

Michael Street is a residential street running from John Street, originally connected to Greensbridge Street, however it is now intersected by Wolfe Tone Street which extends west to meet Saint Francis’ Bridge.  The houses are two-storey rendered 1880’s terraced houses overlooking the River Nore and its Linear Park.  The gardens to the rear are long and narrow extending to meet the gardens to the rear of Wolfe Tone Street.  This is a large backland area of private green space contributing to the biodiversity of the centre of Kilkenny city.  Scoil Eoin Naofa, the only substantial public building in the area, built in the 1930, contributes to the visual appeal of both Michael Street and John’s Quay.

St. Maul’s cemetery with cut stone markers dating from the late 18th century is located along Greensbridge Street, its random rubble limestone boundary wall contributing to the character of this street.

The houses on Wolfe Tone Street are predominantly dormer style terraced houses also with long back gardens stretching to meet those to the rear of Michael Street.  The 1930’s saw-tooth roofed former shoe factory, now home to Padmore and Barnes, contributes significantly to the setting of the ACA and to its character, as does the three storey Wolfe Tone House, which incorporates large sections of the Old fever Hospital. Wolfe Tone House, still exhibits classical form and features behind recent alterations, and the much of the original building is identifiable. 

 John’s Green is a significant public open space, the limestone arches of the railway line (1865) contributing significantly to its character.  The Kilkenny County Infirmary (now vacant) is an important mid eighteenth-century structure on the corner of John’s Green and Wolfe Tone Street representing one of the earliest surviving purpose built public health institutions in the area.  Adjacent to this site on the far side of the railway tracks is the Ormonde House, 19th century almshouses in the Tudor Revival style.

John’s Quay represents a mix of Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian architecture in the heart of Kilkenny City. John’s Terrace on John’s Quay is an attractive terrace of two-storey houses dating to the late 19th century with iron railings to the small front gardens – the houses are adjacent to the Carnegie Library and front directly onto the River Nore. While further south, the streetscape is enlivened with a series of three and two storey buildings, all providing a pleasing aesthetic.

Green’s Bridge is a significant architectural landmark in the area, a five-arch rubble limestone bridge over the river built in 1766 by William Colles to designs prepared by George Smith, and are heavily influenced by the Roman Bridge at Rimini described by Andrea Palladio in his Four Books on Architecture.  It is one of a number of bridges built following the Great Flood of 1763, including Castlecomer Bridge, Thomastown Bridge, Graiguenamanagh Bridge, and Inistioge Bridge.  The bridge has finely carved limestone dressings exhibiting high quality stone masonry.  See Section 9.3.8 Bridges. 

Statement of Character

The area is predominantly residential in character with a large area of private green space to the rear of houses on Michael Street and Wolfe Tone Street.  The River Nore plays a key role in the setting of the houses on Michael Street and Green’s Bridge. The terrace of red brick houses, with its front gardens and railings, and the three and two storey buildings on John’s Quay contributes strongly to the character of the area, while John’s Green is a significant public realm space bounded by the railway arches and the boundary walls of the 18th century Infirmary building.  The setting of the ACA is enhanced by the survival of the 1930’s saw-toothed former shoe factory on Wolfe Tone Street. Michael Street terrace, dating to the early 20th century is recognised as important architectural ensemble when viewed from the newly opened up western bank of the River Nore. The Saint Francis Bridge forms a new artery through this area, and has led to the opening up of new vistas in the process and results in the nationally significant landmark Saint Canice’s Cathedral now being visible as one enters Irish town from the east side of the city. 

ACA Development Management Requirements based on assessment of special character.

  • MSACA 1: To promote the conservation of the front garden areas to the houses in John’s Terrace located on John’s Quay and to ensure that proposals for accommodating residential parking which impact on these will not be permitted.
  • MSACA 2: To ensure a high standard of architectural design to any development to the rear of Michael Street and Wolfe Tone Street, and ensure it is sensitive in scale and materials to the existing area.
  • MSACA 3: To promote the restoration and appropriate re-use of derelict or vacant buildings, particularly the 18th century Infirmary building on John’s Green.
  • MSACA 4: Any proposals for new development in the former mart site should take account of the setting of the ACA and the importance of the 1930’s former shoe factory to the setting of the ACA. (See Zoning Objective Z10) 
  • MSACA 5: Any proposals for new development along the river must acknowledge the green belt on the east bank of the River, and its visually pleasing role when viewed from the Abbey Quarter. Development here should be omitted, as the new bridge is the most prominent insertion.
  • MSACA 6: To provide for the conservation of Green’s Bridge, a protected structure of National importance, and to ensure where works are proposed that they do not impact on the bridge, either directly or indirectly.
4.5.7 St. Mary’s ACA

Description and historical background (see Figure HS12)

The area is located to the west of the walled town sharing a boundary on its east side with the City Centre ACA.  It is dominated by St. Mary’s Cathedral, which was located just outside the former St. James’s Gate.  The other important landmark is The Black Abbey, the Dominican Friary, located in the north eastern corner of the area in a low-lying area adjacent to the River Breagagh established c. 1225 by William Marshal the younger.  The area also includes the many residential streets surrounding St. Mary’s Cathedral including Parnell Street, St. James’s Green, Kickham Street, Blackmill Street, Dominic Street, Stephen Street, and extending westward to Kenny’s Well Road. 

St. Mary’s Cathedral, built 1843-57 to designs by William Deane Butler in the Early English Gothic style, is an impressive large-scale cathedral of national significance.  Built on a corner site on raised ground, it is the largest and most prominent building within the city.  The setting of the cathedral is enhanced by St. James’s Green to the west which is surrounded by 19th and 20th century terraced housing and by St. Mary’s Presbytery to the east, designed in the Tudor Revival style by William Hague and built in 1861.  The Cathedral is visible from many entry points in to the city.

The complex form and massing of the Black Abbey as it stands today attests to a period of evolution spanning eight centuries.  The present composition results from a comprehensive redevelopment programme completed under the direction of James Joseph McCarthy in the mid nineteenth century.  The Abbey is an important element in the archaeological heritage of Kilkenny.  Adjacent to it and contributing to its setting is the Dominican Priory building dating to the 1890s.

The two storey houses on the west side of Dominic Street with a combination of limestone and roughcast facades, front gardens with associated iron railings are testament to post independence construction, while the slightly later neo-Georgian Garda Station designed by the OPW and built in the 1940’s contributes to the overall character of the area.

The western side of Parnell Street contains a terrace of two bay two storey houses with stone sills, small gardens enclosed by low walls and railings with date plaque constructed in the 19th century.

The green belt south of the Breagagh is an important civic area, which should to be retained development free, this area originally had a well and a mill race running through it.

Statement of Character

This area is defined by its many residential streets of 19th and 20th century housing, with St. Mary’s Cathedral and the Black Abbey providing focal points of major architectural and archaeological interest within the area.  James’s Green is an important public green space enhancing the setting of the Cathedral and the modest terraces of houses which surround it.  The area is bounded by the River Breagagh to the north providing a further open green space along the river and surrounding the location of Kenny’s Well.  The eastern boundary of the site follows the line of the Hightown Circuit of the City Wall, while the red brick neo-Georgian Garda Station (1940-45) on Dominic Street is representative of the 20th century’s contribution to this suburb of the old city. The various single and two storey Local Authority constructed houses are representative of the city’s expansion in the 20th century. 

ACA Development Management Requirements based on assessment of special character

  • SMACA 1: To protect and enhance the setting, of St. Mary’s Cathedral and the Black Abbey, while respecting its visual prominence.
  • SMACA 2: To protect the residential character, setting and appearance of the dwellings on Parnell Street, James’s Green, Kickham Street, Dominic Street, Stephens Street, Rothe Terrace and the Kennyswell Road. The cumulative effect of removal of front garden walls and railings damages the character and appearance of these suburban streets and roads. Proposals for off street parking need to be balanced against loss of amenity. The removal of front garden walls and railings will not generally be permitted where they have a negative impact on the character of streetscapes. See Section 13.16.1 Off Street Parking for the criteria which must be met when proposals for off street parking are made within an ACA.
  • SMACA 3: To protect Kenny’s Well and its setting and adjacent open space along the River Breagagh.
  • SMACA 4: To protect and retain the historic integrity of the city walls in accordance with the Kilkenny City Walls Conservation Plan (Heritage Council, 2005).
  • SMACA 5: To protect the visual amenity of the Breagagh River and ensure any future developments adjacent to it address its riverside location.
4.5.8 Lacken ACA

Description and historical background

The Lacken ACA is located to the east of the John Street ACA and is bounded to the south and west by the River Nore, to the east by the Ring Road and to the north by the Dublin Road, see Figure HS13.  It is of importance as the setting for a dramatic entrance into the historic city from the east as the road runs along a height and the ground falls away steeply to the banks of the river.  There are impressive views over the River Nore and Kilkenny Castle as one approaches along the Dublin Road.  Hidden from view are the ruins of the Lacken Corn Mills, dating to the late 18th century, adjacent to the river.  The tower of the Elizabethan Revival St. Canice’s Hospital is visible from the Dublin Road and this extensive complex of buildings set in established grounds which run down to the river, makes a significant contribution to the character of the area.  On the north side of the Dublin Road are some early terraces of houses and substantial houses within their own grounds with mature trees which also contribute to the character of the area.

Statement of Character

The character of the area is defined by the impressive views down to the River Nore and across to Kilkenny Castle as one approaches along the Dublin Road from the east.   Important structures which contribute to the character of the area are the St. Canice’s Hospital complex and The Lacken Corn Mills.  On the northern boundary of the area along the Dublin Road are some early terraces of houses and substantial houses within their own grounds with mature trees which contribute to the character of the area, these houses, elevated on high ground, with high gabled fronts and elaborate fenestration greatly enhance the area.

ACA Development Management Requirements based on assessment of special character

  • LACA 1: To protect the setting of the River Nore and the views across to Kilkenny Castle and Kilkenny City as one approaches along the Dublin Road from the east.
  • LACA 2: To protect the industrial archaeological heritage of the Lacken Corn Mills and its setting on the banks of the River Nore.
  • LACA 3: To protect the 19th century complex of buildings associated with St. Canice’s Hospital which is of National importance.
  • LACA 4: To protect the setting, architectural form and features, including fenestration, of substantial houses in their own grounds which contain mature trees.
4.5.9 Talbotsinch ACA

Description and historical background & Statement of Character (See Figure HS14)

Talbotsinch is a unique example of residential planning. The model village was built in 1904 for Ellen Odette Desart, fourth Countess of Desart to designs prepared in a characteristic Arts and Crafts style by William Alphonsus Scott (1871-1921).  The area has remained almost exclusively residential in character and has retained its special qualities of design and craftsmanship.  The open green space in the centre surrounded by simple iron railings contributes significantly to the area’s character.

ACA Development Management Requirements based on assessment of special character.

  • TACA 1: To protect the character of Talbotsinch village as a model village.
  • TACA 2: Any proposals to convert front gardens for use as off-street parking will not be permitted.
  • TACA 3: To protect the open green space of Talbotsinch green as an important contributor to the setting of the houses and to the historic planning of the village.
  • TACA 4: To ensure that any proposals for the development of the corner site in the south eastern corner of the ACA take account and are respectful of the setting of the village and its character.

4.6 Kilkenny City Views and Prospects

There are a number of sites, areas and vantage points within the City and in the Environs, from which fine views of the City can be had, see Figure HS15. There are also vantage points within the City from which particularly good views of the City’s most important public buildings and natural landscape features may be obtained. The skyline of Kilkenny highlights the visual influence of these land mark buildings far beyond their immediate context.  Some recent developments have also opened up a number of new vistas, allowing for a greater appreciation of once concealed elements of our historic built environment.

Views include:

  1. Panoramic view of River Nore valley from Bleach Road
  2. View of St. Canice’s and St. Mary’s Cathedrals from Tullaroan Road
  3. View (north) of River Nore and Linear Park from Greensbridge
  4. View from Michael Street to Kilkenny Castle
  5. View of St. Mary’s Cathedral, Tholsel and St. Mary’s Church from No. 30-35 Michael Street
  6. View of St. Mary’s Cathedral from Kenny’s Well Road
  7. Panoramic view from Dublin Road/Windgap Hill area to River Nore and city skyline
  8. View of Castle Park, open countryside from Castle
  9. View of River Nore valley to east from Ossory Bridge
  10. View of River Nore valley to west from Ossory Bridge
  11. View of St. Mary’s from Callan Road
  12. View of Kilkenny Castle from John’s Bridge
  13. View of city from Dunningstown Road
  14. View of St. Canice’s Cathedral from the St. Francis’ Bridge
  15. View of St. Michael’s Terrace from west bank of River Nore
  16. View of St. Francis Abbey from Michael Street and St. Francis’ Bridge 
  17. View of St. Canice’s Hospital (particularly the 5-storey tower building with mansard roof) from the Dublin Road

Development Management Requirements

  • To protect views and prospects identified on Figure HS15 by requiring new development or extensions to existing development to be designed and located so as not to have a significant impact on its character.
  • To encourage street layouts in newly developed areas which create new vistas to existing and new landmarks, in particular within brownfield sites, the Breagagh Valley and the Loughmacask lands. 
  • Where the Council believes development may potentially impact significant views into and/or out of the city and environs, a visual impact assessment may be requested. Future developments will be guided by the “zone of visual influence” of these structures. 


[1] The Councils of the City and County of Kilkenny, Habitat Survey and Mapping of Kilkenny City, 2010.

[2] Fennell, A. 2007. A Survey of Mature Trees in Kilkenny City and Environs (An unpublished report for Kilkenny County Council.)

[3] See https://www.archaeology.ie/archaeological-survey-database for the most up to date information

[4] Oxford Archaeology and Heritage Council, Kilkenny City Walls Conservation Plan, 2005

[5] Ozmin, E, Sharma, B., Wait, G and Heritage Council, Rothe House, Parliament Street, County Kilkenny Conservation Plan, 2002

[6] Heritage Council, The Integrated Conservation Group, St. Mary’s Church and Graveyard Conservation Plan, 2005.

Clár ábhair


It appears, no mention anywhere in document of the presence of the 3rd Infantry Battalion of the Defence Forces and James Stephens Barracks in the document.
Notwithstanding that the Defence Forces in Kilkenny City are one of the biggest employers of young men and women in the city, county and the South East, and significant contributors to emergency...