Current and Past Exhibitions

Kilkenny Networks



18th July 2022 – September 2024


This exhibition, researched and curated by Dr. Jane Fenlon, brings us right back to medieval times, a time when Ireland was as intertwined with European life as it is today.

The networking circle created by the Ormonde family and benefitting the Kilkenny merchants was at the highest and wealthiest level of society of the day and was a springboard for the development of Kilkenny financially, architecturally, and culturally.

It explores the impact of such cultural proximity and aims to broaden our knowledge of the early Ormonde earls, their position in society, their courtly contacts and importance on the international stage, their patronage of the arts and their travels.

It also looks at some of the major historical figures who formed part of the Ormondes’ extensive network during the period, for example, Elizabeth I of England, Cardinal Wolsey, Anne Bolyen, Katherne Parr to mention but a few.

Of vital importance, too, through playing a part in the financial and legal affairs of the earls of Ormonde, were the Kilkenny merchants, who often had a role as merchant bankers.

Forming a civic oligarchy, they had a pivotal position in the development and enrichment of the town through engagement in trade with major British and European ports.

Admission to the Kilkenny Networks Exhibition is included in the General Admission Ticket.

Magnates and Merchants in early Modern Kilkenny

The Ros Tapestry, a tale told in thread.


6th August 2021- September 2024


The Ros Tapestry exhibition has drawn in thread the story of the Normans and their arrival in the Southeast of Ireland and the consequent development of the dynamic port of Ros is depicted in a series of fifteen large striking embroidered panels.

From the initiation of a Celtic King to Hiberno-Norman commerce, the cultural legacy of Leinster is immortalised in stitches.

Everyone can now see this amazing exhibition, which is a fantastic legacy for the country, combining as it does wonderful art, admirable craftsmanship, and a multitude of fascinating stories.

The Ros Tapestry project is the brainchild of Rev. Paul Mooney, St Mary’s Church, New Ross, inspired by the famous Bayeux Tapestry in France, who conceived the idea of creating a series of tapestries to commemorate the Norman history of New Ross and South East Ireland.

The first tapestry was completed in 2002 and to date 14 of the 15 tapestries are finished.

The final one is being stitched in Kilkenny and is nearing completion. 

Volunteers throughout the country have done all the stitching, with well over 150 stitchers contributing, working both at home and in local venues. 

Each tapestry is embroidered on to Jacobean linen twill fabric with woollen thread using a multitude of different stitches, such as ‘Long and Short’, ‘French knots’ and ‘Bullion knots’. 

It takes approximately 1 hour to stitch 1 square inch and can take anything from 3 to 7 years to complete a panel.

Admission to the Ros Tapestry Exhibition only is free of charge. Complimentary admission is available on site during Kilkenny Castle normal opening hours.

From November to February, the exhibtition may be closed during lunch time. Check on the day for  lunchtime opening arrangements.

For general queries phone 046 942 3249

For any group booking queries contact us.

An audio guide was produced by Abarta Heritage on behalf of Ros Tapestry to accompany the exhibition.

Ros Tapestry Exhibition

Moments in Time – 1870-1970

This exhibition captures ‘moments in time’ from the lives of the last five Marquesses of Ormonde, over a period of one hundred years.

The early 20th  century images were taken when the Castle was inhabited sporadically as a family home and the Butlers spent increasingly more time in England.

The entire world order changed rapidly in the first half of the twentieth century,

the displayed images record Kilkenny Castle and its family as the old order was slowly fading away.

The photographs are an intimate introduction to members of the Butler family and provide glimpses into their social world at a transient time in Irish history.

The fortunes of Kilkenny Castle ebbed and flowed during the 20th century; a state of disrepair, its contents auctioned, it stood empty and abandoned until the building was gifted to the people of Kilkenny.

Under the care of the Office of Public Works since 1969, Kilkenny Castle is once again a thriving focal centre for its local community and it attracts visitors from all over the world.

Kilkenny Castle Wallpaper Archive

Muniments Room

The wallpapers displayed in the Muniments Room have been selected from a collection of more than 250 examples of historic wallpaper donated to the Office of Public Works in 2020.
The archive spans nearly three centuries, from early manufacture in 18th-century Dublin to the closure of the Kildare Wallpaper Factory in 1980.
Most items have been retrieved from the walls of buildings around Ireland, either during conservation work or as donations from house-owners, builders or architects.
They reveal the colours and patterns which formed the background to everyday life in different periods and at different levels of society.

Ormonde Estate Maps

Kilkenny Cat Walk Trail

10 October 2021- Easter 2022

OPW is delighted to adopt and host two Kilkenny Cats on the grounds of the Castle, as part of the Kilkenny Catwalk Trail, which will officially launch on Sunday 10 October and continue until Easter 2021. 

This very special exhibition features 21 magnificent cat sculptures, which have been exquisitely decorated and are located in some of Kilkenny’s most beautiful public spaces and heritage sites. 

Visitors will be invited to download a special trail app and thus enjoy their trail adventure through town.

The Cat models are 5ft tall fibreglass resin sculptures based on ‘The Secret of Kells’ character, ‘Pangur Bán’ which was created by four-time Academy Awards®, Golden Glove®, BAFTA and Emmy nominated Kilkenny-based Animation Studio – ‘Cartoon Saloon’.

We are thrilled to announce that this very special original‘‘Pangur Bán’, which was designed by Bonnie Mier from Cartoon Saloon is now a resident of the formal Rose Garden of Kilkenny Castle for the duration. 

We are also delighted to welcome our second Cat – ‘Pangur A la’n which was decorated by Francis Tansey and will sit happily in the courtyard area.

This project is a partnership between Kilkenny Civic Trust and Kilkenny County Council and was created by The Art of Tourism who specialise in the delivery of public art trails.

Irish Craft Heroes

22 July – 6 October 2021

Kilkenny Castle Park & Castle Yard
Park Opening Hours


OPW is delighted to support Irish Craft Heroes with this major outdoor exhibition celebrating makers whose work has significant legacy, has heralded new approaches or changed the way we look at the world.

The exhibition charts the evolution of the craft and design sector in Ireland over the last 50 years and pays homage to the many makers whose work has contributed to the rich tapestry of craft and design practice in Ireland.

Produced by Design & Crafts Council Ireland with support from the Office of Public Works, Kilkenny County Council and Kilkenny Arts Festival.

Through an open call the craft community and public were invited to nominate their #IrishCraftHero; makers whose work inspires and has significantly impacted the sector over the past 50 years.

Over 600 nominations were received, and an expert committee was convened, charged with narrowing the selection to 50 makers, reviewing all nominations on criteria of skill, design, impact, innovation and originality.

The nominations demonstrated the wealth of inspirational makers working in Ireland throughout the last 50 years.

It also highlighted that so many other heroes significantly contribute to the craft community through commitment to education; leading development of disciplines through guilds, associations networks and societies; establishing innovative projects to support makers, or indeed advocating on behalf of the sector.

The Irish Craft Heroes exhibition, celebrating 50 years of Irish craft, coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Design & Crafts Council Ireland’s (DCCI) establishment in 1971. Following its launch in Kilkenny, the outdoor exhibition will tour to Dublin Castle, Belfast, Galway and Cork through to 2022.

Further information from: www.ndcg.ie/exhibitions/irish-craft-heroes