Inside information & tips on what to see, do, eat, & special places to stay; Ireland, London & beyond!
Vibrant Ireland

All posts in Kilkenny Arts Festival

stay in a stone cottage in Kilkenny IrelandFancy staying in a stone cottage on your Kilkenny visit?


Enjoy a charming slice of country life during Kilkenny Arts Festival, or beyond!

You can rent the cottage by the day, week, or longer. I know the person renting it out, and though I don’t usually post places to stay if I’ve not been there myself, when I saw she was renting it I said I’d let you all know about it;  it seems a fab place to stay if you’re visiting Kilkenny during the Arts Festival–it’s located just a short drive from Kilkenny City. The cottage is located on the grounds of her home, too, so you won’t be totally isolated, but you will of course have your privacy.

Here are the cottage details:

Newly refurbed stone cottage
Located 8km from Kilkenny down a country lane, bordered on either side by Stud farms
Private Garden and secure parking

Studio Apartment with Mezzanine double bedroom
Ground floor with living area, solid fuel stove flat screen TV
Small kitchen, opening into a dining area for four people
New large shower and WC


Arts Week / August Rates

Daily rental €75 per night
Weekly rental €400
Monthly rental €1000

Kilkenny cottage you can rentThe stone cottage is an ideal place to retreat and get away from it all and still be close to beautiful city of Kilkenny. It’d also suit a mature student moving to Kilkenny for NUI Maynooth (St. Kierans College Campus) on a September start. If right tennant found a special term time rate could be arranged for the academic year.

If you are interested in staying in the cottage, email Anne Marie:  info (AT)

Marilyn Lerner will have her colourful artworks at Butler Gallery.

Marilyn Lerner will have her colourful artworks at Butler Gallery. Pic via

It’s one of the most exciting times to be in Kilkenny City!



Kilkenny Arts Festival 2014! 

8 -17 August will bring 10 days packed with things to go to. The festival is full of music, art, theatre & more! I’ve picked 7 vibrant events you may like; have a gander!

In no particular order, here we go:


1. Marilyn Lerner’s Circle In The Square

Butler Gallery, 10-5.30 everyday

The Butler Gallery is delighted to host Ireland’s first exhibition of the New York-based painter Marilyn Lerner.

Lerner is an extraordinary artist who has been committed to making abstract geometric paintings for over forty years. Her oil paintings are painted on wooden panels with bevelled edges so that they almost float off the wall. They are highly skillful compositions that articulate her experiences through form, pattern and colour. Geometric abstraction is present among many cultures throughout history, both as decorative motifs and as art pieces themselves. Lerner has travelled extensively through North Africa and South East Asia and these trips have informed her work and made the language of geometry the focus of her work.

2. Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino

12 Aug, 9.30 pm; Set Theatre. Tickets €20

This should be a fun night! The Set is a lovely venue, and there’s room downstairs for dancing. Each year at the Arts Festival groovy bands play here and the floor fills with dancing. Such a great vibe, don’t miss it!

In the Guardian’s Best Albums of 2013: Robin Denselow’s world music albums of the year, he said of them:

One of the most exciting bands at WOMAD this summer, Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino are from southeast Italy and play pizzica, a style said to cure spider bites, thanks to the pounding, hypnotic effect of the insistent frame drum, matched against fiddle, bagpipes, accordion and five-part harmonies.

[youtube_sc url=”” title=”Canzoniere%20Grecanico%20Salentino%20″]

3. Kate Tempest

9 Aug, 10.30 pm; Set Theatre. Tickets €20

One of the most exciting talents in the UK, a combustible rapper and a prolific performance poet, playwright and (soon) novelist whose work mines the drama in ordinary lives,” the Kilkenny Arts blurb tells us. This looks to be another good night at the Set. Have a watch of one of her videos below:

Read more about Kate Tempest, along with the link to book, here. 

[youtube_sc url=”″ title=”Kate%20Tempest,%20the%20Beigenes”]


4. Resonance

National Craft Gallery, open every day; times vary so check their website.

Combining glasswork and sound, Resonance is intriguing! Without having seen/heard it, it’s probably best I just share the info from the Kilkenny Arts site.

Resonance brings together two artists, Karen Donnellan and Róisín de Buitléar, whose innovative work explores the sonic qualities of glass.

Róisín de Buitléar’s Irish Incantation/Ortha is a series of glass sound objects made to create an Irish incantation, a harmony of voice, object and Irish soul. When played by different hands and breaths of phrasing and rhythm, they become an evolving conversation. Liam O’Maonlai will perform with the sound objects in the Set Theatre on Friday 8 August.

Karen Donnellan’s work is concerned with the intangible essence of things. Informed by her interest in the metaphysical, her work draws on a wide range of media including blown and cast glass, woodturning, sound, light and film. Working with composer Alma Kelliher, her work explores the boundaries of sound technology and experimental glass art.

In Gallery 1 Karen and Róisín have developed an interactive glass sound experience using objects found in everyday life that enables visitors to try out their own music.


An informal percussion evening on Tuesday 12 August at 5.30pm. See for details.


Luminarium Miracoco at Kilkenny Arts festival

In the Luminarium Miracoco at Kilkenny Arts festival last year

5. Pentalum, by Architects of Air

Kilkenny Castle Yard, Sats & Suns 10-6, weekdays 12-6. €5 (Pay on-site)

Loved this! Fun for ALL ages! This crowd was at last year’s Kilkenny Arts Festival with a different luminarium (Miracoco,) and Terry and I spent ages in it! It was gorgeous and relaxing in there– the colours and light were spellbinding. This year’s offering is a “A hymn to the beauty of geometry,Pentalum features a breathtaking central dome and a maze of magical spaces filled with enchanting light effects.”

I’ve a few tips for you regarding a visit to this year’s offering– as the light was all-natural (I’m assuming this year will be the same,) if you can go when it’s sunny the colours will be more intense.  Also, it is very popular, there will be a wait. Try going first thing in the morning, perhaps. Children (under 16) will need to be with an adult, and the luminarium IS wheelchair accessible.

6. Lear Project

At Watergate Theatre, tickets €18

Fri, 15 Aug 6pm      Sat, 16 Aug 6pm        Sun, 17 Aug 6pm

You know, it’s ok not to understand what it all means. I’m a big fan of dance, especially after I learned that truth straight from those involved in the dance world! (You can see more on that in this post.) I’ve also seen a few of John Scott’s productions, so I’m looking forward to this World Premiere. Also, as it is based around Shakespeare, there will be plenty we can understand 🙂

In a world premiere commissioned by Kilkenny Arts Festival, Irish Modern Dance Theatre reimagines Shakespeare’s King Lear. Choreographer John Scott and an international cast explore themes of parental love, old age, loss of power, fear of death, personal transformation and enlightenment.

The title role is taken by a legend of the New York modern dance scene: Valda Setterfield, one of the original members of the seminal Judson Church movement and a long-time collaborator of Merce Cunningham and her husband, choreographer David Gordon. The performers portraying Lear’s children include Kévin Coquelard (star of the Paris Conservatoire) and Ryan O’Neill (Ponydance and Junk Ensemble).

Lear Project promises to be a deeply personal, playful and profoundly moving new work.

7. Stargaze

Thurs, 14 Aug 8 pm, St Canices Cathedral. tickets €26- €22

One more event that piqued my curiosity was Stargaze. Again, I’ll give you a bit of info from the festival as I’ve no prior knowledge of them, and below is also a video. You can read all of the Kilkenny Arts Fest blurb on Stargaze here. St Canices’ is a beautiful medieval cathedral, and it is a privilege to be able to go enjoy concerts there.

Founded by conductor André de Ridder, stargaze is one of Europe’s most dynamic chamber orchestras. As well as performing as an ensemble, stargaze also devises and commissions a wide range of collaborative projects in the fields of contemporary pop, electronic and classical music, working with artists as varied as Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly and Mouse on Mars. For this spectacular gala event, stargaze comes together with Kilkenny Arts Festival to present three radically different projects that explore the possibilities for collaboration between pop and classical music.

There are, of course, LOADS more ace things to see & hear at the festival. This year Kilkenny Arts Festival has a handy at-a-glance calender of listings online. Check that out here.

Also, don’t forget the fringe art & craft shows. I especially enjoy the craft ones in Thomastown– Grennan Mill is always super. If you’d like to see any of the past years’ posts on Kilkenny Arts festival you’ll find them here.


'Festival of Creeps' Detail of the Bonfire piece by Bob & Roberta Smith

Not THIS festival, surely!! Detail of the Bonfire piece by Bob & Roberta Smith

Are you too shy to interact with art?

I stick my head in a frame that says 'I am a future artist'

Don’t be shy, get in there & be part of it! The Bob & Roberta Smith Art School, Kilkenny Arts Festival. Thank you to the kind woman who took this pic, as my selfie attempts weren’t working!

I know I feel that way sometimes; I’m at a gallery or such, and there is a chance to press a button, listen in on headphones, or look at something hidden behind a door— and I just don’t. What the heck is that about?

And I see many others behaving in the same way. I suspect it has its roots in childhood; being told “don’t touch” by grown-ups, or fear of peers’ sniggers if you do something wrong.  Maybe it is to do with some adults giving the impression that only certain types of people are artists or know about art. So even though we ourselves are now adults we’ve internalized ‘look but don’t touch’, & above all, don’t let anyone know you don’t know exactly what is going on.

But I’m not going to analyze that whole issue here– what I want to say is: Feck It!– let’s not allow any unease stop us; let’s unleash our curiosity and inner artist on the ‘art trail’ of  Art Makes Children Powerful by artist Bob and Roberta Smith. You’re allowed, and it is fun!

The trail of free ‘Bob Centres,‘ as they are known, runs throughout Kilkenny City;  there is a leaflet (pictured below) with a map of the centres; do pick it up, tis quite handy. It also has a section for you to ‘Answer Back’  to the Bob & Roberta Smith ‘ What’s What?’ questions on banners along the Quays. Your answer may feature in a new artwork going onto the walls of Butler Gallery!

Leaflet with Bob Centres map

Leaflet with Bob Centres map

On Saturday  there was a one-off walking tour of the centres, guided by the artist himself. I’ve some photos from that which I hope will give you a tempting taster. 

We started at the ‘Art School’ in the 16th century Bishop’s Palace, where you can pop by and create something yourself! There are artworks, materials, & assistants present to help you spark an idea if you so desire. Fun! 

All ages getting creative at  the 'Art School' section of Bob & Roberta Smith at Kilkenny arts Festival

All ages getting creative at the ‘Art School’ section of Bob & Roberta Smith at Kilkenny arts Festiva

Next, out the back of the Bishop’s Palace & turning left, you come to the building housing the bishop’s old Robing Room. There you will encounter Be Hannah Arendt,  learning some of Hannah’s fascinating life, and you may also try on some of her 1940’s clothes.

Bob & roberta Smith with Hannah Arendt MOTION

Bob & Roberta Smith with Hannah Arendt MOTION

Another Bob Centre is in the Tudor period Rothe House. The Centre For Argument is the perfect place to get something off your chest, and listen to what others have to say.  The facilitators there are Siteation, and they are good craic.  Don’t be nervous, have a go! You can get on the soapbox, use a mic, or tell the world about it all through a good old fashioned megaphone 🙂

 Heading along the river, you can take in the 2 sided Whats What? banners (specially made questions for Ireland) and think of what you’ll say in reply on your Answer Back, or perhaps at the Centre for Argument. At the Bonfire in the county council building, Bob & Roberta read some of the stories written on the bonfire (see my Instagram feed to the right of this post for a video clip of this) and then as a group we did the same.

Centre For Agruement Bob & Roberta Smith

Centre For Agruement Bob & Roberta Smith

Last stop was Butler Gallery in Kilkenny Castle, where ‘static’ works of art from Bob & Roberta Smith are on exhibit. The pieces are colourful & engaging, playful but serious. Here also is where the Answer Back will go onto the wall during & after the Arts Festival. The exhibition at Butler Gallery will continue after the festival, until 6 October.

As it was a walking tour, I didn’t get to  have a go at making some art, try on Hannah’s clothes, or give out about the state of things through a microphone. But watch out; you may spot me getting rid of my art-shyness on the soapbox soon!

Enjoy the festival 🙂

You may also be interested to see the Bob & Roberta Smith documentary film  “Make Your Own Damn Art”  on at Set Theatre, Mon 12 Aug- Sun 18 Aug (except Thurs) 3pm, free.

 Details and opening times of all the Bob centres are here 

Read more about the exhibit at Butler here

For more about Bob & Roberta Smith and his work at Kilkenny Arts Festival have a read of this Irish Times article

Bob & Roberta Smith, various works in the Bob Centres

Bob & Roberta Smith, various works in the Bob Centres


By Jennifer Slattery,  at Utensil
There’s a lot to enjoy at Utensil, the current exhibition at The National Craft Gallery in Kilkenny. There are items you’d love to have on your own table, as well as ones that look like they might bite you back as you ate! The pieces mirror the experiences we have at the dinner table- pleasure, sharing, squabbles, angry or awkward silences full of emotion or worry.
The exhibit gets you thinking about the utensils in your own life, your own family heritage. As Gemma Tipton writes in her Irish Times article about the show:
“There is nothing humble or boring about the spoon in this exhibition, as the German silversmith Wiebke Meurer describes it as ‘an everyday object, always found in the same spot, picked up and handled over and over again. A ritual that lasts for many generations. The life and thoughts of the spoon’s owners merge with the object itself. The spoon becomes a storyteller.'” 
(Ouch!)  items by Stuart Cairns at Utensil
This show was opened during the Kilkenny Arts Festival, & I went along to the informal tour/talk given by Craft curator Angela Kelly, which was quite interesting. These talks are enjoyable & it is interesting to learn more about the pieces, processes, or just even what others think/feel about the works.
If you missed that talk, head over for the free ‘Late Date’ at the gallery (there will be wine!) presented by Ken McGuire, Thurs 30 Aug, 6.30
items from Utensil, during tour
There are a few surprises, like the Whispering Table and Crossfire, so be sure to spend some time with these pieces on your visit.
To see more about the National Craft Gallery, and Utensil, visit their website here.
Utensil will be on show at the gallery until 29 October, 2012.
If you would like to see some of the other wonderful craft items that have been on show at the gallery
 Irish maker Enya Moore also has pieces in the show. 
The photo below is one of her works. (photo from, the rest of the photos are mine.)
Enya Moore

Diving off John’s Bridge, Kilkenny City

Dive into Kilkenny Arts Festival- you’ll emerge energized and refreshed! C’mon down- there’s always a great buzz in town and fantastic things to see, hear, do, and talk about! Seeing the art & craft is free, & there are free events; but even the pay-for events are great value, so come enjoy a fantastic festival! (Dates 9-18 Aug for 2013)

Taster from last year’s Festival- 2012

Head out to the things on outside of KK City, too! We went to the Three Solos show on Thomastown’s Low Street, as well as the shows in gorgeous buildings of Grennan Watermill (Berkley Gallery) & Grennan Mill Craft School. If you only have time for 1 stop, the show in Grennan Mill Craft School is the one Hubby & I feel you should not to miss. Note: my bird photos above do NO JUSTICE to Fiona Heaney‘s pieces- so go see for yourself! Even the buildings are works of art 😉

Old mill workings behind Grennan Mill Craft School, Thomastown, Kilkenny

The Thomastown shows are listed under the category Open Submissions, & don’t (if you can do stairs) get frustrated with climbing the stairs all the way to the top floor of Grennan Mill Craft School for the works there by John Bentley & Andi McGarry are very worth seeing!
Back in Kilkenny City, I got to hear Craft Strand curator Angela Kelly talk about the works in Utensil, on in the National Craft Gallery. Beautiful & interesting, I think it is also worth a visit- and do have a listen to the Whispering Table. Clever idea 🙂 Be sure to check the programme, as there are craft events on for kids & adults, too.

The Globe Theatre  presented As You Like It in the atmospheric setting of the Castle Yard beside the National Craft Gallery all week, and it is a wonderful show. They’ll be doing Taming of The Shrew in 2013. ( If you are interested in Shakespeare & Ireland, you may like this Irish Times article.)  The actors are such great singers as well, and play instruments, too- a multi talented bunch! The show is great fun, & the Friday we went the sun joyfully shone down til dusk fell. Their shows are about 3 hours long, & outdoors, so go prepared for rain, sun, chill– who knows what weather may happen! There is a bar, tho’, so if it is wet you could drown your sorrows 😉

The sun shone on As You Like It!

On Saturday night we saw Aziz Samhaoui & the University of Gnawa. As usual, the music selected by the music curators at Kilkenny Arts Festival didn’t disappoint.The band’s great groove soon had people on the floor dancing, & most others seat dancing as well! I hope to upload a short clip when I’ve time- there’s s.l.o.w. upload speed here *sighs* Til then, here’s a photo & a link to a song from them.

There’s lots on for the family, too, & so manygreat places to eat & chill out when you need a break. We had a very tasty lunch at Zuni’s casual front cafe on Saturday, and Cleeres is always fab for pub lunch, bevvies & craic on the Watergate/Canice’s side of town, while Bridies is a pub we love on the Set Theatre side of town. Where ever you go in Kilkenny– enjoy! And mark your calendar for 9-18 August 2013!

Torcs, c.1200 BC; found at Tara
Have you been enjoying Fintan O’Toole’s series in the Irish Times, ‘A History of Ireland in 100 objects’? The entry on the ancient Irish torcs from Tara really caught my attention, particularily the lines:
”The ability to make these things comes with a period of development that may have been stimulated by the deterioration of the Irish climate from about 1200 BC. This may have led to conflict and insecurity (new types of weapons and enclosed settlements date from this period) with the emergence of more powerful kings.”
I wonder if there are some parallels here with the deterioration of the Irish economy, & some of the traditional structures of power (church, banks, Fianna Fail,) and the fresh outflowing of creativity that seems to be gaining momemtum now. Who/what will our modern ‘powerful kings’ be…will their modern torcs perhaps be like the ones at
the 21st Century Icons show at The National Craft Gallery, where Irish based makers re-interpret the torc for our times..
‘Follow me on Twitter’ by Laura Mcnamara
As part of the Irish Year Of Craft, Fintan will be giving a talk at the Kilkenny Arts Festival on
”As part of the Year of Craft 2011, join Fintan O’Toole, author of the current Irish Times series ‘A History of Ireland in 100 Objects’, to explore what the Greeks called charis: the allure of objects. From a Stone Age mace head from Knowth to the silver tea urns of Georgian Dublin, The Power of the Object asks what the artefacts of earlier times have to tell us about our ancestors, our history and ourselves. As the great writer WG Sebald wrote: “Things know more about us than we know about them.”
To whet your appetite for thinking about & appreciating crafted objects, why not see the Jewelery & Goldsmiths’ graduate show also now on at the National Craft Gallery, on with the 21stc Icons, til the 28th July? If you are unable to make it, here are some photos from the jewellry/goldsmith show, (click the link higher up to see more from the 21st Icons)
The makers all made miniatures of Kilkenny buildings
And Jewelery pieces
There was a whole row of these fabulous wasps from each- unfortunately I struggled to stop the reflection on most of the cases that held the pieces- sorry the photos are not great..
Everyone also made a themed teapot.
There were vases/pitchers, & jewellery pieces inspired by paintings, too. Do get to the gallery to see them in person if you can!
I don’t have the individual pieces labeled as I usually do- I don’t have the info on who made what; if you know, pls leave a comment so I can add in photo captions- thanks! (Here is a list of the makers of the buildings:)
If any of these object have spoken to you, or you enjoy craft, history, or pondering how beautiful &/or useful objects have shaped/shape our culture, come along on Tues, 9 Aug at 8pm to the Parade Tower, & join Fintan O’Toole and Prof. Daniel Miller in exploring The Power Of Objects. You can book here.
See you there!

will be on display at the beautiful, light-filled National Craft Gallery as part of the Craft Strand of the 2011 Kilkenny Arts Festival. The crafts curator, Angela O’Kelly, tells us it will be:
”An exciting mix of emerging and established artists whose work is inspired by the written word, or by the binding and recycling of books and paper, respond to the work of the authors participating in the Literature strand of the festival.”
With 14 different makers displaying their work, it’ll be an eclectic mix, with something for everyone.
Stefan Saffer
I am particularly excited about seeing the work of two people- one is Stefan Saffer, who says his cut outs
”cast a shadow onto the wall to remind you what they are- a space between your thought and another.”
Much of his cut out work is flowing and sensuous, and all his works- sculptures, installations, and folded pieces, have something to say, and not just always in the spaces-
sometimes the text is clear!
Sweepstake by Stefan Saffer
I’m looking forward to seeing what he may be saying ‘in the spaces’ at ‘Modified Expression.’
Rachel Hazell
I’m also looking forward to travelling bookbinder Rachel Hazell‘s work.
She has some beautiful photos on her blog
where she ”sees books in everything”
This image photographed by Rachel is even more interesting when you ‘see a book’ in it.
Rachel has traveled to many places, including the Antarctic, so she’s full of wild & wonderful books. Do click to see more about the trip & pictures of the amazing ‘ice bound: antarctic bookworks’ inspired by her time there.
The bookbinding workshops she’s leading at the festival are also listed under the children’s events, but after reading about her & seeing her work, I know I’d love to go- what about you?
These are only 2 of the interesting makers showing at the festival- there are many more! You may like to have a look at an earlier post containing some of the other craftspeople & events here.
And if you missed it on the Kilkenny Arts festival’s blog page, have a watch of what else Craft curator Angela O’Kelly has to say about the strand.
Hope to see you all at the festival! 

The fabulous Kilkenny Arts Festival 2011 program is here! 
Once again, it is choc-a-blok with intriguing offerings in the areas of music, theatre, dance, literature, visual arts, craft, and kids’ events. Where else would you be able to hear a ”flamboyant harpsichordist,” (Christophe Rousset,) see dance theatre for free from ”incorrigable flirts” ponydance (so says the Irish Times!) and groove to Mongolian traditional music with ”western sensibility” from Hanggai!?!

I am so going to this!! Hanggai
I’ll be blogging on the Craft Strand, and an exciting theme in the strand this year is literature & books.

Modified Expression will be on at The National Craft Gallery, with a range of makers responding to the theme.
Here’s one of them with a rather otherworldly video done in the Dublin suburbs last winter- calligraphy in the snow by Denis Brown, The Real Quill Skill

There will be bookbinding workshopspapercraft workshops and birdsong related workshops for the kids all at the National Craft Gallery.

Laoise O’Brien & Lorna Donlon

For the adults, ‘How Happy For The Little Birds’ is a musical programme connected to the crafts works from Lorna Donlon on display in the Castle Yard- a response to the musical repertoire.

There will also be an artists’ talk in the National Craft Gallery, and an early evening Celebration of the Year Of Craft .

Hot Glass Divas will be on at Jerpoint Glass Studio
I’m also really looking forward to seeing the Hot Glass Divas works on show at Jerpoint Glass (located outside of Thomastown,) – definitely worth a drive, because you can then also see the exhibits on show at Grennan Mill Craft School.

Clive Nunn is one of the makers who’ll be showing in Grennan Mill. Check out the others by clicking here & scrolling down to where the listings are for ‘Other Selections.’ There are plenty to see!

 So there’s a small taste of the Festival. It is well worth going to; nothing is expensive, much is free, and Kilkenny is a lovely, small city- easy to get around on foot. Take some time out, check all the listings, & plan to enjoy some fun, unusual, thought provoking & beautiful exhibits and events. See you there!