Kilkenny Group to set up shop in namesake city

Purchase of Kilkenny Design Centre will reunite original Kilkenny design workshops

The Kilkenny Group, owned by Marian O’Gorman and her children, is buying the Kilkenny Design Centre in Kilkenny, whose owner Kathleen Moran is retiring after 30 years. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

The Kilkenny Group of retail outlets and restaurants has agreed a deal to buy the Kilkenny Design Centre, giving the group a presence for the first time in the south Leinster city that gives it its name.

Kilkenny Group, controlled by Cork-based Marian O'Gorman and her children, is buying the design complex opposite Kilkenny Castle from local businesswoman Kathleen Moran, who is retiring after operating it for 30 years.

The deal reunites the State’s original Kilkenny design workshops, first established by the government to showcase Irish crafts in the 1960s. They were sold off by the State in the 1980s.

Kilkenny Group, then a part of Blarney Woollen Mills, bought the Dublin store, which is now its Nassau Street flagship, while Ms Moran opened up in 1988 on the site of the original design workshop.


The recent transaction includes a foodhall and adjacent craft centre, which opens daily, and also Anocht, a fine dining restaurant that opens for dinner at weekends. Kilkenny Group says it intends to continue operating the whole design centre complex in Castle Yard in the heart of the city.

Kilkenny Design Centre is owned by Ms Moran and her family, and employs about 59 staff. According to its most recent set of accounts, it made a profit last year of about €175,000.

“We at Kilkenny are privileged to welcome Kilkenny Design team retail store and restaurant into our company,” said Ms O’Gorman. “We look forward to enhancing the Irish craft and design industry together with our new colleagues.”

Meanwhile, Clydaville Investments, the company that operates Kilkenny Group, reported a one-quarter drop in profits in the year to the end of January of just over €900,000, according to accounts recently filed. Sales slipped marginally to just below €30 million.

Ms O’Gorman recently settled a legal action brought against her by her son, former group marketing director Greg O’Gorman, over the ownership of the business. As part of the settlement, Ms O’Gorman’s children are to get shares in a new holding company for Kilkenny Group.

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times