Kilkenny is one of Ireland’s coolest cities. Home to arts and comedy festivals, it also lures weekenders, as well as stag and hen parties, all seeking some of its lively bar life.
It has a strong fashion following, with several destination shops, but so far none have achieved the cult status of Folkster, an emporium whose mothership is housed within a former bank. Such was its success that owner Blanaid Hennessy opened a second shop in the capital, reversing the usual shop expansion route. Designer consignment shop The Wardrobe, on William Street, is also worth a look.
The cradle of Irish design, Kilkenny’s Design Centre and the National Craft Gallery, are both housed in Castle Yard, built as the coach houses and stables of Kilkenny Castle.
Nearby is Rudolf Heltzel, a goldsmith where you can buy earrings from €29, but the really covetable cocktail rings start from €850.
The city has a great food history too. As well as boasting a Michelin star restaurant and three bib gourmand eateries, it is home to several artisan food shops including Little Green Grocer and The Gourmet Store, but the original of the species remains delicatessen Shortis Wong, an old-fashioned establishment with nary a metro tile in sight. kilkennycityonline.com; visitkilkenny.ie
Less than €20
Just five miles outside Kilkenny is High Bank Orchards, producer of award-winning apple drinks. Try its organic Orchard Syrup, €8.95, on French toast or porridge, or sip its apple juice, €4.50 per 750ml bottle. They also make a driver's cider, about €4 per bottle, while its alcoholic Proper Cider and New Honeyed Medieval Cider are both €5.50. The farm also produces a single estate organic apple gin called Kilkenny Crystal Gin, €59. You can buy the drinks at several shops in the city, but if you've got the time, visit the farm shop.
Highbank Orchards, Farmley, Cuffesgrange, Co. Kilkenny, tel: 056-772 9918, highbankorchards.com
Less than €50
Hurling is a religion here and sports fans can pay their respects at The Hurling Depot, where Gary Brickell has just taken over. He sells hurls for age one year up, and all the wooden ones are made in Kilkenny. He stocks the work of local graphic designer Pamela Farragher of thehurlingstore.ie whose boot bags are €20 and gear bags, €30. The Hurling Depot, 80 John Street, tel: 086-42 8811, thehurleydepot.com
Less than €100
Situated on the edge of the city, Kilkenny Architectural Salvage and Antiques is a place that sells all sort of surprising finds and that's the fun of rummaging through its vast stock levels. It is run by Robert Maharaj. You can find mahogany and oak parquet, from €35 per square yard, old Victorian radiators (pictured), from €200 each, a huge selection of timber beams, cast iron baths and garden furniture. A giant pair of gothic-style chandeliers, €2,800 each, listed under its pub and hotel section, would work equally well in a double height home. A cast iron bird bath costs €100. The Old Woollen Mills, Bleach Road, tel: 056-7764434 / 087-2848414; eurosalve.com
Less than €500
Catherine O'Dwyer worked with YSL and Joseph in London, was a personal shopper with Harvey Nichols in Dubai, and ran two boutiques in London. Returning home, she opened Luxe Room, a boutique on William Street. She stocks Irish designers such as Umit Kutluk and Róisín Gartland, as well as international labels like British Goat and Danish Set. She has expanded to a larger premises over three floors. There's a café on the lower ground floor, accessories on the ground floor and a floor devoted to her covetable clothes. Pictured is a silk polyamide mix skirt, €289, by Weill. Luxe Room, William Street, tel: 056-7702134, luxeroom.ie
More than €500
Willie Duggan Lighting and Furniture has been in business for 80 years, but eight years ago moved from Rose Inn Street to a business park, better suited to professionals coming to shop the range. While it stocks Kartell and Giovanetti furniture, the pieces are really used to set off its extensive lighting range. It has Austrian brand Prolicht, Italian Ivela, and Nostalgia, from Studio Italia (pictured), which comes in three sizes, with prices from €258, and Spanish brands B.Lux, Arturo Alvarez and LZF. Willie Duggan Lighting & Furniture, 25-26 Hebron Business Park, Kilkenny, tel: 056-7764308, williedugganlighting.com