Two and a half hours northeast of Cork lies the medieval town of Kilkenny. This postcard-pretty town is typical for Ireland, making it the perfect first stop on your journey. Here, you’ll find winding alleys, traditional pubs, and a lively arts and crafts scene. Pottery, jewellery, and paintings dominate the offerings, with many small shops perfect for browsing. Also worth seeing: Kilkenny Castle, a majestic Norman castle with a huge park. Built between 1195 and 1213, the castle served to defend the surrounding trade routes and the ford across the Nore river.