Ireland's newest museum opens for business today, a €6.5 million Medieval Mile Museum in the heart of Kilkenny.
Set in the 13th century St. Mary's Church, the official opening follows a five-year restoration and excavation that threw up many surprise finds.
Replica High Crosses of Ossory at the Kilkenny Mile Museum. Photos: Luca Truffarelli / MedievalMileMuseum.ie
The Kilkenny room in the Kilkenny Mile Museum. Photos: Luca Truffarelli / MedievalMileMuseum.ie
Tickets to the Medieval Mile Museum, which is intended to tie Kilkenny's medieval hits and heritage elements together, are priced from €7/€3pp (adults/children).
Displays range from civic treasures like the city's sword, mace and 'Liber primus Kilkenniensis' (a record book dating from 1231), to replicas of the High Crosses of Ossory, and some stunning medieval sculptures and Renaissance tombs.
800 years of history are housed under one roof at St. Mary's, with a modern twist - interactive tables function like giant iPads, and visitors can absorb information from long plasma TV screens and imagery projected onto a giant wall.
The €6.5 million museum was commissioned by Kilkenny County Council, with "significant assistance" from Fáilte Ireland’s Capital Programme and additional funding from Kilkenny Civic Trust.
Kilkenny's 'Medieval Mile', which stretches from Kilkenny Castle to St. Canice's Cathedral, has become a key hook for tourism in recent years. Both it, and the new museum, are flagship attractions for Ireland's Ancient East.
During excavations, a host of discoveries delighted and surprised those working on the project, and many of these - including bones, Roman coins, brooches, mounts, weapons and toys - will eventually appear as exhibits.
Another highlight is the ornate Rothe Chapel, with exposed tombs belonging to the medieval merchant Rothe family. Towards the rear of the building, with views over the city, the Kilkenny Room houses civic artefacts and papers.
45-minute guided tours are available from €12/€5 for adults/children, and the museum will also host temporary exhibitions and events.
For more information, see medievalmilemuseum.ie.