Jenkinstown Wood, Kilkenny
You’ll find Jenkinstown Wood less than 10 km north of Kilkenny City. It’s less than 40 minutes from our home in Athy, Co. Kildare – and because we love to spread our free weekly adventure time between our neighbouring counties, it has become one of our favourite spots to visit.
- Address: Jenkinstown, Co. Kilkenny
- Amenities: Toilets, Picnic Benches, Car Park, Walking Trails.
- Google Coordinates: 52°43’52.3″N 7°17’21.3″W
- Car Park Opening Times: 9.30am – 5.00pm all year round
Further Reading: Memorable Exploring at Kells Priory in Kilkenny, Ireland
The wood, which was once part of the Bryan Bellew Estate, is only a few acres in size, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in wonderment, especially for our two little adventurers.
There’s a colourful history to Jenkinstown Castle and House. The castle which was built in the 1600s, no longer exists, on this site anyway. However you can find its stonework at the entrance to St Kieran’s College in Kilkenny. The house which was built in the 1800s has, after major renovations over the years, lived to tell the tale and still stands in all its glory today. This article ‘What’s left of Jenkinstown Castle?‘ on the Kilkenny People website gives a great bit of insight into the history and heritage of Jenkinstown House and Castle. And you can also find information on the Jenkinstown House website, where they offer Glamping at Jenkinstown – something I’d love to experience in the future.
Further Reading: Castlecomer Discovery Park Kilkenny – For All Seasons
Other sites that might be of interest before you visit are:
- Coillte – gives an overview of Jenkinstown Wood along with a Downloadable Map.
- Sports Ireland – gives information on the Walled Garden Loop.
Further Reading: Lunch at Ristorante Rinuccini, 1 The Parade, Kilkenny
10 Things to Do at Jenkinstown Wood
- Picnic – there are picnic benches on the lawn at the car park and benches throughout the woodland trails.
- Visit the Deer – there’s a deer enclosure with lots of friendly deer who are quite partial to a carrot or two.
- Step inside the Threshing Mill Building – wander in out of the rain, or wonder at its architecture.
- Walk the Walled Garden Loop – on easy terrain and at 2.5 km, this walking trail is the perfect stretch for ‘little legs’.
- Walk the Jenkinstown Loop – again the terrain is easy but a little longer at 4 km, this walk gives you the opportunity to see across the neighbouring countryside.
- Visit St. Colmans Well – it’s signposted and on the Walled Garden Loop.
- Visit the Secret Garden – at the end of the woodland walk, next to Jenkinstown House – the lawn, dedicated to Thomas Moore offers views across the countryside and a gorgeous monument.
- Enjoy some Forest Bathing – tree species include beech, ash, oak, Norway spruce and rare Chinese Necklace Poplars.
- Keep an eye out for Irish Wildlife – along with the deer in the deer enclosure, keep an eye out for foxes, badgers, stoats, and red and grey squirrels.
- Always look Up – along with Irish Wildlife and according to Discover Ireland, the woods and trees at Jenkinstown Wood are home to robins, pheasants, ravens, long-eared owls and even bats!
I would love to see plaques or boards with information on the places of interest within Jenkinstown Wood, that offer visitors who like me have an interest in Irish history, heritage and wildlife. Because for me it brings another dimension to my walk, as I love to learn and share my knowledge with my children – to help them understand and imagine.
The Threshing Mill Building
The Threshing Mill is a gorgeous 19th century structure found just off the main car park on the green. Climb the steps to the wooden door and let your imagination take you back to when the building was used for threshing grains.
Further Reading: Anocht, Kilkenny Design Centre, Castle Yard, Kilkenny
Circular with two stories, Jenkinstown Threshing Mill building most likely had a horse-walk connected to it.
Step inside and have a wander about. It’s also a little sanctuary from those unexpected rain showers.
The Deer Enclosure
A highlight of our regular visits is a walk across the green to the Deer Enclosure. Sometimes we bring carrots to feed them, sometimes it’s a quick hello. If these gorgeous little creatures think there are snacks to be had they’ll be over to greet you at the gate.
Jenkinstown Walking Trails
As mentioned above there are two main walking trails, the ‘Walled Garden Loop‘ and the ‘Jenkinstown Loop‘. For the Walled Garden Loop you’ll enter through one ‘Door in the Wall’ next to the mapboard at the picnic tables. and back around through another door, back onto the green.
Of course you can start from whichever door in the wall tickles your fancy.
The terrain is easy, and flat enough if you have a pram or walking aid. Just be careful with some parts of the path as it can become a little uneven as it goes down hill slightly – we have a little four year old who has learnt the hard way that it’s not so easy to stop running down hill especially when you lose your footing … ouch!
St. Colman’s Well
St. Colman is the Patron Saint of Conahy Church in Jenkinstown. Does this well have any magical powers? I don’t know, but I haven’t dipped my toes in to see.
From butterflies and bees to flowers and fauna, it’s a peaceful walk along the path under the canopy of trees. Add the remnants of old stone walls and the hedges to create frames for the countryside beyond the woodland trail.
From picnic benches to clean working toilets, it’s the simple pleasures that always grab my attention. And apart from a discarded tent and camping chair amongst the trees, Jenkinstown Wood has always been litter free when we’ve visited.
So if you are visiting remember to ‘Leave No Trace’ and the same goes for your pooch, if you’re bringing your four-legged friend on an adventure too.
From what looks like an old bath, to huts made from branches, gigantic redwoods to bridges made from tree trunks, Jenkinstown Wood is a place of wonderment for every young child to explore.
And after you’ve walked through the tunnel of greenery of beech, ash and oak in all it’s dappled light, make your way to the ‘Secret Garden’ next to Jenkinstown House.
The Secret Garden
Walled on two sides with a private teak door into Jenkinstown House, the “Secret Garden’ was created to commemorate the Irish poet Thomas Moore.
Inspired by a rose whilst staying at Jenkinstown House as a guest of Major George Bryan, Moore wrote the Last Rose of Summer. The poem was then set to a melody by Sir John Stevenson and published in a collection of Moore’s work called Irish Melodies (1807-34).
You can listen and watch to the Celtic Woman version on YouTube here. I bet you’ll recognise it, even if you think you didn’t know it!
In fact ‘the actual rose’ that inspired Thomas Moore can be found at the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin.
Well, in actual fact, according to former gardener Paddy Daly it can be found in less conspicuous places around Ireland too.
Jenkinstown Wood – Top Tips
- Enjoy a picnic but leave no trace.
- Pack a few carrots for the deers.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes and weather appropriate clothing.
- Pack your camera, phone or drone, for plenty of photo opportunities from the woodland walk to aerial footage.
- Visit during the springtime for bluebells.
PIN: Walks and Wonderment at Jenkinstown Wood, Kilkenny
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