Where: Castlecomer Discovery Park and Craft Yard
Why: I came here a few years ago with my sister. Its lovely as the craft yard is full of studios with artists so there is jewellery, pottery, sweet shop and lots of other crafts. I was really impressed with it and so I decided to do a feature on my blog in case there are people not aware of it. My nephew came here on a school tour and liked it too.
What: Woodland adventure park and craft yard with coal mining museum.
Whats there: There are woodland walks, the craftyard, cafe, elf and fairy village, playground , ziplines, treetop adventure walks. climbing wall, orienteering and boating, coal mining museum.
How: I drove to Kilkenny city and then followed the N28. The park is just as you head out of the town of Castlecomer.
How much: You have to pay for parking. I brought an apple muffin which was delicious and a coffee in the cafe for a few euros too. They do hot meals but I came after 4 and so they had stopped serving it was only tea and coffee.
Pro: The range of amenities here is amazing. It was the former Castlecomer Demense and some of it was a coal mine. Its such a wonderful rejuvenation of the area and a great attraction. I love the craft yard and the woodland walks.
Cons: My camera had some issues with light balance and so its a pro that I am going back to cover the park
in more detail but a con that the pictures are all over
exposed so most cannot be shared. Sorry and that is
why some are in black and white too.
Experience: I had a lovely time here. I loved the trails through the forest. There are signs of mining evident still. I think its a wonderful amenity for the people of Castlecomer and surrounding areas. I love to see that local artists are being supported too. It was a great idea and well done to all. There are ducks and swans on the lake, the fairy and elf village is so cute as well. They hold events throughout the year so if you are planning a trip to Kilkenny and are looking for a family friendly place to go check out the website.
History: The Discovery Park now stands on the site of the Wandesforte Estate. The family came from England and were originally from around Yorkshire. The first member Christopher arrived in Ireland in 1636 and was granted the Estate at Castlecomer as well as the title of Master of the Rolls, Lord Chief Justice and later Lord Deputy of Ireland. The family were responsible for opening and working the coal seams in the area. The area lies along the Leinster Coalfield which stretches from Laois to Carlow. His son also Christopher was a Baron and his grandson was given the title of Baron Wandesforte and Viscount Castlecomer by Queen Anne. Later, the family married into the Butlers of Ormonde in Kilkenny and the title followed the Ormonde family.
By 1780 the mine was leased out to mining companies who ran the operations and employed local men to work in the mine. Charles Harward Butler-Clarke-Southwell- Wandesforde took a great interest in the mining on the estate as well as the welfare of the workers.The family accrued a great fortune over time from the coal fields on their land. He is said to have helped some of them emigrate and also assisted with rent reductions. He was succeed by his daughter Sarah and her husband John Prior. Her grandson inherited the estate, namely Richard Henry he took control of the mines and invested in them to modernise them.
Castlecomer House no longer stands. The Craft Yard is situated in the former farm yard and stables. The former kitchen garden is now home to a herd of Deer. The mines closed in 1969.
Discovery Park Website
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Link to shop