Aard Oakleigh is situated in the picturesque, craft village of Bennettsbridge. The bridge itself dates from the 1700’s and was built to replace an earlier bridge that was washed away a great flood.
Bennettsbridge is also the end (or start) of the Nore Valley Trail, which is a must-see for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers as they can walk along a beautiful and well-maintained track running alongside the river all the way to Kilkenny city.
A few miles away from Aard Oakleigh is an excellent example of a round tower, which dates from the 9th Century. Tullaherin round tower was built as a fortification against the Norsemen and stands 7 stories high (73 feet) with a 3 foot lean to the South. This monastic site also features the ruin of a 12th century church and 2 Ogham stones.
A little farther on from the round tower, is a magnificent 2m tall effigy of a Norman knight known as The Long Man of Kilfane. An Canwell Fada (the Long Man) stands guard in the ruins of Kilfane Church and dates from the 14th of 15th Century.
Kilkenny is Ireland’s smallest city, but is packed full of character. Known as the ‘medieval city’ it was actually the capital of Ireland in medieval times and it still boasts many historic features that were built over 500 years ago, for example St. Canice’s Cathedral, Rothe House (site of the tourist office), and Kilkenny Castle. Nowadays, Kilkenny is Ireland’s capital of festivals, and plays host to the Cat Laughs Comedy Festival, Savour Kilkenny Food Festival, the Kilkenny Roots Music Festival, Kilkenny Arts Festival to name just a few.
Also well worth a visit are nearby Thomastown and Jerpoint Abbey. Jerpoint Abbey is a 12th Century Cistercian monastic site renowned for its unique stone carvings. Driving on from Thomastown to New Ross takes you along one of the most beautiful and least known trips in the Ireland’s ancient East.