When I’m asked to recommend a single spot in Ireland for the would-be retiree, I come up with at least five possibilities. Then, for each place, I ask one critical question: Could a non-local (one not born into a harsh Irish winter) survive here year-round? Is there enough to amuse when the nights are long and it rains for a week at a time? The one place that stands out to me right now—passing this year-round test with flying colors—is Kilkenny.
This “Medieval city” (now officially a town) is the arts and artisanal center of Ireland. From April to October, its streets buzz with local and tourist shoppers in search of unique clothing, gifts, and home-wares. They come in the winter months, too, though in lesser numbers. The big event in town is the annual Cat Laughs Comedy Festival in June that attracts comedy fans from around the world, while November’s Kilkenomics Festival—a quirky marriage of economists and comedians from around the world—is growing in popularity. And, any time boredom strikes, you can reach Dublin in 70 minutes by direct motorway.
The whole county of Kilkenny deserves to be explored, particularly those towns and villages along the Nore and Barrow rivers. Dotted between patchwork fields representing every shade of green, you’ll find potters, glassmakers, and jewelry designers, all inspired by the natural beauty surrounding them.
My favorite outpost here is Graiguenamanagh, the “village of the monks,” on the River Barrow. While “Graig” has all the appearances of a sleepy Irish village, the river is a hub of activity. Visitors here don’t come for the nightlife. They come to swim, jump from the diving boards, kayak, barge, fish, and eat some of the tastiest home baking from local tearooms and cafes. More on liveandinvestoverseas.com