Our Story

Kilkenny Shop has been at the forefront of promoting the finest Irish craft and design for over 50 years and is home to Ireland’s largest collection of Irish designers.

From fashion, knitwear and accessories, to handmade jewellery, dazzling crystal, art, hand-thrown pottery and a wide range of gifts, you can be sure to find some wonderfully designed products at Kilkenny!

Choose from an array of top Irish designers such as Orla Kiely, Nicholas Mosse, Fee G, Caroline Kilkenny, Stephen Pearce, Waterford Crystal and John Rocha to name but a few, all internationally renowned for their talented creations and individual design flare.

Or our well-known international brands including Guess, Fossil, Radley and Cluse.

“Customer experience is incredibly important to us and we have personal shoppers on hand to ensure you have the best experience”, says CEO Marian O Gorman.

Overseas visitors can avail of tax free shopping and free shipping*.

Kilkenny has two award winning restaurants in Shanagarry Cork and upstairs in Nassau Street Dublin with stunning views of Trinity College. Treat yourself to our homemade artisan food, award-winning breakfasts, delicious lunches, and mouth-watering range of freshly baked cakes and barista coffee.

There are 13 Kilkenny Shops located around the country in Dublin (Nassau St, Stillorgan & Swords), Galway, Killarney, Ennis Co Clare, Cork (Cork city, Douglas & Shanagarry), Cashel Co. Tipperary, Trim Co. Meath , Newbridge Co. Kildare and Greystones Co.Wicklow as well as two sister Christys stores (Killarney and Cobh, Co. Cork) and two in-store cafés.

Discover our range of Irish design today.

Our Story

There’s a fascinating back story to Kilkenny, which many customers are unaware of. 

The early days…
Kilkenny was originally set up as Kilkenny Design Workshops (KDW) in April 1963 by the Government to help develop novice Irish craft makers into self-sufficient entrepreneurs and to create sustainable design jobs in Ireland. 

The idea of a state-sponsored design agency was quite revolutionary at the time and has since been replicated by other countries.



Designers and craftspeople from all over Ireland were asked to relocate to Kilkenny town, where they shared skills, and worked collaboratively to build links with industry and grow the market for Irish design and manufacture. 

The workshops…
When the workshops first started, international designers were headhunted to share their expertise with these new Irish designers and trainees.



The initial workshops included the working of precious metals, wood-turning, ceramics, candle-making, weaving, linen knitting andprinting textiles. 



It was also important for Ireland to develop its own unique traditional crafts and design, so a focus was put on indigenous materials like local pottery clays, bog oak, dense black limestone known as Kilkenny marble, and Irish mined silver.

 

First Kilkenny Shops...
At the official opening of KDW in 1965, guests wanted to purchase some of the gorgeous crafts and gifts on display, which inspired the Government to open the first Kilkenny Shop to sell all of the products produced at the workshops.



In 1976, KDW opened a second store on Nassau St Dublin, and both stores set up thriving cafes.

  

The products developed and sold at KDW became renowned for their design, aesthetic, craftsmanship, and advances in industrial design, and the name ‘Kilkenny’ became synonymous worldwide with good design.

Marian O’Gorman…
Today, the business is owned and run by Marian O’Gorman and her family.



Marian has her own story. She is originally from Blarney in Cork, and her late father, Christy Kelleher, was the founder of Blarney Woollen Mills.

Marian left school at 16 to work alongside her father in his business and credits him for much of her business acumen.

Marian worked in Blarney Woollen Mills for over 28 years, eight of which she spent as the company’s CEO. During that time, the government put the two Kilkenny stores up for sale and Blarney bought the Dublin store.



There was a Blarney Woollen Mills demerger in 1999, and Marian was allocated the brand and became the CEO of The Kilkenny Group, taking the Nassau Street store, a sweater shop in Killarney (which she later branded as a Kilkenny store), and two outlets, one in Killarney and one in Cobh, which trade under the brand name Christy’s.

Since then, she has gone on to grow the group phenomenally to a position where it now includes a total of 15 stores around the country, 2 cafes and a thriving online shop. The business now employs 280 staff.

Marian credits much of the company’s success to their unwavering dedication to developing new Irish designers and promoting the finest Irish craftsmanship and design.  Numerous top Irish designers such as Orla Kiely, Chupi and Rebeka Kahn started their journeys with Kilkenny, under the mentorship of Marian.