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Kilkenny Castle dates back to the 12th Century whilst the imposing stable yard, with its crescent-shaped building, circular windows and copper-domed tower, was built by the Duke of Ormonde in 1790.
In 1963 these buildings were converted to house Kilkenny Design Workshops (KDW), a state-sponsored design initiative aimed at improving the design of Irish products and increasing exports. Under the leadership of William H. Walsh the buildings were acquired and converted, opening initially with five workshops – silver and metalwork, textile weaving, textile printing, ceramics, and woodworking. Designers from across Europe were employed as lead designers and mentors, making Kilkenny a centre of design excellence, and contributing significantly to the development of contemporary craft practice in Ireland. In 1988 the KDW closed its doors.
Today it is home to a number of thriving design and craft businesses.