Let's move to a city in the midst of marshes where the locals carry wooden clubs! This week: Kilkenny

What’s it about? 

Kilkenny, Ireland’s living medieval city, is a testament to centuries of systemic underinvestment. Small, impractical lopsided buildings that should have been razed to the ground have been given a new lease of life by opportunistic locals spinning decades of infrastructure neglect as ‘quaint’.

If you have a problematic relationship with alcohol or want to cultivate one, then the Marble City’s the place for you. Featuring almost as many pubs as people, every second storefront’s dedicated to booze.

While guaranteeing a river of pissed tourists flowing through the streets, this surfeit of pubs is less useful if you need to buy a toaster, milk or anything other than a pint of local ale and a packet of salted nuts.

Any good points?

Kilkenny is fiercely proud of its sporting culture, with the Cats its foremost representatives in the Irish sport of hurling. This passion’s evident from the many wanderers in the city wielding hurls. So if you piss off a local you’ll be battered with a heavy wooden stick.

The vibrant food scene means many renowned restaurants dealing in fresh local produce. Within a month you’ll wonder how the fuck they survive while all selling little more than slight variations on beef stew.

One of the finest examples of Norman architecture in Western Europe is right in the centre. Dating from 1195, Kilkenny Castle really hammers home just how little else of note has been built in Kilkenny in the last 827 years.

Wonderful landscape?

Not only is Kilkenny Ireland’s smallest city, but it is also the furthest from the coast. However there’s a rich culture of river swimming in the Nore, which has a rich culture of its own. St Luke’s hospital is right there in town to treat your bacterial infections.

There are numerous walking routes to take hikers through spectacularly bland and marshy countryside, and along a perennially under-serviced N-road. Through summer these are heaving with silent, hungover stag parties killing time before the pubs open.

Hang out at…

The first weekend of June plays host to the Cat Laughs Comedy Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe for acts whose careers aren’t going well enough for them to have been on telly.

Ever wondered how one of Ireland’s lowest-ABV mass-produced ales is made? Then why not take the Smithwick’s brewery tour? Honestly, after a few weekends here, you’ll feel wildly entertained by a drama student working as a tour guide lecturing you about hops.

And there are a hundred bars like Ryan’s famous for their traditional music. Stumble in to find dead-eyed local musicians begrudgingly playing fiddles, bodhráns, and other stereotypically Irish instruments for the amusement of bloated American tourists.

Where to buy?

The opulent Kilkenny Castle was sold by its last owner, Lord Ormonde, to the Irish State for £50 in 1967. Property prices in the area have never recovered. You can buy what amounts to a mansion on the outskirts of town for the cost of a shitty studio apartment in Dublin.

It might even be worth trying your luck at buying back the castle. Given what it went for then, rock up, hammer on their oaken doors and offer your 2013 Toyota Yaris for the deeds to the place.

From the streets:

Tom Booker said: “I moved here from Glasgow. It should be illegal for any urban centre in the 21st century to call itself a ‘city’ without any discernible form of public transport.”

Joseph Turner said: “For someone as into lizards as me, it was a no-brainer to live near the National Reptile House. I will fight their restraining order with every fibre of my being.”

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Mash Blind Date: a man who loves running and hiking and climbing, and a woman who hates that shit but lied

LOVER of the outdoors Jack Browne, aged 28, is thrilled to be dating Hannah Tomlinson, aged 25, who hates all that crap but fancies men who do it. 

Jack on Hannah

First impression?

Really impressed, she’s far more glamorous than most girls who’ve done an Iron Man Triathlon and has far fancier nails. Proves that you don’t have to be all North Face and Mammut to be into that scene.

How was conversation? 

Fantastic. She’s not a bragger even though she’s bagged a third of the Munros – as I told her, if I’d climbed that many I’d never shut up about it! Instead, gracefully, she was more interested in my achievements.

Memorable moments?

Hilariously, she managed to mix up wakeboarding and coasteering even though they’re completely different! We had a good laugh about that one! She was pretty keen to change the subject!

Favourite thing about Hannah? 

She wears her achievements so lightly. I mentioned ultramarathons and she said ‘yeah, I think maybe I’ve done one of those’ as if you’d forget running 42 kilometres up the Matterhorn! I really admire her modesty.

A capsule description? 

Absolutely hardcore. Her endurance prowess puts me to shame. Plus she’s really gorgeous and amazingly not carrying any injuries.

Was there a spark? 

God yes.

What happened afterwards? 

Well, we kissed, she indicated that it didn’t have to end there, and we went back to my place. I’ll draw a veil there but she certainly has stamina.

What would you change about the evening? 

At times I felt a little bit outclassed. She acted like she was impressed by my mere handful of marathons and the time I climbed Kilimanjaro, then let slip that she could put that in the shade. She even had the courtesy to seem embarrassed.

Will you see each other again?  

Yes, she’s joining me for a 15k on Sunday. I hope I can keep up with her is all.

Hannah on Jack

First impression?

Tinder didn’t lie. He’s got that rangy, outdoors, weatherbeaten look I absolutely melt for. Though anoraks are not suitable for dates even if they are ‘Patagonia’ or whatever.

How was conversation? 

Focused. He wanted to know all about my training schedule, where I’d hiked, all that stuff. I bluffed a load of vague crap and he seemed to believe me. But he was really reticent about the stuff he’d done even though I was lapping it up.

Memorable moments?

He was blathering about some free climber basehumper crap and doing all these gestures and the light caught him and oh yes, the muscles. Oh mama. That was the point at which I decided I would be getting that shirt off.

Favourite thing about Jack? 

The body, the looks, the thought of getting it on in the Lake District. I’m not camping though. Fuck that.

A capsule description? 

Like a cowboy except I’ll be doing the riding.

Was there a spark? 

Bloody hell yes. Like a climbing axe dragging down a granite wall, I imagine is the kind of thing he’d say.

What happened afterwards? 

We went back to his and shagged, because I needed to seal the deal before he finds out I spend most evenings watching Coronation Street and most weekends deciding where to brunch. Fuck no I don’t go up Helvellyn, but we’ve found something physical to do together now, yeah?

What would you change about the evening? 

I would have lied less or researched my lies better. From the widening of his eyes a few of my claims were perhaps more extreme than I intended. I thought an ultramarathon was like a short version?

Will you see each other again?  

Yeah, I’m going watching him do a race on Sunday. He thinks I’m running it but I’m not. I’ll say I’ve hurt my leg or something.