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Abbey Quarter Project, Kilkenny

The Abbey Quarter, site of the former Smithwick’s Brewery, is a strategic city centre site located on the banks of the river Nore in the heart of Kilkenny City. The 300 year old brewery was closed by Diageo in 2013. Kilkenny County Council then purchased the site and produced a detailed masterplan for the brewery site and adjacent lands, totalling about 20 acres. With St Francis Abbey at its core, this regeneration project aims to create an attractive, well-designed urban quarter with a mix of uses. These include commercial, residential, enterprise development, recreational and community.

For more information about the project you can visit the council’s website

The masterplan’s vision is to develop the Abbey Quarter as a seamless complement to the medieval city. It envisages the quarter being an inclusive place for an inter-generational community to work, live and play. The masterplan supports objectives in the Government’s National Planning Framework such as compact growth; enhanced regional accessibility; sustainable mobility; a strong economy, supported by enterprise, innovation and skills; and enhanced amenities and heritage.

The project links the old and the new. A brownfield site (a disused site envisaged for redevelopment) will be transformed through new buildings and the re-use of old buildings. Certain empty spaces will be converted into public spaces. The regenerated area will enhance the city’s Medieval Mile. 

The Government has given approval in principal to provide €6.15 million through its Urban Regeneration Development Fund (URDF) to fund significant public realm areas (that is, areas that the public can access) and community and cultural infrastructure projects in the Abbey Quarter. The funding allocation is 75% of the total cost of these works. These include:

  • a riverside park
  • a two and half acre urban park around St Francis Abbey
  • other community and cultural infrastructure, including a public library in the Mayfair building.

The public spaces and parks will become a backdrop to Kilkenny’s many outdoor festivals.  

This page will record aspects of the Abbey Quarter Project along its journey. The project will take a number of years to complete. During that time we hope to capture the site’s transformation. Watch this space. Watch progress.

Updates on the Project

In July 2019, work commenced on the Abbey Quarter site. On 01 August 2019, An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, T.D., the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, T.D., and the Minister for Local Government and Electoral Reform, John Paul Phelan, T.D., visited the Abbey Quarter site to mark the official sod turning of this phase of the Abbey Quarter project.

Hear more about recent progress, the Taoiseach and the Ministers’ turning of the sod, the local reaction to work starting and the next tasks facing some of those involved.

Abbey Quarter Project, Kilkenny

Public Realm Spaces

The URDF is funding significant public realm areas in the Abbey Quarter. Why do cities need public realm areas?

“Public realm spaces are, in actual fact, the lifeblood of a city,” says Mark Kennedy, one of the project’s architects. “When we’re designing new cities’ spaces, people tend to think of public space as negative spaces left behind after the building. But in actual fact they’re the most important spaces that you look to create when you’re forming a new, urban quarter.”