For almost 60 years, Kilkenny Design has been showcasing the best Irish design and nurturing emerging makers around the country.
Kilkenny Design is proud to promote Ireland’s unique heritage, culture and creative talent by offering a carefully curated collection of designers across fashion, homeware, jewellery, kids, beauty and wellness – all with a story to tell. At Kilkenny Design, you will also find popular brands such as Waterford, Orla Kiely, Belleek and Newbridge Silverware as well as a host of popular made local brands such as The Handmade Soap Company, Enibas, VOYA and Foxford Woollen Mills.
Giving our customers the chance to find the perfect gift or something special for themselves and their families along with exceptional customer service is what we do best.
The group has 18 stores located around Ireland, including two Christy’s stores at tourist locations Cobh and Killarney – plus three cafes at their Shanagarry, Nassau St and Kilkenny Design Centre locations. Treat yourself to homemade artisan food, award-winning breakfasts, delicious lunches, and a mouth-watering range of freshly baked cakes and barista coffee.
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 and printing 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.
The products developed and sold at KDW became renowned for their design, aesthetics, craftsmanship, and advances in industrial design, and the name ‘Kilkenny’ became synonymous worldwide with good design.
Kilkenny Design has been run by Chairperson Marian O’Gorman and her family since 1999 when it was passed onto her from her father who also founded Blarney Woollen Mills. 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. In April 2021, Evelyn Moynihan was appointed as CEO of Kilkenny Design.
At a time of great uncertainty and business closures during the Covid-19 pandemic, Marian O’Gorman founded an initiative that would go on to touch the hearts of business owners and consumers across Ireland. Champion Green is the biggest support local movement in a generation. It is a national movement by government, industry, business, and the public, to inspire people to support local, to do business locally, and to source local products and services; in-person and online. The initiative is supported by Kilkenny Design and Visa, in association with Retail Excellence, Small Firms Association, Chambers Ireland, Maxol, and AIB Merchant Services. An Post, Snap Print and Aviva Life & Pensions are also long-standing corporate partners of the initiative.
Champion Green was widely reported in the media to have contributed to a +135% increase in shopping with Irish websites on Black Friday weekend in 2019 through its campaign to turn Black Friday ‘Green’. The Champion Green movement and annual Green Friday campaign continues to highlight the benefits of supporting local businesses to ensure our communities remain vibrant for future generations.