Introducing Castlecomer & Around
Castlecomer is on the gentle River Dinin, some 18km north of Kilkenny. The town became a centre for anthracite mining after the fuel was discovered nearby in 1636; the mines closed for good in the mid-1960s. The anthracite, a very hard form of coal, contains very little sulphur and produces almost no smoke.
Coal-mining exhibits are set among lush woodlands at the Castlecomer Discovery Park, including some ancient fossils predating dinosaurs found here.
About 10km southwest of Castlecomer is Swifte's Heath, home to Jonathan Swift during his school years in Kilkenny. The 'e' was evidently dropped from the name before the satirist gained notoriety as the author of Gulliver's Travels and A Modest Proposal.
Bus Éireann has five buses daily to Kilkenny (€5, 20 minutes).