Ridley: I was in Kyteler’s Inn in Kilkenny at the weekend, it’s one of my favourite places in the city to visit, I always get the breaded chicken with garlic butter for lunch. Yummers! I also always spend my meal chewing and staring around at all the different bits and bobs lining the walls and shelves; rusted trombones, old jars, flags, plates and impressive wrought iron chandeliers. Not to mention the fake witch huddling over a cauldron in the hearth of a massive fire place, over to the side. (She gave me a fright the very first time I saw her!)
The best thing about Kyteler’s Inn, other than the food, is the story behind it. It’s a really old stone house, in the style of an old merchant’s building or a tavern, and its final owner was accused of witchcraft. This accusation was one of the very first in Europe. Lady Alice Kyteler managed to get away, though her servant was caught. She was forced into a fake confession, implicating Alice and then she was burned at the stake.
Another really interesting point, Lady Kyteler is mentioned in the poem, Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen by William Butler Yeats, which makes reference to these accusations.
There were various reasons for these charges. Alice Kyteler was married four times; each of her husbands died, there were rumours all through these marriages that she was poisoning them.
Spreading and listening to these stories, the children and relatives of her husbands accused her of murder. It was also said she was a very good looking woman, who could ensnare men with her charms and manipulated them into lavishing her with gifts. Unnatural looks and unnatural charms, possibly due to magic spells, everyone whispered.
There was also major resentment within the community from her involvement as a money-lender; she was supposedly quite ruthless.
So we are left wondering whether she had any allies, though she must have done as she managed to escape to England and never stand trial.
When you visit the inn now, her story is on the menu, so if you go there, not only can you order the garlic butter covered breaded chicken but you read all about Alice for yourself!