A Spooky Occurrence in Kilkenny

Claire Nolan is the author of a novel called The Stone, Alice Kytler, the last witch of Ireland, a medieval tale of money, power, witchcraft, family, and death. Claire is originally from Kilkenny, the town where the subject of the book, Dame Alice Kyteler, was born. An infamous figure in her day, Dame Alice was accused of everything from murder, blasphemy, and sorcery. The Stone tells the story of a noble woman who disappeared without trace in 1324. Many believed Dame Alice had supernatural powers and that she poisoned several men, including three of her husbands.

You can listen to a podcast with Claire Nolan on The Writer’s Passage. The novel was adapted into a play, which met with local success. You can read about it here.

The Historical Setting
Kilkenny Castle III

Kilkenny Castle Photo by jpverkamp John-Paul Verkamp

In the 13th century on the banks of the River Nore, the town of Kilkenny, located in the center of County Kilkenny, was a Norman stronghold.

Dame Alice was the original owner of Kyteler’s Inn, a 13th century establishment still serving folks today in Kilkenny after it was saved from destruction in the 1960’s.


Photo by By byasoni

The inn is a popular gathering spot for both tourists and locals who enjoy the history, food, drinks, and live traditional music. But as with many sites in Ireland, there is a story or two to tell about Kyteler’s Inn.

Fiction Comes to Life

But sometimes the most creative authors cannot pen a tale more spooky than what happens in real life. I asked Claire about a painting that hangs in Kyteler’s Inn in Kilkenny.

Well, a gentleman by the name of Paddy Shaw, who works in New York, came across a reference to Alice in some records late at night in the Public Library. In 2003 he painted a picture of Alice Kyteler, and this was later exhibited in New York, as well as Japan. Eventually, he donated the painting to Kyteler’s Inn, in Kilkenny.

I started writing my novel in 2004, and it was published in 2008.  When the painting arrived in Kyteler’s, it made quite a fuss, as there was a feeling that the Alice depicted in the painting looked very much like me. The subject in the painting has pale skin and long red hair, and this would be a fair description of me. She also wears a long black velvet dress and I would in fact have done my readings in just such a dress. However, the Alice in the painting is very fierce looking, and I’m pleased to say that I don’t normally look like that!



More About Author Claire Nolan

“Claire Nolan is a 38year old woman who is originally from Kilkenny. She has always written, but only recently considered publication, and the history of her beautiful home town is an excellent place to start. Having learnt of the story of Alice Kyteler as a child, she decided in 2005 to write her own version of the story. The Stone is the result.

She lives and works in Dublin and is currently working on her second novel which will be about the Ladies Marathon, which takes place in Dublin in June of each year.

If you would like to contact Claire you can reach her at thestonenovel@gmail.com.

Cindy Thomson is the author of Celtic Wisdom and Brigid of Ireland. She enjoys exploring Irish history, especially the Early Christian period. She has written numerous articles on Irish genealogy. Visit her blog Celtic Voices and her web site where you can sign up for her monthly newsletter.


Author: Cindy

Share This Post On


  1. We were just at Kyteler’s Inn a few weeks ago. They serve a good pint, friendly staff and interesting decor.

    Post a Reply
  2. Claire,Will Keep an Eye out for your Book…Much Success..Susan In Vermont

    Post a Reply
  3. I want to go to Ireland so bad me ma and pa was from there .

    Post a Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

The Irish Fireside E-Newsletter features articles and links relating to Irish travel, storytelling, and culture.

* indicates required

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This