A couple of years ago I wandered down an old, narrow street in Kilkenny City, Ireland and saw a pub sign featuring an arched-back, black “Halloween” cat. Naturally that tripped my witchy senses, so I went up for a closer look, and saw that “Kyteler’s” was the name on the sign. “No freaking way!” I said to myself, excited, because that could only mean this was the pub formerly owned by Dame Alice Kyteler, and I’d just found it completely by accident. My inner history nerd was doing cartwheels.
Dame Alice became famous—or infamous—in 1324 for being the first person recorded as being accused of witchcraft in Ireland. Unlike many other accused, Dame Alice was wealthy. She was also on her fourth husband, and had been suspected of bumping off at least one of the previous ones. Alice used her influence, family ties, and money to forestall her trial as long as she could, but she eventually fled to England to avoid persecution and had to give up the pub and her other properties.
Naturally, I had to have lunch at the pub. The atmosphere still has its medieval vibe (in a “it feels like I’ve stepped back in time” way, not a “everything smells musty” way) the food is better than standard pub grub, and the staff were very friendly and told me some great stories about Alice. There’s a mannequin of Alice with her cauldron inside, and the story is on the wall. The mannequin is kind of cheesy, but it adds to the fun. Some people say Dame Alice’s spirit still hangs out in the pub, too.