About Kilkenny - town and county


Kilkenny is finely situated on both banks of the River Nore. Its narrow winding streets and old buildings add an old-world aspect to a busy modern city. Kilkenny is an excellent sporting county, with good opportunities for hunting, angling, shooting and golf. Kilkenny is famous for its hurling teams; the ancient Irish game is regarded and practised almost as an artform in the county.


The city is named from the sixth-century church founded by St Canice. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Ossory in pre-Norman times, and after the invasion it passed into the hands of William le Mareschal, Strongbow's son-in-law. In 1391 the Earl ofOrmonde bought the lordship from Mareschal's descendants. Kilkenny was the venue of many parliamentsduring the fourteenth century, including that of 1366 which passed the infamous statute of Kilkenny. This statute made it high treason for Anglo-Norman to marry an Irishwoman; Irishmen were forbidden to live in a walled town; severe penalties were laid down for an Anglo-Norman who adopted the language, customs or dress of the Irish. The statute was rigoursly enforced, but it failed completely in its aim of stopping the absorption of the invaders into the Irish way of life.

The city's most glorious period was from 1642 to 1648. This was when the confederation of Kilkenny, which represented both the Old Irish and the Anglo-Irish Catholics, functioned as an independent Irish Parliament. In 1645 Archbishop Rinuccini arrived in the city as papal nuncio, bringing from Pope X arms for 6,000 men and £20,000. Later the confederation split into two camps, and the Anglo-Irish Party made a treaty with the English Viceroy. Rinuccini supported the Old Irish and their brilliant military leader, Owen Roe O'Neill, but the disunity within the confederation coupled with O'Neill's death led to inevitable defeat. In 1650, after several days of siege by Cromwell, a treaty was signed which allowed the Irish Army to march out from Kilkenny with full honours.


We have additional information on:
John Reid maintains some pages on Kilkenny Arts Week
to RTC Carlow
JB 23 th July 1996