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The Ireland List
Irish County Colours - Kilkenny


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County Kilkenny

The central part of County Kilkenny is undulating limestone plain, bordered in some areas by gently sloping hills. In the north are the attractive uplands of the Castlecomer district and the Slieveardagh hills and Booley hills extend across the County Tipperary boarder on the west. There are many pleasant landscapes, especially in the Rivers Nore and Barrow valleys, and the historic county town has numerous points of interest Kilkenny is also excellent sporting country, with good opportunities for hunting, angling, shooting and golf. Kilkenny City, was home to one of Ireland's most influential Norman families, the Butlers of Ormonde, who founded the town on an existing Irish settlement, at the confluence of the rivers the Barrow, the Nore and the Suir The city of Kilkenny boasts Ireland's most preserved Medieveal town centre, and the Castle and Cathedral which dominate the town are gems of Irish architecture. The county has numerous ancient sites including Iron Age fortifications, inscribed stones and crosses, castles, and abbeys. It became a part of Leinster province in 1210. Kilkenny also has the distinction of having its own indigenous marble (jet black) and its own adopted animal, the Kilkenny Black Cat! The team colors of Kilkenny, the vertical Black & Amber stripes strike awe and fear in opposing players on the Hurling field, their county past-time.

Kilkenny Castle - Butler Gallery Frank Kavanagh, Kilkenny, Kilkenny. Kilkenny is one of the most attractive and quaint of the inland towns of Ireland, and the considerable number of medieval monuments it contains help to preserve its medieval atmosphere. Originally the site of a monastery set up by St. Cainneach, its importance really began when William the Marshall built the first stone castle of Kilkenny in the early years of the 13th century. The castle was bought in 1391 by James Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormond, and under his successors the town grew to be one of considerable note, and the seat of the Irish Confederates in 1645. The Castle: Strongbow probably built a motte here shortly after he gained possession of the land in 1172. In 1204 William the Marshall built the first stone castle on the same site. Its shape - square with rounded turrets at the corners - has still been largely preserved despite a number of reconstructions blotting out all veiw of the original castle. The castle retained much of its original form until the first Duke of Ormonde altered it in the 1660s, but the present exterior is largely due to a 19th century reconstruction. There is a fine classical gateway in the west wall dating to 1684, and one wing of the present castle is an Art Gallery designed by Woodward in the last century. In the old castle stables on the opposite side of the road is the Kilkenny Design Workshop. Rothe House: Situated in Parliament Street, not far from the fine 18th century Tholsel, this Elizabethan house was built by John Rothe in 1594 and is the best preserved rich merchants house of an Irish medieval town. Its front ground floor is arcaded, and the first second floors, with their mullioned windows, house the museum of the Kilkenny Archaeological Society. The roof of the second floor has been expertly restored. A vaulted passage leads from the street into a courtyard (from whence entrance to the museum) and behind this is a second house which was the home of the Kilkenny Branch of the Gaelic League for some time. Behind this house is a second courtyard and a third house which has not been restored. St. Canice's Cathedral: this beautifully kept Cathedral occupies the site of an earlier church which was burned in 1085 and again in 1114. The cathedral, with nave, choir and two transepts, was begun by Bishop Hugh de Mapilton (1251-6) and was probably finished by 1280. Most of the existing Cathedral dates to the thirteenth century, though the tower was added in the 14th century after the original tower had fallen in 1332, and considerable restorations were carried out in 1863-4. In the chancel are three sets of three lancet windows. An unusual feature of the church is a gallery under the west window; there is also a fine but simple west doorway. The glories of the Cathedral include one of the finest collections of 16th and 17th century tombstones, including that of James Shortal (1508) by O'Tunney. There is also a good 13th century baptismal font. To the south of the church stands the Round Tower which has lost its conical roof. The tower may be climbed on payment of a small fee St. Francis' Friary: This Franciscan friary was founded by Richard the Marshal around 1232. it was given a royal grant in 1245, but the only part of the building dating from this period is the choir. However, the choir was further extended in 1321, and during the course of this extension the graceful and unusual 7-light east window was built. The tall and slender tower, which includes pleasant sculptural details such as the figures supporting the arches, is one of the earliest of the Franciscan towers in Ireland. There is a Gothic baptismal font in a niche at the base of the tower. A chapel or sacristy, and some remains of the domestic buildings of the Friary were situated to the south of the church and now form part of the buildings of Smithwick's brewery. Black Friars' Church: This church was founded for the Dominicans probably soon after 1226 and dedicated to the Holy Trinity. Four general chapters of the Irish province of the order were held here. During the Black Death in 1349 eight friars died in one day. It was suppressed in 1541, but was repaired again by the Dominicans in 1643 though abandoned once more shortly afterwards. it now serves as a Catholic church. The chancel of the old church has disappeared, and the present church consists of the nave and south transept of the old church. The nave dates to the 13th century; the transept was added in the 14th century, while new windows were inserted and the tower added in the 15th century. Note the medieval alabaster statue of the Trinity and the crude statue of St. Dominic in the nave. St. John' Priory: This Priory was founded by William Marshal the younger of the Canons Regular of St. Augustine in the first quarter of the 13th century. The choir is the only considerable part of the church remaining; it contains a mutilated double effigy tomb dating from about 1500. It is noted for its twin 3-light windows in the east wall with its capitals carved with heads. The Lady Chapel to the south which was built in the 14th century and rebuilt in 1817 is still used for divine worship, and it had so many windows that it was known as the 'Lantern of Ireland'. In 1780 most of the priory and the church was demolished to make way for a military barracks.

Opening Times: April/May: Daily: 10.30 - 17.00 hrs June/September: Daily: 10.00 - 19.00 hrs October/March Tuesday to Saturday: 10.30 - 12.45 hrs 14.00 - 17.00 hrs Sundays: 11.00 - 12.45 hrs 14.00 - 17.00 hrs Last admissions - 1 hour before closing. Rates: Group Adults: IR2.00 Child/Studnet: IR1.25
Adults: IR3.00 Family: IR7.50

Butler Castle, Ballyragget, Kilkenny.

The well preserved tower and bawn in the town is the Butler Castle. In the 16th century the castle was the principal seat of this vibrant Norman-Irish family of far ranging and far reaching connections. The 3rd Viscount was President of the Supreme Council of the Confederation of Kilkenny. The castle remained in Butler possession until 1788 when it passed to the MacMurrough Kavanaghs of Borris Castle. During the rebellion of 1798 it was utilised as a British army base. The Archbishop of Cashel the author of the well known Butler Catechism, Most Rev. Dr. James Butler (1742-91), was born here.

Burnchurch Castle Kilkenny, Kilkenny.

This is a 15th or 16th century castle built by the Burnchurch branch of the FitzGerald family. It is 6 storeys high, and has an unusually large number of passages and chambers inside the walls. There is a 'secret chamber' off the 4th floor and a fireplace and round chimney (the latter possibly a later addition) on the top floor. A walled courtyard was originally attached to the castle, and of this the 41 foot high circular turret near the castle still remains. The castle was last occupied in 1817.

Duiske Abbey and Abbey Centre Graiguenamanagh, Kilkenny. Duiske is a fine example of an early Cistercian Abbey ( AD 1204). Many fine Lancet windows and featuring the large effigy of a Norman Knight In the nearby Abbey Centre, on exhibition are contemporary Christian Art and Local historic artifacts. Guided tours are available.

Price : Offerings Invited. Opening Hours: All year: Weekday 10am - 5pm,
Sat -
Sun 2pm - 5pm.

Kilree Church, Kilkenny, Kilkenny.

A 96 foot high Round Tower, missing original conical top, dominates this old monastic site whose early history is unknown. Near it stands a ruined church with flat-headed doorway and antae. The chancel and the rounded arch are later additions. The church may have been put to secular use in the 17th century tomb. In a field to the west stands a much work High Cross, possibly of 9th century date. Much of the cross is decorated with geometrical motifs. On the east face are representations of stag-hunting and a chariot, but the four figured panels on the end of the south arm of the cross are difficult to interpret. The Adoration of the Magi may be present on the west face.


Callan, in the centre of a fertile plain, is an ancient market town which was strongly fortified in medieval times. Corporate rights were granted to the town in 1271. In 1408 there was a battle here in which the Prince of Ossory and 800 of his men were slain by the English. There are some remains of the fifteenth-century Augustinian priory founded by Sir James Butler, and traces of the castle which was bombarded by Cromwell in 1650. In the main street stands a handsome memorial in Kilkenny limestone to Edmund Ignatius Rice (1762-1844), founder of the Irish Christian Brothers. James Hoban, architect of the White House at Washington. D.C., was born near Callan in 1762. Robert Fulton, designer of the first steamship was born here in 1765.

Castlecomer: This attractive little town in the hilly northern part of Kilkenny lies in a wooded valley where the River Dinin is joined by a tributary from the west. Though the centre of the country's largest coalfield (now worked out) the neighbourhood has a scenic charm not usually associated with colliery areas. The district was once part of the terriority of the O' Brenans, who were finally dispossessed in the seventeenth century, but are still numerous in the area. A biennial Brennan family rally has been held here.


Graigenamanagh, east of Kilkenny on the Carlow border, has a fine situation at a bend of the River Barrow, overlooked by Brandon Hill (1694 feet) on the south. The approach to the town from the West gives beautiful views, with the long ridge of the Blackstairs Mountains in the background. Graiguenamanagh was at one time a place of ecclesiastical importance; it is now a prosperous market town. Salmon and trout fishing is available on the River Barrow and there is also excellent coarse fishing.


The central part of County Kilkenny is undulating limestone plain, bordered in some areas by gently sloping hills. In the north are the attractive uplands of the Castlecomer district, and the Slievardagh Hills and Booley Hills extend across the County Tipperary border on the west. There are many pleasant landscapes, especially in the Rivers Nore and Barrow valleys, and the historic county town has numerous points of interest Kilkenny is also 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.

Kilford Arms

Mr Pius Phelan, Kilkenny, Kilkenny . This is a unique kind of gathering place, ideal spot to meet a friend for a quiet drink or celebrate in a top class night club. Relaxed yet stylish- friendly and professional. Whether you need a quality menu in the restaurant or a lighter meal in the bar, you won‚?Tt be disappointed. Whatever your pleasure the Kilford is the perfect venue.

Fox & Goose Mr Martin & Patricia Roe, Clifden Clara, Kilkenny, Kilkenny This well known ‚?~road house‚?T, situated on the main Carlow/Dublin road just outside Kilkenny City is the perfect place to stop for Breakfast, Carvery Lunch or Evening Meal, 7 days a week, large or small groups catered for This charm laden Irish Pub has a lot to offer, clean facilities, friendly and efficient staff, ample car parking for coaches etc, with outdoor toilet and shower room available. Occasional music sessions.


This town, in beautiful surroundings in the Nore valley, is named after Thomas Fitzanthony Walsh, Seneschal of Leinster, who built a wall around it early in the thirteenth century and erected a castle. The castle was destroyed by Cromwell in 1650. There are some interesting monuments among the ruins of a large thirteenth-century church contains the old high altar of Jerpoint Abbey. MO< The Long Man of Kilfane Mr & Mrs Seamus & Margaret Keaney, Thomastown, Kilkenny. Cantwell Restaurant and Lounge Bar for food and drink with style and a touch of history. Situated on the Dublin Road (N9) on the outskirts of Thomastown. These premises are a landmark in the area with live music every weekend and an added advantage of a spacious car park. It is an ideal spot for coach tours or indeed anyone wishing to stop off. Look out for "The Long Man of Kilfane"

Urlingford: In Irish, Ath na nUrlaidhe, "the ford of the sledgings" according to O'Curry, where by tradition a battle was fought in the 10th century in which "the Irish and the Danes did sledge each other's heads". The ford from which the name of the pretty town is taken is marked by the bridge which crosses the River Gowl between the old parish church and the Butler Castle of Urlingford. The pre-formation church, though in a ruined condition, has substantially perfect walls. A large church stood here long before the 12th century; it fell into ruins but was restored in the 13th century. The town is one of the newest in Ireland dating only from 1755, the site being partly a cut-away bog. In 1801 an assessment of progress recorded that the town contained 176 houses of which 4 were uninhabited and 5 unfinished, a distillery and a malt house

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