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County Kilkenny

County Kilkenny is a landlocked county in Ireland. The county takes its name from the city of Kilkenny and has a population of 87,558.

It is located in the south-east of the island of Ireland in the province of Leinster and has borders with the counties of Laois, Carlow, Wexford, Waterford and Tipperary.

The River Nore flows through the county and the River Suir forms the border with County Waterford. Brandon Hill is the highest point with an Elevation of 515 m (1,690 ft).

The current county formed part of the Kingdom of Osraige and ecclesiastical Diocese of Ossory.


County Kilkenny takes its name from the county capital the city of Kilkenny. Kilkenny, retains the the anglicised version of the Irish Cill Chainnigh, which translates as Church of Cainneach or Canice. This most probability relating the church and round tower, now St. Canice's Cathedral, which was built in honor to St. Canice.

A Neolithic house was identifed in Granny near Waterford, making it the oldest house in County Kilkenny. The square house consisted of slot-trenches, internal floor surfaces, a hearth and wooden posts at each corner, one of the post-holes was radiocarbon-dated to 3997-3728 BC. A new form of early neolithic pottery with a lip around the inside of the rim were found. This Granny pottery is is similar to pottery found in the south-east of England.

Three qualities of County Kilkenny are said to be;

ground without bog, fire without smoke, land without coast.
These references are to the small amount of bogland, the anthracite coal from Castlecomer and the minimal exposure of the county to salt water.

County Kilkenny formed part of the Kingdom of Osraige, which existed from at least the 2nd century until the 13th century A.D. The current ecclesiastical dioceses of that area is still known as Ossory however the original kingdom was bounded by two of the Three Sisters the rivers Barrow and Suir and the northern limit was, generally, the Slieve Bloom Mountains.

With the arrival of Christianity in Kilkenny many monasteries were built.


The county located in the south-west of Leinster and is bordered by Laois, Carlow, Wexford, Waterford and Tipperary.

The county contains the city of Kilkenny, located at the center of the county, and the towns of Ballyragget, Callan, Castlecomer, Graiguenamanagh to the north of the county and , Mooncoin and Thomastown to the south.

County Kilkenny contains two major rivers the River Nore and the River Suir. The River Nore flows through Ballyragget, Kilkenny City and the villages of Bennettsbridge, Thomastown and Inistioge. The River Suir forms the border between County Waterford and County Kilkenny.

Brandon Hill is the highest point in the county with an Elevation of 515 m (1,690 ft).



Weather data was recorded by Met Éireann at a Kilkenny Weather Station until 2008, weather for the area is now recorded at Carlow Weather Station. Weatherwise County Kilkenny is generally representative of wide river valleys in the region with low temperatures on cloudless nights. Overall, the county has a mild, but changeable, oceanic climate with few extremes. Kilkenny is significant in that it records some of the highest summer and lowest winter temperatures in Ireland.

The highest air temperature ever recorded in Ireland, , was at Kilkenny Castle on 26 June 1887. The maximum daily rainfall recorded at Kilkenny station was on 17 July 1983. The highest wind gust, 77 knots (from a South-west direction, i.e. 200 degrees), was recorded on 12 January 1974. The maximum daily sunshine was 16.3 hours on 18 June 1978. The warmest and sunniest month on record at Kilkenny was August 1995 with a total of 274.9 hours sunshine and very high temperatures throughout. The maximum temperature recorded was on 2 August 1995. Extremes recorded at the Kilkenny Met Station include the Highest Air Temperature of on 29 June 1976, the lowest air temperature of on 2 January 1979 and the lowest ground temperature of on 12 January 1982.

Protected areas

Fiddown Island is 62.6 (ha.) a Nature Reserve established in 1988. It consists of a long narrow island of marsh/woodland on the River Suir. It is covered in willow scrub and bordered by reed swamps - the only known site of its type in Ireland.

In 2005 Coan Bogs was defined as a Natural Heritage Area under section 18 of the Wildlife Act 2000. The blanket bog consists of two small areas of upland blanket bog located near Castlecomer in the townlands of Coan East and Smithstown. Bedrock geology for both areas is shale overlain locally by glacial till and blanket bog vegetation is well developed.

Other Special Areas of Conservation include Hugginstown Fen south-west of Ballyhale, The Loughans near Urlingford, Cullahill Mountain on the Castlecomer plateau near Johnstown, Spahill Hill And Clomantagh Hill which forms part of an escarpment which links the Slieve Ardagh Hills with the Castlecomer Plateau,, Galmoy Fen north of Johnstown, Lower River Suir south of Thurles, the freshwater stretches of the Barrow/River Nore and Thomastown Quarry.

Gardens in County Kilkenny include Kilfane Glen in Thomastown, Woodstock Garden in Inistioge, the Discover Park in Castlecomer, Darver House garden in Jenkinstown, Coolcashin Garden near Johnstown, Emoclew Garden in Goresbridge, Shankill Gardens & Castle in Paulstown, Rothe Family Garden in Kilkenny, Dahlia garden in The Rower and the rose garden at Kilkenny Castle.



Flora in County Kilkenny includes the endangered Autumn Crocus as well as rare species such as the Bog Orchid, the Killarney Fern and the Tufted Salt-marsh Grass. There are also vulnerable species like Lesser Snapdragon, Meadow Barley, Small-white Orchid, Opposite-leaved Pondweed, Betony, Red Hemp Nettle, Narrow-leaved Helleborine, Lanceolate Spleenwort, Annual Knawel and Basil Thyme

Fauna in County Kilkenny includes Hedgehogs, Otters, Leisler's bats, Daubenton's bat , the Brown long-eared bat and the Common Pipistrelle. There is also Sika deer, Fallow deer, Stoat , Red Squirrel and Pygmy Shrew.

Administrative divisions


County Kilkenny is located in the province of Leinster.

Villages and Towns


The county is also divided into subdivisions called baronies, which are made up of a number of parishes or parts of parishes. Both civil parishes and baronies are now largely obsolete (except for some purposes such as legal transactions involving land) and are no longer used for local government purposes.

Baronies in County Kilkenny:

  1. [[Callan, County Kilkenny|Callan]
  2. Crannagh
  3. Fassadinin
  4. Galmoy
  5. Gowran
  6. Ida
  7. Iverk
  8. Kells
  9. Kilculliheen
  10. Kilkenny City
  11. Knocktopher
  12. Shillelogher

The civil parishes are divided into townlands.

From the 17th to mid-19th centuries civil parishes were based on early Christian and medieval monastic and church settlements. As the population grew, new parishes were created and the civil parish covered the same area as the established Church of Ireland. The Roman Catholic Church adapted to a new structure based on towns and villages. There 2,508 civil parishes in Ireland, which frequently break both barony and county boundaries.


As of the 2006 census, by the Central Statistics Office, County Kilkenny's population was 87,558. There were 35,669 Irish speakers as of 2006. There were 39,809 people currently working in County Kilkenny and 4,133 people on the live register as of August 2008. There were 1,251 births and 546 deaths in 2007. Disposable household income per person as of 2005 was 18,032 euros and the index of disposable household was 89.4.

The main religion is Catholic, however there are Church of Ireland, Presbyterian, Methodist, Jewish and other religious traditions living in Kilkenny


The local government in County Kilkenny is Kilkenny County Council. County Kilkenny is in the South-East regional authority of Ireland and is part of the Carlow-Kilkenny Dáil Éireann constituency.

Local government bodies in Kilkenny have responsibility for such matters as planning, roads, sanitation and libraries. It is governed by the Local Government Acts, the most significant of which was in 2001.Kilkenny County Council which has 26 elected councilors

Kilkenny has been represented through several parliamentary constituencies in the past. From 1918–1921 Kilkenny was part of the North Kilkenny United Kingdom Parliamentary constituency. In 1921 the Carlow-Kilkenny Dáil Éireann constituency was created and has stayed apart from between 1937 and 1948 when there was just a Kilkenny constituency.



Round tower

One feature not usually found outside Ireland is the round tower, such as that at St. Canice's Cathedral in Kilkenny. They were possibly defensive in nature, serving as lookout posts and a place of refuge during an attack (the door to such structures was usually quite high off the ground). Viking raids on Ireland's shores and monasteries were relatively common. There are round towers situated around the county in Tullaherin round tower, near Bennettsbridge, Kilree near Kells, Fertagh near Johnstown and Aghaviller near Knocktopher.


Kilkenny Castle is a castle in Kilkenny. It was the seat of the Butler family. Formerly the family name was FitzWalter. The castle was sold to the local Castle Restoration Committee in the middle of the 20th century for £50. Shortly afterwards it was handed over to the State, and has since been refurbished and is open to visitors. Part of the National Art Gallery is on display in the castle. There are ornamental gardens on the city side of the castle, and extensive land and gardens to the front. It has become one of the most visited tourist sites in Ireland.

Foulksrath Castle is a 15th century Anglo-Norman tower house located in Jenkinstown in County Kilkenny. It was built by the Purcell clan, who also constructed several others nearby. After over three centuries as owners, the family was reduced to living as peasants in the castle stables after it was confiscated by Oliver Cromwell and given to his officers after the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland.


In Medieval Ireland many fine churches in Ireland were also built during this time, such as St. Canice's Cathedral in Kilkenny and St. Mary's Cathedral.

St. Lachtain's Church, Freshford was built in 1731, incorporating a portal from 1100 as its main entrance, all that is left of the original church is the beautiful Hiberno-Romanesque (Irish-Roman) architectural porch and doorway. The remainder of the present church was built for Protestant worship in 1731. In St. Lachtains time Freshford was a diocese. In 1225 a Bishops palace was built at Aghore (Achadh Ur), now Uppercourt. It was used as a summer residence for over 300 years.


Jerpoint Abbey is a Cistercian abbey near Thomastown. It was constructed in 1180, probably on the site of an earlier Benedictine monastery built in 1160 by Domnall Mac Gilla Patraic, King of Osraige. Jerpoint is notable for its stone carvings, including one at the tomb of Felix O'Dulany, Bishop of the Diocese of Ossory when the abbey was founded.

Duiske Abbey in Graiguenamanagh founded in 1204 was one of the first and largest Cistercian monasteries in Ireland. What remains of the monastery is a large gothic church which beautifully dominates the town centre in Graiguenamanagh. The abbey derives its name from the river Duiske or Dúbh Uisce which flows through the town on its way to the river Barrow which also flows through this pretty town. Original floor tiles from the original building can be seen in the abbey along with the beautiful gothic and romanesque architecture.

The Black Abbey in Kilkenny, founded 1225, is a Dominican abbey with two-bay double-height lean-to lower aisle to south. It was extended, c.1325, with four-bay double-height transept to south having four-bay double-height lean-to lower aisle to west.


Kells Priory is one of the largest medieval historic monuments in Ireland. It is a National Monument and is in the guardianship of the Commissioners of Public Works. The priory is scenically situated alongside King's River, about fifteen kilometres south of Kilkenny. One of its most striking feature is a collection of medieval tower houses spaced at intervals along and within walls which enclose a site of just over three acres. These give the priory the appearance more of a fortress than of a place of worship and from them comes its local name of "Seven Castles".


The Callan Augustinian Friary is situated in Callan. It is known locally as the "Abbey Meadow" and is located at the North East of the town on the banks of the Kings Rover. Edmund Butler of Pottlerath, a noted patron of literature, successfully petitioned Pope Pius II for the foundation of the friary in 1461. After Edmund died in 1462, the actual buildings were erected by his son, James, probably after 1467 when he received a papal dispensation to marry his concubine, to whom he was related.

Visitor Attractions

Dunmore Caves is a limestone cave in Ballyfoyle has tourist centre has been established at the site. The cave consistes of a series of chambers formed over millions of years.

Jenkinstown Park is about north of the city of Kilkenny and south of Castlecomer off the N78 road. Facilities include a picnic site, forest walks, deer park and a craft centre. A small garden to commemorate Thomas Moore's association with the house has been laid down on the site of the old house. Walks of are available through a mixed broadleaf and conifer plantation.



Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail) provides rail services from Dublin to Waterford which pass through MacDonagh Station in Kilkenny and Thomastown railway station. Waterford railway station is located just inside County Kilkenny.

Bus Éireann provide bus services throughout the county.

Kilkenny Airport is a small airport located just 1.5NM West of Kilkenny City. There are 6 powered resident aircraft and two gliders based at the aerodrome.


In Kilkenny, there is a gerneral hospital is St. Luke's, a private hospital Aut Even and St. Canice's Psychiatric Hospital. Lourdes Regional Orthopaedic Hospital is outside the city in Kilcreene. In Castlecomer there is Castlecomer District Hospital.



In hurling, the dominant sport in the county, Kilkenny compete annually in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship, which they have won thirty-one times, the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship, which they have won sixty-four times, and the National Hurling League, which they have won thirteen times. Kilkenny, along with Cork and Tipperary, are regarded as 'the Big Three' in the world of hurling. Brian Cody has been manager of the Kilkenny senior hurling team since 1998. The current senior hurling captain is James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick.

The Kilkenny flag or county colours are black and amber. The County Kilkenny hurling team, Tullaroan, were the first Kilkenny team to wear the famous black and amber colours. In 1886, after winning the first-ever county championship in Kilkenny they held a fund-raising event in Tullaroan to provide the team with a playing strip. After intensive debate and consultations the club chose the black and amber stripes as the design for the jerseys that they would wear against Limerick that August.

Horse racing

Gowran Park is a horse racing course near Gowran. The first meeting was held in 1914 and the racecourse hosts 16 race days throughout the year including the Thyestes Chase (The Grand National of the South), one of the prestigious steeplechases in Ireland which has been won by three time Cheltenham Gold Cup Winner, Arkle in 1964 and Aintree Grand National winners Hedgehunter and Numbersixvalverde. It has 16 National Hunt and Flat meetings all year round.


Notable people

See also



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External links

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