County Kilkenny

Inland county in the province of Leinster.

 Stretching over 800 square miles, Kilkenny is a medium sized county, with a population of  over 80,000 people.

Geographically, the county is varied: the elevated Castlecomer plateau to the north, the Slieveardagh hills in the west and the hills in the south and east of the county. Through the two valleys flow the rivers Nore and Barrow which, like the sides of the letter V, join up at the bottom before flowing into the Celtic Sea below New Ross. The Barrow, which flows through Muine Bheag (Bagenalstown) and Glaignamanagh (with its splendidly restored Cistercian abbey), forms the western boundary with Carlow, while the Suir above Waterford partially defines the county’s southern boundary.

Kilkenny has an illustrious history: the Statute of Kilkenny (1366) prohibited Anglo-Normans from assimilating into Gaelic culture, and the Confederation of Kilkenny, an Assembly of Confederate Catholics (Gaelic Irish and Old English allies) held annual meetings here from 1642 to 1649.

The county and city of Kilkenny preserve the atmosphere of its medieval past. The county has a number of interesting and picturesque towns and villages but the crowning jewel is the city of Kilkenny itself, known affectionately as “the Marble City”, from the fossil-rich limestone that surrounds it, and which was used in many of its buildings.

The cathedral and Kilkenny Castle are perhaps the most famous of these. The 13th century cathedral is dedicated to St. Canice, or Cainnech, after whom (the Church of Canice) the city and county are named. The castle, founded by William the Marshal in 1967. Since then, Kilkenny Castle, along with its fine 19th century art gallery, has been open to the public.

Kilkenny City is synonymous with high quality design and craftsmanship. The Kilkenny Design Workshops, set up in the 1963 by the Irish Export Board, made the city into a center for innovative crafts, where many young artisans developed their skills in jewelery, pottery, weaving, and textile design.

Famous natives of the county include the philosopher George Berkeley; the sculptor Christopher Hewetson; Edmond Ignatius Rice, founder of the Irish Christian Brothers; the architect James Hoban who designed and built the White House in Washington; the scholar and editor John O’Donovan; the painter Tony O’Malley; and the writer Thomas Kilroy. The Kilkenny Arts Festival, which takes place annually in August, attracts international writers and artists.

Worth a visit on any Ireland tours…hopefully with Ireland Luxury Tours