Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle

Fri 3 Apr (Good Friday) - Kilkenny

The town of Kilkenny occupies an important place in Irish history. The Anglo-Normans recognised the strategic importance of the location, and had established fortifications by 1173 (ie within 4 years of first landing), our friend Strongbow (Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke) being involved, of course. The first stone castle, some of which remains, was completed in 1213.

Over time, the Normans who had arrived in Ireland from 1169 onwards were becoming "more Irish than the Irish". In 1361, Edward III sent the Duke of Clarence over as Viceroy to rectify matters.

The main outcome was the Statutes of Kilkenny, a batch of legislation passed by a parliament summoned by Clarence in 1366. The problem, as described in the preamble, was that "now many English of the said land, forsaking the English language, manners, mode of riding, laws and usages, live and govern themselves according to the manners, fashion, and language of the Irish enemies; and also have made divers marriages and alliances between themselves and the Irish enemies aforesaid; whereby the said land, and the liege people thereof, the English language, the allegiance due to our lord the king, and the English laws there, are put in subjection and decayed..."

[The intended remedies in the Statutes proved ineffectual, and it was not until April 1603 that the English could be said to be in control of the whole Ireland. That was when Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone (aka The Great Earl or The O'Neill) surrendered to Elizabeth I, or so he thought - unknown to him, Elizabeth had died at the end of March.]

From 1391, Kilkenny Castle became the stronghold of the Butler dynasty, Earls of Ormonde, one of the most powerful families in the land for the next five centuries, especially when Lady Margaret Butler married Sir William Boleyn and their grand-daughter ultimately became the second wife of Henry VIII.

To cut a long story slightly shorter, the Butlers lived in Kilkenny Castle until 1935, when they sold the contents and moved to London. In 1967 they "sold" the dilapidated building to the Irish government for a nominal £ 50, and the state has done an absolutely magnificent job of restoration.

Unfortunately no photography was allowed inside the Castle, but you may be able to glean some more information from their web site (click here), from which the picture on the right is purloined - you can get some idea of the grandeur of the Long Gallery.


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