Kilkenny's rich medieval heritage is evident in the
city's treasure trove of historical buildings and
landmarks, exemplified by the magnificent Kilkenny
Castle. Kilkenny is arguably the pre-eminent
medieval city in Ireland, with the current layout of
the city clearly grounded in the city's medieval
However, the city's origins predate the medieval
landmarks existing today. Saint Canice founded a
monastic settlement in Kilkenny in the sixth
century, unfortunately the sole remaining landmark
from this settlement is the round tower positioned
alongside the cathedral.
Strongbow, the legendary Norman invader, built a
fort in the twelfth century on the site where
Kilkenny Castle stands today. Subsequent to this
event, William Marshall (Strongbow's son-in-law and
Earl of Pembroke) oversaw the building and
maintenance of fortified city walls thus
consolidating the Norman's position of power in the
However, it wasn't until the seventeenth century
that Kilkenny really entered its golden age. The
parliament known as the Confederation of Kilkenny
was founded in 1641. One of the parliament's main
objectives was to unite resistance against English
persecution of Irish Catholics. With the emergence
of this parliament, Kilkenny entered a period of
unparalleled success. Over time, however, the
influence of the Confederation of Kilkenny
diminished. Oliver Cromwell's arrival in Kilkenny
heralded the dissolution of the parliament, and the
city never quite regained the prosperity it had
previously been celebrated for.
Fast-tracking to the present, it is important to
note that a substantial portion of the landmarks
illustrating Kilkenny's medieval past still exist.
Allied to this historical heritage, it is important
to recognise that the city prides itself on its
lively cultural scene, with important events hosted
annually in the city. These events include the Arts
Week Festival in the last two weeks of August, and
the Cats Laughs Festival at the beginning of June.
During the Arts Week Festival a variety of classical
music events take place, along with art exhibitions,
literary reading, jazz & folk sessions, and so on.
At the Cats Laughs Festival, celebrated comedians
from throughout the world perform in the city's
clubs, pubs and theatres.
All in all, a visit to Kilkenny is a richly
rewarding experience with a variety of interesting
places to see and things to do.