In 1192, the English appear to have settled themselves firmly at this place; and in 1195, William Le Mareschal, who had succeeded to Strongbow's possessions, rebuilt the castle on a larger scale and restored the town, which became one of the principal residences of his successors and the head of the palatinate of Kilkenny. About this time arose that portion of the present town which is more especially called Kilkenny, and which was more immediately connected with the castle, in contradistinction to the original town on the opposite bank of a small river flowing into the Nore, called Irishtown. Each had its separate and independent municipal government, the former under the lords of the castle, and the latter under the bishops of Ossory, who ceded a portion of it to William Le Mareschal, by whom the burgesses of Kilkenny were incorporated and endowed with many privileges, among which was exemption from toll in all his territories of Leinster.

Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester and Hereford, marrying a daughter of William Le Mareschal, obtained as her dower the county of Kilkenny, which subsequently passed by marriage again to Hugh, grandfather of Thomas Le Spencer, from whom it was purchased by James Butler, third Earl of Ormonde. A great council of the barons of the English pale was held here in 1294; and in 1309 a parliament assembled at this place, in which severe laws were enacted against such of the English settlers as should adopt the Irish customs; and anathemas against all who should infringe them were denounced in the cathedral by the Archbishop of Cashel and other prelates who assisted on that occasion. In 1317, Lord Roger Mortimer, justiciary of Ireland, and the English nobles, held a council here to deliberate on the most effectual means of opposing the ravages of Edward Bruce; and an army of 30,000 men was assembled, and great numbers of families sought refuge in the town under the general alarm. Parliaments were held here in 1327 and 1330, when an army assembled here to drive Brien O'Brien from Urkuffs, near Cashel; in 1331 a parliament was adjourned to this place from Dublin, and in 1341 a grand meeting of the principal nobility took place, assisted by the chief officers of the king's cities, to petition for the better government of Ireland. Parliaments were also held in 1347, 1356, and 1367, at which last, held before Lionel, Duke of Clarence, the celebrated statute of Kilkenny was enacted; and also in 1370 and 1374, in which latter Sir William de Windsor was sworn into the office of Lord-Lieutenant.

Letters patent were granted in 1375 to the burgesses, and renewed in 1384, authorising them to appropriate certain customs for building and repairing the walls; and in 1399, Richard II., on his progress through the south of Ireland, arrived from Waterford at this place, where he was entertained for fourteen days by the Earl of Ormonde. Robert Talbot, a kinsman of the earl's, in 1400, encompassed the greater portion of the town with walls; and in 1419 the townsmen received a grant of tolls for murage. During the contest between the houses of York and Lancaster, the town was taken and plundered by the Earl of Desmond, who was an adherent of the latter; and in 1499 the burgesses, headed by their sovereign, marched out in aid of the Butlers against Tirlagh O'Brien, but were defeated.

The last parliament held in the town was held in 1536, and was adjourned to Cashel; but this place still continued to be the occasional residence of the lords-lieutenant, and the chief seat of their government, for which purpose Henry VIII. granted to the corporation the site and precincts of the Black friars' monastery, on condition of their furnishing certain accommodation free of expense to the chief governor of Ireland, when in Kilkenny; from which they were subsequently released on payment of a fine of £70. Sir Peter Carew, in his progress to resist the aggressions of the Butlers and Desmonds, in 1568, took possession of the town, which was soon after invested by Fitz-Maurice, brother of Desmond; but the spirited conduct of the garrison compelled him to retire.

In the parliamentary war of 1641 this place was distinguished as the theatre of contention; it was seized by Lord Mountgarret, and in the following year a general synod of the Catholic clergy was held here, and a meeting of deputies from the confederate Catholics from all parts of the kingdom took place in the house of Mr. R. Shee, in the present coal market. The lords, prelates, and commons all sat in the same chamber; and the clergy who were not qualified to sit as barons assembled in convocation in another house; and a press was erected in the city, at which were printed all the decrees of the synod. On the arrival of Rinuncini, the Pope's nuncio, the city and suburbs were placed under an interdict, for accepting the peace which had been concluded at this meeting; and in 1648 a plot was discovered for betraying the city and the supreme council into the hands of the nuncio and the party of O'Nial. Cromwell, relying on the promises of an officer of the garrison, advanced before the city though unprepared to besiege it, in the hope of obtaining it by treachery; but the plot was discovered and the agent executed. Having, however, received large reinforcements under Ireton, he again appeared before it on the 23d of March, 1650, and commenced a regular siege; the garrison, originally consisting of 200 horse and 1000 foot, but reduced by the plague to 300, made a resolute defence under Sir Walter Butler, who had been appointed governor by Lord Castlehaven, but was at length compelled to surrender upon honourable terms.

Kilkenny, City of | Kilkenny History | Kilkenny Topography | Kilkenny Manufactures | Kilkenny Charter | See of Ossory | Kilkenny Parishes | Kilkenny Schools | Kilkenny Hospitals | Kilkenny Residences | Kilkenny Churches | Kilkenny, County of

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