KILKENNY, a city and, including Irishtown, a county of itself, and the seat of the diocese of Ossory, locally in the county of KILKENNY, of which it is the chief town, and in the province of LEINSTER, 24 miles (N. E. by N.) from Clonmel, and 57 ½ (S. W.) from Dublin, on the river Nore and the mail coach road to Cork; containing 23,741 inhabitants. This place is supposed by some writers to have derived its name from Coil or Kyle-Ken-Ni, "the wooded head, or hill, near the river;" and by others, with more probability, from the dedication of its church to St. Canice, on the removal of the ancient see of Ossory from Aghavoe to this place, about the year 1052, which had been originally founded at Saiger, now Seir-Keran, about 402.

Of the earlier history of the town little is recorded previously to 1173, when Donald O'Brien, King of Thomond, assembled his forces to dispossess the English invaders under Strongbow, who had established themselves and erected a fortress here soon after their landing in Ireland. On this occasion Strongbow retreated to Waterford, and abandoned the castle to the enemy, by whom, together with the town, it was demolished, and the surrounding country laid waste.

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