The Most Frequently Asked Questions About Kilkenny

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The Most Frequently Asked Questions About Kilkenny

The Most Frequently Asked Questions About Kilkenny

Tracing its lineage back to the 6th century, Kilkenny is a city that harbours an ancient past alongside a dynamic present. It’s no wonder there are stories waiting to be uncovered around every stone of the medieval settlement, evoking curiosity from visitors and residents alike. We decided to delve into some of the most common questions surrounding Marble City (including how it got this epithet) and reveal the answers you’ve been dying to know.

Q: Why is Kilkenny called the Marble City?

A: For hundreds of years, Kilkenny has been fondly nicknamed the Marble City. It got this endearing name due to its history in the production of black marble. This quickly became a profitable export for the city and was used not only in Ireland but all over Britain, which became one of its chief customers. This black marble (really limestone) was also used throughout the city itself. In Kilkenny, it was used for the facades of local buildings, on Green’s Bridge across the river Nore, and most notably, perhaps, on the footpaths across the city.

Q: What does Kilkenny mean in Irish?

A: Like many place names in Ireland, Kilkenny has its roots in the Irish language. Kilkenny is the anglicised form of Cill Chainnigh, which translates to the “Church of Cainnech” in honour of St. Cainneach (also known as St. Canice). Kilkenny itself was named after and established around St. Canice’s Cathedral, from which it took its name.

Q: How was Kilkenny Castle built?

Kilkenny Castle has a long, storied history spanning from the early 12th century through various reconstructions and changes in power. It is thought to have been originally constructed as a wooden fortification by the famous Norman knight Richard de Clare, more commonly known as ‘Strongbow.’ In 1260, records show that the first stone castle was completed on this site. In 1391, the castle was sold to the Butler family, who would hold it as their seat of power for 600 years until the 19th century. During this time, renovations and expansions were made based on inspiration from French châteaus and continual efforts to restore it to its former glory as it declined through the ages.

Q: What is Kilkenny famous for?

In addition to being known as the Marble City, Kilkenny is also known for its medieval history and structures, which are still intact today. Rich with stories, legends, and folktales, it’s a place that inspires creativity, and this can be seen in its abundance of crafts and designs proudly showcased throughout the city. Through the ages, Kilkenny also became a city synonymous with brewing expertise, and among the brewers standing over the river Nore, Smithwick’s is still a household name 300 years after its inception. Today, you can visit the Smithwick’s Experience in Kilkenny and enjoy some of their world-famous brews. Sensibly, of course.

Q: Why are people from Kilkenny called ‘Cats’?

The Kilkenny cats are a fabled pair of cats who fought one another so ferociously that nothing but their tails remained. Like many sayings, its true meaning has been lost to time or perhaps never widely known. But there are a few interpretations as to why this became synonymous with the people of Kilkenny. Perhaps the most widely held interpretation is that the people of Kilkenny are determined and unyielding in their determination. The full rhyme goes like this:

There once were two cats of Kilkenny,
Each thought there was one cat too many,
So they fought and they fit,
And they scratched and they bit,
Till, excepting their nails
And the tips of their tails,
Instead of two cats, there weren’t any.

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