Kilkenny Castle (Caisleán Chill Chainnigh)

Kilkenny Castle


Location: Kilkenny, Kilkenny County Map

Constructed: 1195 by William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke


Kilkenny Castle is a medieval castle situated in a city of Kilkenny in Kilkenny County in Ireland. Kilkenny Castle was erected in 1195 by William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke.


Early Earls of Pembroke
On the strategically located hill on the shore of the Nore there was probably a fortification already before the 12th century. Kilkenny with the abbey of St. Canice was the headquarters of the local kings of Osraige from the Clan of the Mac Giolla Phádraig.

In the Wake of the Anglo-Norman conquest of Ireland, Richard de Clare, 2. Earl of Pembroke, called belonged to Strongbow, in 1171, with the lordship of Leinster in fief, before passing to the Kilkenny. He built a first Castle, probably a wooden moth, in the year after, but was already destroyed in 1173 by a revolt of the Gaelic Clans. However, the area remained in the possession of the Earls of Pembroke.

His daughter and heiress, Isabel, married in 1189 William Marshal, 1. Earl of Pembroke, who was Lord of large estates in Ireland, England, Wales, and France, which he managed efficiently. When Lord of Leinster made Geoffrey FitzRobert the Seneschall of Leinster, under which a busy building activity began: the city of Kilkenny was expanded, got a city wall and in 1207 the city law. The construction of a stone castle was started in 1195 and completed in 1213. This castle forms the core of today's Kilkenny Castle; built above a rectangular floor plan, it received four round corner towers, three of which have been preserved to this day.

Marshal inherited Kilkenny to his daughter Eva, wife of William de Braose, 7th Baron of Bramber. His daughter Eleanor de Braose, who was married to Humphrey V. de Bohun, came to her son Gilbert de Bohun, Seneschall von Kilkenny, the younger brother of Humphrey de Bohun, 3rd Earl of Hereford, who owned it until his death in 1327. After the death of his descendant of the same name in 1381, the castle fell to the English crown. In 1391 it was sold to the family of Butler, Earls of Ormonde, in whose possession they remained more than five hundred years.

Among the Earls of Ormonde
The Butler family had changed their name from Fitz Walter to Butler in 1185. She came to Ireland with the Normans during the Norman Invasion. James Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormonde built in Gowran Gowran Castle, making the family rich. In 1391 he bought Kilkenny Castle and thus established his family as ruler of the castle and The Associated lands. The castle became the headquarters of the Earls of Ormonde, who later became Duke and Marquess. However, much of the family, including James Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormonde, was moved to St. Mary's Collegiate Church in Gowran buried.Other well-known members of the Butler family were Lady Margaret Butler (1454/1465-1539) and her father Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormonde. Margaret Butler was born on Kilkenny Castle and later married Sir William Boleyn. Their daughter, Anne Boleyn was the second wife of Henry VIII.

In the 17th century, Elizabeth Preston, the wife of James Butler and 12th Earl of Ormonde, who was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland at that time, owned the castle. Butler, who was unpopular in the family, was a Protestant and throughout the Irish Confederate wars in the 1640s, the representative of Charles I. in Ireland. Butler went into exile to Dublin, and Kilkenny Castle became the headquarters of the Catholic rebels. The parliament or Supreme Council met at Kilkenny Castle from 1642 to 1648. In 1650 the castle was besieged by an army led by Oliver Cromwell, which damaged the eastern wall and the northeastern Tower. Later the remains of the wall and Tower were demolished. After Butler returned from exile, he rebuilt the castle in 1661 as a" modern castle". Around this time a new entrance gate was built on the south wall. As a model, castles from Normandy were used, which is why Stone was imported from Caen. Since then Kilkenny Castle has been called a castle.

In the 18th century, the Butler family impoverished and the castle was run down. Small restorations were carried by Anne Wandesford of Castlecomer, who brought money to the family by marriage to John Butler, 17th Earl of Ormonde.


In the 19th century, the members of the Butler family tried to renew the castle and restore it to its medieval splendour. They reconstructed, among other things, the Northern wing and the facade of the building. The building was expanded in 1854 by several extensions. Architect was William Robertson.

In 1899, Kilkenny Castle was visited by the future king George V and his wife, five years later, Edward VII and his wife Alexandra visited the castle.

The castle was continuously expanded to the headquarters of the Marquess of Ormonde. The Expansion ended with the death of James Butler, 3. Marquess of Ormonde in 1919. Because Lord Ormonde had only two daughters, it was agreed that all of the possession now to the nephew of James Butler, 3. Marquess of Ormonde, passed. Arthur Butler, 4. Marquess of Ormonde, the brother and heir of the 3. Marquess of Ormonde, abdicated in favor of his son, George Butler, 5. Marquess of Ormonde, led to the title of Earl of Ossory. George Butler and his wife lived in Kilkenny Castle from 1921, together with their two children Antony, Viscount Thurles and Lady Moyra Butler.

During the Irish civil war in 1923, Republicans were besieged by forces of the Irish Free State on Kilkenny Castle. The Ormones remained voluntarily on site in their bedroom, which was above the Great Gate and thus in the then main attack zone. Although a machine gun was positioned in front of the gate, among other things, only one man was injured. The castle was severely damaged, the repair work lasted for several years. In the 1920s and 1930s, the succession of the title and lands seemed assured, because there were already three generations of direct male heirs.

George Butler, Earl of Ossory, and his family lived at the castle until 1935. In 1935, they auctioned the plant for 6 000 orts and moved to London, and the castle remained uninhabited for over 30 years. In 1938, Arthur, George and Anthony Butler agreed to re-regulate the Trust in which the possessions were located. Due to the impact of high taxes, inheritance taxes, economic crises and cost of living, they had to bear high costs. In the 1880s, the Ormondes had received 22,000 terms of rent and invested a lot. In addition, they received in 1915 for 85 km2 of land 240,000 of them. By inheritance taxes and other costs after the death of James Butler, 3rd Marquess of Ormonde in 1919, however, only £166,000 remained. In the 1930s, investment income amounted to about 9000 us$. Around 1950, investment income was only $ 850. The Ormondes sold a large part of their rented properties in County Tipperary and Kilkenny.

Antony Butler, Viscount Thurles died unexpectedly in 1940, and after the 4th Marquess died in 1943 and the 5th Marquess in 1949, the real estate was inherited by James Butler, 6th Marquess of Ormonde.

After over 570 years of family ownership, Kilkenny Castle was sold in 1967 by James Butler, 6th Marquess of Ormonde, to the Kilkenny Castle Restoration Commitee for 50 units, after the castle had been run down for years.

The last Butler in Kilkenny, James Butler, 6. Marquess of Ormonde. When the sale became official, he said: "the people in Kilkenny, also me and my family, are proud of our castle and we did not like this deterioration. We have decided that the castle should not turn into a ruin. There are already too many ruins in Ireland."the people of Kilkenny, as well as myself and my family, feel a great pride in the Castle, and we have not liked to see this determination. We determined that it should not be allowed to fall into ruins. There are already too many ruins in Ireland.) He also bought the land in front of the castle from the insolvency administrator. In order that it should never be built on and the castle would be seen in all its dignity and splendour.) The celebration of the handover of Kilkenny Castle and the estates to the Castle Restoration Committee also marked the foundation of the Butler family. Guests included Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull.