/kil ken"ee/, n.
1. a county in Leinster, in the SE Republic of Ireland. 70,806; 796 sq. mi. (2060 sq. km).
2. its county seat. 9,466.

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Irish  Cill Chainnigh 
 city, municipal borough, and seat of County Kilkenny, Ireland. It lies on both banks of the River Nore, about 30 miles (50 km) north of Waterford. The ancient capital of the kingdom of Ossory, Kilkenny in Norman times had two townships: Irishtown, which had its charter from the bishops of Ossory; and Englishtown, which was established by William Marshal, earl of Pembroke (Pembroke, William Marshal, 1st earl of), and was raised to the status of a city in 1609. The two were united in 1843. The people of Kilkenny are known as “Cats,” the name likely originating in the medieval period.

      Kilkenny Castle, perhaps the city's most famous landmark, stands on an eminence of 100 feet (30 metres) overlooking the Nore. It was burned in 1175 but was rebuilt in the late 12th and early 13th century by William Marshal. In 1391 the 3rd earl of Ormonde bought the castle. Thereafter it served as a private home for the Ormondes until they abandoned the building in 1935. From 1967 the castle was administered by the National Heritage Council, and it now serves as a museum and art gallery.

      Many parliaments were held in Kilkenny from 1293 to 1408. In 1609 Kilkenny was granted a charter by King James I. The Confederation of Kilkenny, representing the native Irish and the Anglo-Norman Catholics, functioned for six years as an independent Irish parliament, the first meeting being held in 1642. Oliver Cromwell (Cromwell, Oliver)'s forces attacked the town in 1650, and it surrendered.

      St. Canice's Cathedral, begun about 1192, occupies the site of a 6th-century church founded by St. Canice; the bishop's residence was built about 1360. The Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Mary (1843–57) is a cruciform building with a 200-foot (60-metre) tower. A Dominican friary, founded in 1225, is still used; and the churches of St. Mary and St. John date from the 13th century. The Tholsel (1761) is used for corporation meetings. Shee's Almshouse dates from 1594, and Grace's Old Castle, which was used as a jail beginning in 1566, is now a courthouse.

      Kilkenny is a market centre for a rich agricultural area. Woolen mills were long important to the city's economy, and textiles and crafts—particularly those made of Kilkenny limestone—are still significant, as is tourism. Other industries include brewing, printing, engineering, and information technology. Pop. (2002) 8,591; (2006) 8,661.

Irish  Cill Chainnigh 
 county, province of Leinster, southeastern Ireland. It is bounded by Counties Laoighis (north), Carlow and Wexford (east), Waterford (south), and Tipperary (west). The principal rivers are the Barrow (Barrow, River), Suir (Suir, River), and Nore. The climate is mild. The county is well wooded; there are several state forests, and reforestation has been under way for many years.

      The counties of Kilkenny and Carlow are linked for representation in the Irish Parliament, but, for local government and all administrative purposes, Kilkenny has a separate county council.

 Cereal grains and vegetables are grown in the county, and the southwest part is noted for its apples. Dairying and beef production and the raising of sheep, pigs, and poultry are significant. The wool trade is also important. The brewing of ale and malting of local barley have been carried on since the 13th century. The county also has various food-processing, agricultural-engineering, clothing, and handicraft industries. Anthracite coal was long mined in the county, though the industry is no longer in operation; a zinc mine opened for production in the late 1990s.

      Among the many prehistoric sites in Kilkenny are Iron Age forts, ancient stones incised with the cryptic ogham script, incised Celtic crosses, and megalithic tombs and underground chambers. At Harristown in the south is one of the largest dolmens (dolmen) (megalithic tombs) in Ireland. The name Kilkenny means “Church [or Cell] of St. Canice,” who founded his church on the site of the present cathedral in Kilkenny city in the 6th century.

 Kilkenny became one of the counties of Leinster in 1210, but it had been a place of importance for centuries before. Some of the numerous castles in the county were built by the Irish and some by the Anglo-Normans. There are five round towers, one adjacent to St. Canice's Cathedral. Thomastown, founded in the 13th century, has many historic remains, and at Jerpoint Abbey (founded 1158) are some of the finest Cistercian ruins in Ireland. There are remains of Augustinian priories at Inistioge, Callan, and Kells. Area 800 square miles (2,073 square km). Pop. (2002) 80,339; (2006) 87,558.

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Universalium. 2010.

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