Kilkenny's origin lies from the early 6th century in the territory known as Ossory. It was first an early Christian settlement, centred on the area near St. Canice's Church.
In the 9th century King Cerball Mac Dunglainge's ability to trade or negotiate with or defeat the invading Vikings, as required, made him the most powerful king in Leinster, and Kilkenny became a major power centre in south-east Ireland.
Kilkenny maintained its position after the 1169 Norman invasion of Ireland, led by Richard FitzGilbert De Clare, or Strongbow.
As Henry the Second had control of the port towns of Dublin, Wexford and Waterford, Strongbow's successor William Marshall built himself a port town in New Ross, 20 miles away on the River Barrow. Marshall continued to develop Kilkenny as a city and he began work on Kilkenny Castle in 1207.
Statutes of Kilkenny
The Statutes of Kilkenny from 1366 were so called because the Irish parliament was based in Kilkenny at that time. They were a list of 35 acts which were written to protect the Hiberno-Normans against the Irish natives.
The author of these statutes was the Duke of Clarence. His fellow Normans had become more Irish than the Irish themselves. He felt that by using the Irish language, custom, and law, the strength of the Normans was reduced.
Marriage between Irish and Hiberno-Normans was not allowed by Clarence. Also, he forbid any Norman from using the Irish language or using the Irish version of their name.
However, the Statues failed and Clarence was forced to leave Ireland the following year.