Kilkenny Castle is one of the prime tourist spots in Ireland and is in the care of the OPW (Office of Public Works.) Because the castle remained a family residence for some six hundred years, it underwent many architectural changes over the centuries. The castle was lovingly restored by their architects and master craftsmen who chose to restore it as it would have looked in the 1830ies. Little remains today of the early medieval castle that I want to focus on on this page.
Kilkenny Castle and the river Nore.
Kilkenny Castle is one of the earliest Norman stone castles to be built in Ireland.
It was built by William Marshall (c. 1146-1219) starting in 1195 and completed around 1210. William Marshal was the 4th Earl of Pembroke and by marrying Isabel De Clare became son in law to Richard De Clare also known as Strongbow, the man credited with initiating the Norman invasion of Ireland.
The location of the castle was perfectly chosen, on a high plateau overlooking a fording point in the river Nore. It was not the first fortification here. Previously, this spot was the seat of the Gaelic kings of the area and most likely there was a stone fort or a ring fort in place at this location before the Normans built their first motte and bailey.
Norman knight guiarding the stairs at Kilkenny Castle
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