Kilkenny (kĭlkĕnˈē) [key], Gaelic Cill Chainnigh, town (1991 pop. 8,515), seat of Co. Kilkenny, S Republic of Ireland, on the Nore River. The districts of Irishtown and Englishtown, separated by a stream, were legally united in 1843. Strife between the inhabitants of the two districts, to the near destruction of both, may have given rise to the stories of the Kilkenny cats, who ate each other up. A third district is High Town. Industries include software and computer services, food processing, and handicrafts; tourism is also important. Kilkenny was the seat of the kings of Ossory. The first earl of Pembroke founded a castle there in the 12th cent. (restored c.1835) overlooking the Nore. Parliaments and assemblies were held in the 14th, 16th, and 17th cent. Among noted pupils at the Protestant school of Kilkenny were Jonathan Swift, Bishop Berkeley, and William Congreve. In Irishtown is the great Cathedral of St. Canice (13th cent.), the seat of the Protestant dioceses of the United Dioceses of Ossory, Ferns, and Leighlin. The Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Mary (seat of the diocese of Ossory), a round tower, and remains of Dominican and Franciscan monasteries (mostly 13th cent.) are noteworthy.
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