Home to the iconic Kilkenny Castle, the County of Kilkenny is filled with medieval sites, outdoor adventure, and stories around every corner. Here are some wonderful facts about Kilkenny.

Irish name: Cill Chainnigh – "cell or church of Cainnech"

Nickname: The Marble County, The Ormond County. Natives are known as The Cats.

Population: 103,685 as of 2022

Area: 800 square miles

Province: Leinster

County town: Kilkenny

GAA colors: Black and amber

Common surnames in County Kilkenny

Murphy, Walsh, Brennan, Maher, Butler, Phelan, Grace, Fitzpatrick, Comerford, and Ryan

Famous people with roots in County Kilkenny

White House architect James Hoban was a Kilkenny native as was the philosopher George Berkley, and Jonathan Swift.

A brief history of County Kilkenny

Kilkenny is located in the southeast of Ireland in the province of Leinster. The county of Kilkenny has three major rivers running through it, known as the Three Sisters: the Nore, the Suir, and the Barrow. In 1641 Kilkenny was actually the capital city of Ireland and remained the capital for nine years until Oliver Cromwell led the conquest of Ireland in 1649.

Kilkenny is known as the Marble City because of its distinctive black marble. The city has a medieval feel with well-maintained and preserved old buildings. Kilkenny is also home to one of Ireland's premier comedy festivals, the Kilkenny "Cat Laughs" festival.

Kilkenny is a county rich in artistic tradition. Thomastown is famed for its community of artists. Inistoige is one of the most beautiful towns in Ireland. 

Kilkenny at sunset.

Kilkenny at sunset.

Key attractions in County Kilkenny

There are lots of ancient sites well worth visiting including the Dunmore Caves in Ballyfoyle, the ruins of the monastery in Kells, St. Canice's Cathedral, and Kilkenny Castle. Kilkenny has a wealth of inscribed stones and crosses, castles, and abbeys. 

* Originally published in 2016, updated in 2024.