History and Antiquities of Kilkenny, Ireland


To illustrate local History and Antiquities is a most useful and interesting literary occupation. Some years ago, whilst reading over the "Inquisitions of Leinster," the thought occurred to me that much might be done for Kilkenny by publishing, with notes, those that had reference to our County and City, as it would rescue from oblivion the names of families and places whose memories and worthy traditions hare almost perished with time. Ancient feudal castles and battle grounds, ruined monasteries and decayed churches, holy wells, raths, cromlechs, cairns, &c., are plentifully enough scattered over the length and width of the county, but their history is largely neglected, and the story of their former significance is mostly lost. It is no small task for a clergyman, face to face with the sterner duties of his profession, to undertake the elucidation of such subjects even in an humble way. Yet I hope the day will ever be when many such can command time for the profound study of their country's history, and like another Keating, or an O'Clery, "find it quite consistent with the strict observance and efficient discharge of the onerous duties of a Catholic priest."

Circumstanced as I have been in this way I do not therefore dread unfriendly criticism on the incompleteness and defects of my work either from ordinary readers, or from those of profounder knowledge and more scholarly attainments. Never-so-little light on the "unknown" and "forgotten" will always be acceptable to inquiring men of literary dispositions, be their rank what it may, in mental culture and ability. My concern is not therefore for my own reputation as judged by my attempt. The consciousness of my incapacity to do merited justice to toy subject is my only regret. If, however, after considerable self-denial and prolonged literary toil, I have succeeded in opening the way to deeper and more extensive knowledge of the history of my native county, of its ancient families and local antiquities, I am more than content. Others will appear whose interest once aroused shall expand my work in the future, and "glories" now obscured shall own the light of inquiring minds. It will not be expected that the accounts of the several families appearing in this volume shall be very exhaustive. Such a display is unsuited to the pages of any ordinary book. A history like this is also of necessity local in its character. To generalize it as far as possible for the public has been one of my chief aims. How far I have succeeded in doing so by the relation of events of national importance the reader himself must judge. Probably it is the "Book of Survey and Distribution," which forms the Appendix to my work, that will arouse the keenest interest. How it will affect the present agrarian movement of our country is no affair of mine. lam only responsible for the faithfulness of the copy. The robbery it reveals is the deed of other men.


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All Annalists and Historians agree that Ireland was peopled at a very early period almost incredibly so if we adhere to the chronology of "The Four Masters," who make the age of the world at the birth of Christ 5,200. According to the Four Masters the world was 2,242 years old at the time of the Deluge, and in this they adopt the computation of the Septuagint as given by St. Jerome. According to the Annals of Clonmacnoise and other ancient sources the world, from the Creation to the Flood, reckoned no more than 1656 years, or 586 years less than that assigned it by the Septuagint. This was the computation of the Hebrews, and was the one which the calculation of the ancient Irish poets most favored.