About Kilkenny CastleKilkenny Castle was built by William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke, on the site of an earlier wooden motte and bailey style castle constructed by his father-in-law, Richard de Clare (better known as Strongbow). The three round towers and stone curtain walls visible today date from this period.
In 1391 the castle was purchased by James Butler, the 3rd Earl of Ormonde, thereby commencing 500 years of rule by the Butler family in the local area. The Butlers' fortunes varied over the years – although a powerful family, the castle did see some trouble throughout its history.
During the Irish Confederate Wars of the 1640s, for instance, the castle became the meeting place for the Irish General Assembly of the Catholic rebel group Confederate Ireland - despite the fact that the current lord was a Protestant and staunch supporter of the king. As a result, the property was besieged by Cromwellian forces in 1650, during which time the northeast tower and parts of the wall were severely damaged.
The Butler family continued to live in the castle until 1935, and the last descendant sold it to the town of Kilkenny for a symbolic payment of £50 in 1967. Since then the castle has been extensively restored, with the interiors now decorated with furnishings of the 1830s. Visitors can tour the drawing room, library, bedrooms and Long Gallery, as well as the grounds and gardens. There is also an art gallery in former servant quarters, and a conference center in the former Parade Tower.