Kilkenny (Irish: Cill Chainnigh, meaning "church of Cainnech") is the county town of County Kilkenny in the province of Leinster in south-east Ireland. It is built on both banks of the River Nore. The city is administered by a borough council (and a mayor), which is a level below that of city council in the local government of the state, although the Local Government Act 2001 allows for "the continued use of the description city". The 2016 census gave the total population of Kilkenny as 26,512.
In 2009 the City of Kilkenny celebrated its 400th year since the granting of city status in 1609. Though referred to as a city, Kilkenny is actually a large town, the seventh largest town in Ireland.
Kilkenny is a tourist destination, and its environs include historic buildings such as Kilkenny Castle, St. Canice's Cathedral and round tower, Rothe House, Shee Alms House, Black Abbey, St. Mary's Cathedral, Kilkenny Town Hall, St. Francis Abbey, Grace's Castle, and St. John's Priory. Kilkenny is also known for its craft and design workshops, the Watergate Theatre, public gardens and museums. Annual events include Kilkenny Arts Festival, the Cat Laughs comedy festival and music at the Kilkenny Roots Festival.
Kilkenny began with an early sixth century ecclesiastical foundation within the kingdom of Ossory. Following Norman invasion of Ireland, Kilkenny Castle and a series of walls were built to protect the burghers of what became a Norman merchant town. William Marshall, Lord of Leinster, gave Kilkenny a charter as a town in 1207. By the late thirteenth century Kilkenny was under Norman-Irish control. The Statutes of Kilkenny passed at Kilkenny in 1367, aimed to curb the decline of the Hiberno-Norman Lordship of Ireland. In 1609 King James I of England granted Kilkenny a Royal Charter giving it the status of a city. Following the Rebellion of 1641, the Irish Catholic Confederation, also known as the "Confederation of Kilkenny", was based in Kilkenny and lasted until the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland in 1649.
Kilkenny was a brewing centre from the late seventeenth century, and still houses a number of breweries. The Heritage Council offices are at Church Lane. The seat of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Ossory is at St Mary's Cathedral and the Church of Ireland Bishop of Cashel and Ossory is at St Canice's Cathedral.