Kilkenny Castle stands dramatically on a strategic height that commands a
crossing on the River Nore and dominates the 'High Town' of Kilkenny City. Over
the centuries of its existence, many additions and alterations have been made to
the fabric of the building, making Kilkenny Castle today a complex structure of
various architectural styles.
The original Anglo-Norman stone castle was
built for William Marshal, 4th Earl of Pembroke (c.1146-1219) during the first
decade of the thirteenth century. Kilkenny Castle later became the principal
Irish residence of the powerful Butler family for almost 600 years. The Butler
ownership began when James (c.1360-1405), 3rd Earl of Ormond, purchased the
castle in c.1391, and lasted until 1967 when Arthur, 6th Marquess of Ormonde
(1893-1971), presented it to the people of Kilkenny in return for a token
payment of ￡50.
The buildings have been in the care of the Office of
Public Works since 1969, and many important programmes of archaeological
excavation, conservation, and restoration have been carried out there.