Emigration and Education Statistics, 1931, Co. Kilkenny

Conntae Chille Coinnigh’

Boundaries and Dimensions

Kilkenny an inland county in the province of Leinster is bounded on the north by the Queen’s county (Laois), on the east by counties Carlow and Wexford, on the south by county Waterford, and on the west by county Tipperary. Its greatest length, north and south from the bend of the river Suir, west of Waterford city to the north of the county at the village of Clogh (Clough) is 45 miles ; and its greatest breadth from near Graiguenamanagh on the east to the western boundary is 23 miles.

Name and Former Divisions

Like many other Irish names, Kilkenny derives its name from a church, founded here by St. Canice and called Cill-Chainnigh, who was Abbot of Aghaboe, Queen’s county (Laois), and who died in 598. The ancient kingdom of Ossory embraced nearly the whole of the county. Hy Duach was the old name of the barony of Fassadinin. Hy Bercon, nearly co-extensive with the barony of Ida, gives its name to the town of Rosbercon. Other portions of this barony were called Igrine and Ui Deaghaigh. The barony of Iverk represents the old district of Hy Erc. On the banks of the river Nore are two spots famed in story, one of these is Arget-Ris, or the Silver Wood, where one of the early kings of Ireland made silver shields for his followers ; the other is Rathbeagh, where Eber and Remon, the two first of the Milesian kings built a fort in which they were afterwards buried.

Physical Features

Minerals: The baronies of Fassadinin and Gowran contain a large coalfield, which may be worked some day at considerable profit. The great central plain is mostly limestone, and around Kilkenny City there are large areas of black marble, which is extensively quarried. Kilkenny marble is much used for monumental and architectural purposes.

Mountains: The county may be described as rather hilly than mountainous. A considerable portion is high upland without any distinguishing peaks. Brandon Hill (1,694 feet), near Graiguenamanagh, is the highest peak in the county. The Castlecomer or Slievenamargy Hills are in the Barony of Fassadinin, and in the northern portion of the Barony of Gowran. The Booley Hills are in the Barony of Iverk. South of Kilkenny City and east of the river Nore extends a large tract of undulating ground.

Rivers: – The river Nore flowing from Co. Laois, runs nearly south past Ballyragget, Kilkenny and Thomastown before it joins the river Barrow, 2 miles above New Ross. The river Barrow, from Carlow, forms the eastern boundary of the county for nearly 36 miles before it enters the river Suir. The Suir flowing from the west, forms the southern boundary for about 23 miles to its junction with the Barrow. The Nore has several tributaries, the principal of which are the Owveg, which joins it above Ballyragget; and the Dinin on which stands Castlecomer town; the Coolcullen, the Muckalee and the Clogagh are tributaries of the river Dinin. The Nuenna, flowing by Freshford ; the King’s river by Callan and Kells, with their smaller additions, the Munster and the Owbeg, and the Glory river are also tributaries of the river Nore. The Little Arrigle and the Arrigle flow into it on either side of Thomastown. The smaller tributaries of the river Barrow are the Monefelim and the Powerstown river, which join it near Gowran. The Tributaries of the river Suir are the Lingaun, which forms the boundary for 7 miles, and the Blackwater, on which stands Mullinavatt. The Pollanass joins the Blackwater near the last-named town.

Lakes: A small lake called Lough Cullen, near the Waterford boundary, is the only one of any extent in the county.

ANALYSIS OF THE CENSUS FOR COUNTY KILKENNY. Comparative statistics (1821-1926)




88,463 93,483

93,977 99,709

99,114 103,306

76,493 82,255

60,317 64,198

52,965 56,414

48,971 50,560

43,468 43,793

40,095 39,064

38,551 36,411

37,033 33,932

The maximum population of the county was attained in 1841, and from that period there was a continued decline. Comparing the census of 1841 with that of 1926, there was a total decrease of 131,430 persons of 64.9 % of the population in 1841.

Families and Houses, 1926

The number of families in the county was 12,555, the average number in each family being 4.5. The number of Inhabited houses was 14,824, showing an average of 4.8 persons to each house. The special inmates of Public Institutions are omitted from these calculations.

There were in the county 9,732 Occupiers or Heads of Families, who were in occupation of less than five rooms, being 77.5% of the total for the county. Of these 366 or 2.0% of the families in the county occupied one room : 2,092, or 16.6%, two rooms ; 3,156 or 25.1%, three rooms; and 4,118, or 32.8%, occupied four rooms.

There were in the county 194 tenements in which the room had only one occupant ; 125 cases where the room had two, three or four occupants ; 39 cases in which there were five, six or seven occupants and 8 cases where the occupants of one room exceeded seven in number, including 1 case where there were ten persons and 1 case where twelve persons, occupied the same room.

Birthplaces of the Inhabitants

Of the population in 1926, 85.14%, were born in the county, 12.91%, in other counties in the Republic of Ireland, 0.37% in Northern Ireland, 1.08% in Great Britain, and 0.5% were born abroad.

Religious Professions (1861-1911)

Figures are Per cent of the Total population for the year at the top of the column

RELIGIONS, 1861-1911(% of population)








0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.21 0.28

Church of Ireland
4.8 5.1 5.0 4.75 5.03 4.48

Roman Catholic
94.9 94.5 94.6 94.81 94.53 94.97

0.1 0.1 0.1 0.15 0.14 0.10

0.0 0.1 0.1 0.09 0.09 0.17

IRISH SPEAKING (1861-1911)

No. of people







Irish only
198 316 35

Irish & English
14,005 6,424 9,210 3,933 3,568 3,264

Irish Total
14,203 6,740 9,245 3,933 3,568 3,264

% of population
7.4 0.6 14.3 4.5 4.5 4.4

EMIGRATION (1861-1911)

1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911
34,010 12,338 9,133 13,247 4,835 3,401