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a brief history
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Situated on the Kings river, Kells lies nestled amid the fertile farmlands of south Co.Kilkenny.
Little is known of the early history of Kells until 1170 when Welsh and English Normans invaded Leinster destroying the old order of kingships. The priory was founded in 1193 under the instructions of Strongbow and the town entered an era of relative stability and prosperity.Situated on the Kings river, Kells lies nestled amid the fertile farmlands of south Co.Kilkenny.
Little is known of the early history of Kells until 1170 when Welsh and English Normans invaded Leinster destroying the old order of kingships. The priory was founded in 1193 under the instructions of Strongbow and the town entered an era of relative stability and prosperity."> However, in 1252 and again in 1327, the priory was sacked and the town burned by invading forces.
Henry VIII dissolved the priory in 1540 and divided it's lands among the aristocracy loyal to him. There was further land division in 1650-1653 under the direction of Oliver Cromwell and the once affluent town of Kells began a slow decline towards stagnation.

Some key dates in the history of Kells.
1193: Baron Geoffrey FitzRobert founds Kells priory and establishes a Norman style town beside it.
1211: Baron Geoffrey dies at Hereford Castle in England. He was being held hostage by King John as a guarantor of an agreement with the Norman Barons restricting their powers.
1252: An army led by Lord William de Bermingham burns down the town of Kells and sacks the priory.
1308 -12: Last members of the FitzRobert line dies out and a succession of absentee landlords take over. As a consequence Kells is left unprotected and begins a long decline in fortunes.
1316: Lord Edward Bruce takes possession of the town on Palm Sunday on his way to defeating the forces of Lord Justice Edmund le Botiler (Butler).
1327: The town and priory is sacked by Lord William de Bermingham and the Geraldines.
1329: Absenteee landlord Arnold le Poer dies while a prisoner in Dublin Castle. He had been excommunicated and jailed for his part in the famous witchcraft and heresy case of Alice Kyteller. His son Eustace takes over as Baron.
1346: Baron Eustace joins the rebellion against English rule. Captured at the siege of Castle Island, Co.Kerry, he is hanged, drawn and quartered. The Barony is forfeit and awarded by the English king to Lord Walter de Bermingham.
1540 - 41: Henry VIII dissolves the priory. More than 3,000 acres of land are distibuted amongst the aristocracy loyal to the king.
1550:
The Barony passes to Richard Butler, Lord Viscount Mountgarret.
1650-53: Oliver Cromwell confiscates much of the Barony's land. Many of the former nobles are exiled.

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Acknowledgement
Our thanks to Albert Smith for permission to extract from his book A Brief History of Kells, Co.Kilkenny.
Kells Region Economic & Tourism Enterprise, Mullins Mill, Kells, Co. Kilkenny, Republic of Ireland.
Ph. +353 (0)56 7728255, fax +353 (0)56 7728255, E-mail kellsvillage@eircom.net