Kilkenny College
Kilkenny College or KCK is a co-educational secondary school
Secondary school
Secondary school is a term used to describe an educational institution where the final stage of schooling, known as secondary education and usually compulsory up to a specified age, takes place...

 located in Kilkenny
Kilkenny is a city and is the county town of the eponymous County Kilkenny in Ireland. It is situated on both banks of the River Nore in the province of Leinster, in the south-east of Ireland...

, in the South-East of Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

. It is a private school which caters for both boarders and day students. It is the largest co-educational boarding school in Ireland. The school's students are mainly Protestant (Church of Ireland
Church of Ireland
The Church of Ireland is an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion. The church operates in all parts of Ireland and is the second largest religious body on the island after the Roman Catholic Church...

), although it is open to other denominations.

The College motto Comme je trouve, which means "As I find" in French, comes from the family coat of arms of the Butlers, an aristocratic family in the area and former patrons of the school. It is intended to encourage grit, striving through adversity and taking life's challenges head on.

It was founded in 1538 to replace the School of the Vicars Choral, which had been founded in 1234. Piers Butler the Earl of Ormond located it in the city centre. It was moved to its current location on the outskirts of Kilkenny city, in 1985.


Kilkenny College provides schooling mainly for the Protestants of the community but is also open to other denominations. It caters for both a boarders and day-pupil. Founded in 1538 by Piers Butler, VIII Earl of Ormond and his wife, Margaret
Margaret Fitzgerald, Countess of Ormond
Margaret FitzGerald, Countess of Ormond, Countess of Ossory was an Irish noblewoman and a member of the powerful and celebrated FitzGerald dynasty also known as "The Geraldines"...

, Kilkenny Grammar School as was then called was located to the west of the Cathedral and sited beside the library of St Canice's Cathedral
St Canice's Cathedral
St Canice's Cathedral , is a cathedral of the Church of Ireland in Kilkenny city, Ireland. It is in the ecclesiastical province of Dublin....

. The 1538 school replaced the older School of the Vicars Choral, which was founded in 1234. It was closed for a period in the 1650s (because of the English civil war that spilled over into Ireland), reopening as Kilkenny College in 1667 under the auspices of James Ormonde, first Duke of Ormonde, following the Butler tradition of promoting education in the city. It soon became a famous school and so, in the 1780s, a new College was built on the same site overlooking the river Nore on John St. In 1985 the college was relocated to the 63 acres (254,952.2 m²) site at Celbridge House on the outskirts of the city, while the old school with its Georgian buildings and elegant facade, now houses the offices of the County Council within Kilkenny city centre.

At one time the College was termed a university and boasted a complement of three professors. In contrast at the end of the 19th Century, the College was reduced to one pupil.
The amalgamation with the nearby Pococke school was its saving. Twenty-nine headmasters of Kilkenny College are recorded. In the 20th Century there were four long-serving men: C.G. Shankey 1917 - 1952; Gilbert Colton 1953-1979; Samuel McClure 1979-1996; Robert John Black 1996-2005.

During Gilbert Colton's time the school was amalgamated with the Collegiate School, Celbridge
Celbridge is a town and townland on the River Liffey in County Kildare, Ireland. It is west of Dublin. As a town within the Dublin Metropolitan Area and the Greater Dublin Area, it is located at the intersection of the R403 and R405 regional roads....

 in 1973 and Kilkenny College became co-educational. During Sam McClure's stewardship, the College moved to its new campus in 1985, relocating to the 63 acre (254,952m²) site at Celbridge House on the outskirts of the city. Under Canon Black and Philip Gray, more buildings were constructed.

Coat of arms

The school's coat of arms
Coat of arms
A coat of arms is a unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon or on a surcoat or tabard used to cover and protect armour and to identify the wearer. Thus the term is often stated as "coat-armour", because it was anciently displayed on the front of a coat of cloth...

 is inherited from the Butler family. The escutcheon (shield) and crest
Crest (heraldry)
A crest is a component of an heraldic display, so called because it stands on top of a helmet, as the crest of a jay stands on the bird's head....

 in use today are almost identical to those formally described in Burke's Peerage
Burke's Peerage
Burke's Peerage publishes authoritative, in-depth historical guides to the royal and titled families of the United Kingdom, such as Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, and of many other countries. Founded in 1826 by British genealogist John Burke Esq., and continued by his son, Sir John...

. Butler's heraldric supporters (termed dexter
Dexter and sinister
Dexter and sinister are terms used in heraldry to refer to specific locations in an escutcheon bearing a coat of arms and by extension also to a crest. "Dexter" means to the right from the viewpoint of the bearer of the arms, to the left of that of the viewer...

 and sinister
Dexter and sinister
Dexter and sinister are terms used in heraldry to refer to specific locations in an escutcheon bearing a coat of arms and by extension also to a crest. "Dexter" means to the right from the viewpoint of the bearer of the arms, to the left of that of the viewer...

) do not appear on the school's coat of arms. The Butler family motto ("Comme Je Trouve"), originally appearing on the crest, now appears below the school's shield.

The most widely used version of the school's coat of arms (the official one) has evolved with some changes. The silver quadrants of the escutcheon and the falcon itself have became white, the third quadrant's lion has emerged passant (walking past) while the fourth quadrant has lost its ermine
Ermine (heraldry)
Ermine is a heraldic fur representing the winter coat of the stoat . Many skins would be sewn together to make a luxurious garment, producing a pattern of small black spots on a white field...

 (tail spots on fur). It's not clear if these small changes are attributable to artistic interpretation, simplified draughtsmanship (in the case of ermine) or possibly error (the lion). The modern coat of arms is supported by the letters "K" and "C".


The current campus on the outskirts of the city comprises a complex of classrooms, dormitories, catering and dining facilities, it is set on a landscaped 50 acres (202,343 m²) site framed by mature trees. Today Kilkenny College attempts to serve a dual purpose role as the largest co-educational boarding school in Ireland and as the local school for a large number of day pupils from the city and surrounding area.

It is one of 5 Irish Schools in the country taking part in a pilot project on self-assessment and interchange in conjunction with 100 other European schools. The ethos of the school is one of a family community and a big emphasis is placed on team sport in particular rugby and hockey.

Recently, due to a tragic bicycle riding accident, the principal (Philip Gray) has had to take leave from his position as principal. Since this accident in June 2008, Mr. Aubrey O'Keeffe (deputy head) has been fulfilling Mr. Gray's duties as Headmaster, until a suitable replacement is found. Philip Gray continues to make a difficult recovery, but is said to be making excellent progress, and continues to take an active interest in the well-being of his pupils.

Notable alumni

In its almost 500-year history, Kilkenny College has produced a long list of notable past pupils. A selection of some of the better known, in alphabetical order, includes:
  • John Banim
    John Banim
    John Banim , was an Irish novelist, short story writer, dramatist, poet and essayist, sometimes called the "Scott of Ireland." He also studied art, working as a painter of minatures and portraits, and as a drawing teacher, before dedicating himself to literature.-Early life:John Banim was born in...

     (1798–1842), Kilkenny-born novelist and playwright.
  • Richard Baldwin, D.D., (1668–1758), Provost, Trinity College Dublin (1717–1758 ).
  • David Beatty
    David Beatty, 1st Earl Beatty
    Admiral of the Fleet David Richard Beatty, 1st Earl Beatty, GCB, OM, GCVO, DSO was an admiral in the Royal Navy...

    , (1871–1936), 1st Earl Beatty, one time First Sea Lord
    First Sea Lord
    The First Sea Lord is the professional head of the Royal Navy and the whole Naval Service; it was formerly known as First Naval Lord. He also holds the title of Chief of Naval Staff, and is known by the abbreviations 1SL/CNS...

     and deputy-commander of the Royal Navy
    Royal Navy
    The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

     at the Battle of Jutland
    Battle of Jutland
    The Battle of Jutland was a naval battle between the British Royal Navy's Grand Fleet and the Imperial German Navy's High Seas Fleet during the First World War. The battle was fought on 31 May and 1 June 1916 in the North Sea near Jutland, Denmark. It was the largest naval battle and the only...

     in 1916.
  • George Berkeley
    George Berkeley
    George Berkeley , also known as Bishop Berkeley , was an Irish philosopher whose primary achievement was the advancement of a theory he called "immaterialism"...

    , (1685–1753), philosopher and Bishop of Cloyne
    Bishop of Cloyne
    The Bishop of Cloyne is an episcopal title which takes its name after the small town of Cloyne in County Cork, Ireland. In the Roman Catholic Church it is a separate title, but in the Church of Ireland it has been united with other bishoprics....

    , after whom the university city of Berkeley, California is named.
  • Edward Butler (1823–1879), Kilkenny-born barrister and politician. Butler served as editor of the Galway Vindcator
    Galway Vindicator
    The Galway Vindicator was a newspaper which operated in Galway, Ireland from 10 July 1841 to 4 November 1899. It was one of several newspapers founded to help advance the agenda of Daniel O'Connell and was noted for its daily coverage of the effects of the Great Famine.-References: at Gale Group...

     during the Great Famine and was briefly imprisoned for his activities with the Young Ireland
    Young Ireland
    Young Ireland was a political, cultural and social movement of the mid-19th century. It led changes in Irish nationalism, including an abortive rebellion known as the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848. Many of the latter's leaders were tried for sedition and sentenced to penal transportation to...

     movement. As an emigrant to Australia, he served as a parliamentarian, Queen’s Counsel and ultimately Leader of the Bar.
  • David Alfred Chart, D.Litt., (1878-1690), archivist of State Papers at Dublin Castle
    Dublin Castle
    Dublin Castle off Dame Street, Dublin, Ireland, was until 1922 the fortified seat of British rule in Ireland, and is now a major Irish government complex. Most of it dates from the 18th century, though a castle has stood on the site since the days of King John, the first Lord of Ireland...

     and latterly Deputy Keeper of Public Records in Northern Ireland. Chart read many of his papers before the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland and his book An Economic History of Ireland is still in print to this day.
  • Abraham Colles
    Abraham Colles
    Abraham Colles was professor of Anatomy, Surgery and Physiology at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Descended from a Worcestershire family, some of whom had sat in Parliament, he was born to William Colles and Mary Anne Bates of Woodbroak, Co. Wexford...

    , Prof., (1773–1843), Elected President of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
    Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
    The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland , is a Dublin-based medical institution, situated on St. Stephen's Green. The college is one of the five Recognised Colleges of the National University of Ireland...

     (RCSI) at the age of 29. Colles gave his name to a seminal text on surgical anatomy and to a number of medical terms including Colles’ facia
    Fascia of Colles
    The deep layer of superficial fascia is thin, aponeurotic in structure, and of considerable strength, serving to bind down the muscles of the root of the penis.It separates the skin from the superficial perineal pouch.-Relations:...

    , Colles’ fracture and Colles’ law. Colles twice declined the offer of a knighthood.
  • William Congreve
    William Congreve
    William Congreve was an English playwright and poet.-Early life:Congreve was born in Bardsey, West Yorkshire, England . His parents were William Congreve and his wife, Mary ; a sister was buried in London in 1672...

    , (1670–1729), English-born poet and playwright of the Restoration period (17th and 18th centuries).
  • Benjamin Cronyn
    Benjamin Cronyn
    Benjamin Cronyn was the first bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Huron. A noted Low Church cleric, he distrusted what he considered to be the romanizing tendencies of Toronto's Trinity College, in 1863, he founded Huron University College which in 1908 grew into the secularised University of...

     (1802–1871), Bishop of Huron, Canada. In response to “unsound and un-Protestant” teaching at Trinity College Toronto, Cronyn established a “low church” theology school which subsequently became the founding college of the University of Western Ontario.
  • George Farquhar
    George Farquhar
    George Farquhar was an Irish dramatist. He is noted for his contributions to late Restoration comedy, particularly for his plays The Recruiting Officer and The Beaux' Stratagem .-Early life:...

     (1677–1707), a dramatist, who made notable contributions to Restoration comedy.
  • Victor Gilbert Benjamin Griffin
    Victor Griffin
    The Very Reverend Victor Gilbert Benjamin Griffin , is a Church of Ireland priest, theologian and author. He served as Dean of St...

    , D.D., (1924- ), Dean of St. Patrick’s Dublin (1969–1991).
  • Andrew Fitzgerald
    Andrew Fitzgerald
    Father Andrew Fitzgerald O.P, a native of Kilkenny, he was a professor at St. Patrick's College, Carlow where he taught classics, he was chair of divinity....

     O.P, (1763–1843) a native of Kilkenny, anti-tithe campaigner, he was a Catholic priest, a professor and President of Carlow College.
  • John Kinchela, LL.D., (1765–1845), Acting Chief Justice of New South Wales, Australia.
  • Greg Jacob, (1984-), Wexford Hurler and amateur porn star.
  • Thomas Prior, (1681–1751), born in Rathdowney, Co. Laois, Prior was a lifetime friend of George Berkeley
    George Berkeley
    George Berkeley , also known as Bishop Berkeley , was an Irish philosopher whose primary achievement was the advancement of a theory he called "immaterialism"...

    . Prior founded the Royal Dublin Society
    Royal Dublin Society
    The Royal Dublin Society was founded on 25 June 1731 to "to promote and develop agriculture, arts, industry, and science in Ireland". The RDS is synonymous with its main premises in Ballsbridge in Dublin, Ireland...

     with Samuel Madden
    Samuel Madden
    Samuel Madden was an Irish author. His works include Themistocles; The Lover of His Country, Reflections and Resolutions Proper for the Gentlemen of Ireland, and Memoirs of the Twentieth Century. Dr...

     in 1731.
  • George Ponsonby
    George Ponsonby
    George Ponsonby PC , was a British lawyer and Whig politician. He served as Lord Chancellor of Ireland from 1806 to 1807 in the Ministry of All the Talents.-Background and education:...

     (1773–1863), son of William 1st Baron Ponsonby (of Imokilly), Bessborough, served as Junior Lord of the Treasury (1832–34). Ponsonby’s sister (Mary Elizabeth, 1776–1861) is the fourth great grandparent (eighth generation) of Prince William of Wales on his mother’s side.
  • Jonathan Swift
    Jonathan Swift
    Jonathan Swift was an Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer , poet and cleric who became Dean of St...

    , D.D., (1668–1745), 17th century satirist and author of Gulliver's Travels
    Gulliver's Travels
    Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships, better known simply as Gulliver's Travels , is a novel by Anglo-Irish writer and clergyman Jonathan Swift that is both a satire on human nature and a parody of...

    , Dean of St. Patrick’s, Dublin, and one of Kilkenny College's most distinguished alumni.
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