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Laois Caravan and Camping

Clondouglas,Mountrath Road, Portlaois, County Laois
Laois, Kilkenny County
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Kilkenny Cats

The term Kilkenny Cat refers to anyone who is a tenacious fighter. The origin of the term is now lost so there are many stories purporting to give the true meaning. To "fight like a Kilkenny cat" refers to an old story about two cats who fought to the death and ate each other up such that only their tails were left.

There is also a limerick about the two cats.

    There once were two cats of Kilkenny'

    Each thought there was one cat too many

    So they fought and they fit

    And they scratched and they bit

    'Til instead of two cats there weren't any!

The story has many roots. One involves soldiers based in Kilkenny City. However, who exactly these soldiers were and when they were stationed in Kilkenny is subject to some conjecture. Some people think they were English and some think they were Germans under the pay of the King of England.

One version was told in detail in Notes & Queries in 1864. It was said that a group of German soldiers were stationed in Kilkenny, either during the revolution of 1798 or possibly that of 1803. To relieve the boredom in barracks, soldiers would tie two cats together by their tails, hang them over a washing line and leave them to fight.

A different soldier based story tells that in the mid 17th century Oliver Cromwell's soldiers tied the tails of all the cats in Kilkenny in pairs of two and hung them over a wire. The cats then fought until they had killed each other. The final cat was then beheaded.

Another story has a thousand Kilkenny cats fighting a thousand cats from the rest of Ireland in a field outside Kilkenny City. All the cats died in battle. This may be a parable based on dissents of the period between the people of the Kilkenny area and other parts of Ireland.

After the Statutes of Kilkenny the city was divided into two townships called Irishtown and Englishtown, a situation that wasn’t uncommon in a country occupied for so long by the English. For religious, cultural and political reasons there were deep divisions between the two groups. This may lend itself to the story of two cats fighting. Because the rights and duties of the two townships hadn’t been made clear by statute this led to three centuries of dispute between the rival municipal bodies that ended in beggaring both of them.

The inhabitants of County Kilkenny are often referred to as Kilkenny Cats.

Modified: 2007-04-12 14:18:27+02
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilkenny_Cats


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