The Kilkenny City Charter of 1609 is one of Kilkenny's most important documents. It has survived time, damage and even fire to remain of utmost value to the city. Kilkenny today is often referred to as a town but it is in fact a city. In the 'Local Government Act 2001', a special clause was added:
"This section is without prejudice to the continued use of the description city in relation to Kilkenny, to the extent that that description was used before the establishment day and is not otherwise inconsistent with this Act."
The Act also states:
"Subject to this Act, royal charters and letters patent relating to local authorities shall continue to apply for ceremonial and related purposes in accordance with local civic tradition but shall otherwise cease to have effect."
Kilkenny City is now more than 400 years old and the document has managed to survive all that time relatively unscathed. It was nearly lost forever in the Tholsel Fire of 1985 but thanks to the quick thinking of Mr. Joe Stapleton, the document and many others were saved.
The late John Bradley, a Kilkenny native, was assigned the task by Kilkenny County Council of compiling a book on the charter from it's writings. He notes that when the charter came back to the city after being signed by King James I it was in the hands of Nicholas Langton and it sparked jubilation and celebration: “Fuelled not only by the new status and the potential of increased prosperity but also by the fresh challenge facing Kilkenny.....to be 'a shining city on the hill'”.
The charter is a document that is well worth having a further read of. You can find John Bradley's publication on the charter here.