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Gowran (Irish: Gabhrán) is a village and former town in County Kilkenny, Ireland. Gowran Park race course is located nearby. Gowran is located on the R448 regional road (former N9 national primary road) where it is crossed by the R702 regional road.
Gowran was a place of importance prior to the Norman invasion and a royal residence of the Kings of Ossory, sometimes recorded as the Kings of Gowran. King Robert the Bruce with his army of Scots and Ulstermen took the town in 1316. James Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormonde built Gowran Castle in 1385 close to the site of the present castle and town walls were erected circa 1415. King James I made Gowran a parliamentary borough in 1608.
The town, under the command of Colonel Robert Hammond, surrendered to Oliver Cromwell on 21 March 1650 following a siege. Colonel Hammond was a cousin of Cromwell's. The soldiers of the garrison accepted Cromwell's offer of quarter for their lives and handed their officers over to the Parliamentarians. Cromwell ordered the execution by firing squad of all but one of the officers; a priest captured in the castle was hanged.
In 1688 James II granted A Charter of Incorporation to the town and of 18 burgesses listed, six were Kealy's. A Magdelan hospital was built outside the walls circa 1578 "For the relief of poor leprous people".
In the centre of the village is the historic St Marys Collegiate Church which contains monuments from the 14th to 17th centuries. This collegiate church was built in the late 13th century on the site of an earlier monastery. It was served by a "college"—clerics who lived in a community but who did not submit to the rule of a monastery. They lived in a house, now destroyed, beside the church. The church was a large and elaborate structure, with an aisled nave—the main part of the church where the congregation—and a long chancel—the section of the church where the altar was placed—and has high quality architectural sculpture used throughout. In the late middle ages a massive tower was inserted between the nave and chancel, and in the 19th century this tower was incorporated into the parish church which was built in place of the chancel and which now takes up about half of the building. There were also several other changes made to the church at various periods. St Mary's is now a National Monument.
Barony of Gowran
Gowran is at the centre of the Barony of the same name. The Barony of Gowran contains 36 parishes (See Map) 3 of which are split between the Barony of Gowran and the Baronies of Fassadinin and Ida (Mothell, Kilmadum and Inistioge). Most of the eastern boundary of Gowran is formed by the River Barrow.
Richard FitzPatrick was created Lord Gowran in 1715, and his son was created Earl of Upper Ossory in 1751. Both titles became extinct in 1818.
Gowran railway station opened on 14 November 1850 and closed on 1 January 1963.
- Gowran is home to D.J. Carey who was born there. He is a renowned sportsman and played hurling for Kilkenny until his retirement in 2006. He is regarded as an icon of the sport and has won most of the major honours in the game.
- Other noted residents and former residents are Capt Padraig Quinn (Spanish Civil War veteran).
- Kilkenny hurlers Kevin Fennelly and Lester Ryan
- The ancestors of Walt Disney are from Gowran.
- Arundel Elias Disney, emigrated from Gowran, County Kilkenny, Iwhere he was born in 1801. Arundel Disney was a descendant of Robert d'Isigny, a Frenchman who had travelled to England with William the Conqueror in 1066.
- Colonel Dan Bryan, head of the Irish Army's intelligence unit G2 during "The Emergency" (World War II), was born in Dunbell near Gowran.
- James Butler was created 1st Earl of Ormonde in 1328. He married Lady Eleanor De Bohun. After their marriage, she became Countess of Ormonde. Eleanor was grand daughter of King Edward Ι of England and niece of King Edward ΙΙ of England. James is buried in St.Mary's Church Gowran.
Gowran Park horse racing course and golf course is located near the village.
- Gowran is internationally known for its picturesque racecourse, Gowran Park, which hosts the Thyestes Chase (The Grand National of the South), one of the prestigious steeplechases in Ireland which has been won by three time Cheltenham Gold Cup Winner, Arkle in 1964 and Aintree Grand National winners Hedgehunter and Numbersixvalverde. It has 16 National Hunt and Flat meetings all year round. Gowran Park is also home to one of the most challenging golf courses in Kilkenny and is a venue for meetings, conferences, weddings and parties.
- Young Irelands Gaelic Athletic Association Club are based just outside the village on the Goresbridge Road. Senior County Hurling Champions in 1996 and 2002, they were also runners up in 1997, 2003 and 2004.
- There is a popular Pitch and Putt course in the village.
- The local soccer team is called Ajax.
There is also an athletic club called Gowran AC.
- O'Kelly, Owen (1985), The Place Names of County Kilkenny. Published by Kilkenny Archaeological Society
- Prim, John G A. (2002), Nooks and Corners of the County Kilkenny. Published by Grangesilvia Publications, Kilkenny
- O'Neill, Gerry. (2005), Kilkenny GAA Bible. Produced by Kilkenny GAA Yearbook Committee