|Motto||Comme Je Trouve
(As I Find)
|Type||Co-educational Boarding and Day School (Public, fee-paying)|
|Religion||Church of Ireland|
|Headmaster||Mr Ian Coombes|
|Board of Governors||Right Revd. Michael A.J. Burrows, Bishop of Cashel and Ossory|
|Founder||Piers Butler, 8th Earl of Ormond|
|Students||ca. 800 (ca. 500 boarding)|
|Publication||The Swift Review|
Kilkenny College or KCK is a co-educational secondary school located in Kilkenny, in the South-East of Ireland. 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), 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 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, 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. 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-acre (250,000 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 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
Quarterly: 1st, or, a chief indented, azure; 2nd, gules, quarters: with three covered cups or; 3rd, argent, a lion rampant gules, on a chief of the second a swan, close, of the first, tween two annulets or; 4th, ermine, a saltier gules. Out of a ducal coronet or, a plume of five ostrich feathers, there from issuant a falcon, rising all argent. Dexter, a falcon, wings expanded argent, beaked and membered or; sinister, a male griffin argent, beaked, rayed, collared and chained gold or.
— Charles Mosley, Burke’s Peerage, 2003
The school's coat of arms is inherited from the Butler family. The escutcheon (shield) and crest in use today are almost identical to those formally described in Burke's Peerage. Butler's heraldric supporters (termed dexter and sinister) 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 (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" at the sides, and 1538, the year the college was founded at the bottom.
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-acre (200,000 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.
The principal is Mr Ian Coombes.
Notable past pupils
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:
- Wellesley Bailey, (1846-1937), Founder of the international charity The Leprosy Mission
- Richard Baldwin, D.D., (1668–1758), Provost, Trinity College Dublin (1717–1758 ).
- John Banim (1798–1842), Kilkenny-born novelist and playwright.
- David Beatty, 1st Earl Beatty, (1871–1936), 1st Earl Beatty, one time First Sea Lord and deputy-commander of the Royal Navy at the Battle of Jutland in 1916.
- George Beresford, 1st Marquess of Waterford,(1735-1800), Member of the Irish House of Commons and the Irish House of Lords.
- John Beresford, (1738-1805), statesman.
- William Beresford, 1st Baron Decies, (1743-1819), Archbishop of Tuam.
- George Berkeley, (1685–1753), philosopher and Bishop of Cloyne, after whom the university city of Berkeley, California is named.
- Thomas Bibby, (1799-1863), Poet.
- Abraham Brewster, (1796-1874), Lord Chancellor of Ireland.
- Edward Butler (1823–1879), Kilkenny-born barrister and politician. Butler served as editor of the Galway Vindcator during the Great Famine and was briefly imprisoned for his activities with the Young Ireland movement. As an emigrant to Australia, he served as a parliamentarian, Queen’s Counsel and ultimately Leader of the Bar.
- Sir Thomas Butler, 6th Baronet, (1735-1772), Member of the Irish House of Commons.
- Hugh Carleton, 1st Viscount Carleton,(1739-1826), Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas
- David Alfred Chart, D.Litt., (1878-1690), archivist of State Papers at Dublin Castle 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.
- William Cole, 1st Earl of Enniskillen,(1736-1803), Irish Peer and Politician.
- Abraham Colles, Prof., (1773–1843), Elected President of the Royal College of Surgeons in 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, Colles’ fracture and Colles’ law. Colles twice declined the offer of a knighthood.
- William Congreve, (1670–1729), English-born poet and playwright of the Restoration period (17th and 18th centuries).
- Robin Copeland,(1987- ) Professional rugby player. 
- Benjamin Cronyn (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 (1677–1707), a dramatist, who made notable contributions to Restoration comedy.
- Andrew Fitzgerald O.P, (1763–1843) a native of Kilkenny, anti-tithe campaigner, he was a Catholic priest, a professor and President of Carlow College.
- Warden Flood (1694-1764) was Lord Chief Justice of Ireland and father of the statesman Henry Flood.
- Victor Gilbert Benjamin Griffin, D.D., (1924- ), Dean of St. Patrick’s Dublin (1969–1991).
- John Hartstonge,(1654-1717), Bishop of Ossory and Derry.
- Price Hartstonge, (1692-1743), Member of Parliament.
- Christopher Hewetson, (1737-1798), neoclassical sculptor.
- John Hewitt Jellett,(1817-1888), Provost of Trinity College, Dublin.
- John Kinchela, LL.D., (1765–1845), Acting Chief Justice of New South Wales, Australia.
- Peter Lombard D.D., (1555 to 1625) Waterford-born scholar, appointed professor of theology at Université catholique de Louvain and latterly Archbishop of Armagh by Pope Clement VIII. At the behest of Pope Gregory XV, Lombard joined a Pontifical Commission investigating the affairs of Catholic missionaries in India. Barred from returning to Ireland by James I, Lombard resided in Rome until his death in 1625.
- William Magee, (1821-1891), Archbishop of York.
- William Henry Stanley Monck, (1839-1915), astronomer and philosopher
- Nick Vincent Murphy, (1977- ), Screenwriter.
- George Ponsonby (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.
- Richard Ponsonby, (1772-1853), Bishop of Derry and Raphoe.
- Major General Sir William Ponsonby,(1772-1815), British Army Officer.
- Thomas Prior, (1681–1751), born in Rathdowney, Co. Laois, Prior was a lifetime friend of George Berkeley. Prior founded the Royal Dublin Society with Samuel Madden in 1731.
- Craig Ronaldson, (1990- ) Professional rugby player. 
- John Scott, 1st Earl of Clonmell, (1739-1798), Lord Chief Justice for Ireland.
- Sir Gabriel Stokes,(1849-1920), Indian Civil Servant and Governor of Madras
- John Stratford, 1st Earl of Aldborough, (1691-1777), Peer and Politician.
- Jonathan Swift, D.D., (1668–1745), 17th century satirist and author of Gulliver's Travels, Dean of St. Patrick’s, Dublin, and one of Kilkenny College's most distinguished alumni, so much so that the newest extension of classrooms is called the Jonathan Swift block in his honour>
- John Toler, 1st Earl of Norbury, (1745-1831), Attorney General for Ireland.
- Luke Wadding (1588-1657) Waterford-born, maternal cousin of Archbishop of Armagh Peter Lombard, joined the Franciscan Order aged seventeen. Ordained to the priesthood at Viseu, he lectured divinity at University of Salamanca. Wadding penned Annnales-Minorum upon retirement and founded the Franciscan College of St Isidore's in Rome.
- Thomas Westropp Bennett, (1867 -1962), Cathaoirleach (Chairman) of the Irish Senate.
- Dobbs (1946, p.134)
- Murray (1857)
- Nairn (1969, pp312-315)
- Darwin (1961)
- Dobbs (1946, p.135)
- O'Sullivan (2007)
- Langtry (1892)
- JOURNAL OF THE WATERFORD & SOUTH-EAST OF IRELAND ARCHEOLOGICAL SOCIETY. FIRST QUARTER, JANUARY TO MARCH,1915.
- Dobbs (1946, p.138)
- Dobbs (1946, p.139)
- Clarke (1951).
- Dobbs (1946, p.140)
- Clarke, D., 1951, "Thomas Prior, 1681-1751: Founder of the Royal Dublin Society", in Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review, 40(159), pp. 334–344.
- Darwin, K., 1961, "David Alfred Chart," in Journal of the British Records Association, 4(25).
- Dobbs, W.E.J., 1946, “A Supplement to the Entrance Register of Kilkenny School, 1684-1800,” in The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 76(3), pp133–142.
- Nairn, B., 1967, “Kinchela, John (1774?-1845)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, Melbourne University Press, pp 51–52.
- Nairn, B., 1969, "Butler, Edward (1823-1879)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, Melbourne University Press, pp 312–315.
- Langtry, J., 1892, History of the Church in Eastern Canada and Newfoundland, New York: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
- O'Sullivan, G., 2007, Speech by the President of RCSI at Summer Conferrings, University College Cork, 21 June 2007 .
- Kilkenny College - Official website