North Kilkenny (UK Parliament constituency)

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North Kilkenny
Former County constituency
for the House of Commons
Created from County Kilkenny

North Kilkenny was a parliamentary constituency in Ireland, represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It returned one Member of Parliament (MP) from 1885 to 1922.

Boundaries and Boundary Changes[edit]

This constituency comprised the northern part of County Kilkenny.

Prior to the 1885 general election the area was part of the Kilkenny County constituency.

The constituency ceased to be entitled to be represented in the UK House of Commons on the dissolution of 26 October 1922, shortly before the Irish Free State came into legal existence on 6 December 1922.

First Dáil[edit]

The constituency was, in Irish republican theory, entitled to return one Teachta Dála (known in English as a Deputy) in 1918 to serve in the Irish Republic's First Dáil. Sinn Féin used the UK general election in 1918 to elect the Dáil. The revolutionary body assembled on 21 January 1919. The list of members read out on that day included everyone elected in Ireland. Only the Sinn Féin Deputies participated in the Dáil, but the other Irish MPs could have done so if they had chosen to adhere to the Republic.

The First Dáil, passed a motion at its last meeting on 10 May 1921, the first three parts of which make explicit the republican view.

  1. That the Parliamentary elections which are to take place during the present month be regarded as elections to Dáil Éireann.
  2. That all deputies duly returned at these elections be regarded as members of Dáil Éireann and allowed to take their seats on subscribing to the proposed Oath of Allegiance.
  3. That the present Dáil dissolve automatically as soon as the new body has been summoned by the President and called to order.

The Second Dáil first met on 16 August 1921, thereby dissolving the First Dáil.

Sinn Féin had decided to use the polls for the Northern Ireland House of Commons and the House of Commons of Southern Ireland as an election for the Irish Republic's Second Dáil. No actual voting was necessary in Southern Ireland as all the seats were filled by unopposed returns. Except for Dublin University all other constituencies elected Sinn Féin TDs. As with the First Dáil, the other Deputies could have joined the Dáil if they chose.

From the Third Dáil onwards the Dáil represented only the twenty-six counties which formed the Irish Free State.

In the 2nd and 3rd Dála Kilkenny North formed part of the Carlow–Kilkenny constituency.


The constituency was a safe nationalist/republican seat throughout its existence, from 1885 to 1922. Only three of the thirteen elections held in the seat (nine at general elections and four at by-elections) were contested.

A Conservative in 1885 (who polled only 174 votes) and a Unionist in 1892 (who received a not much larger 314 votes), were the only candidates from other political traditions to contest the seat.

The most hotly contested election was the North Kilkenny by-election, 1890. This was the first parliamentary election to take place in Ireland after the Irish Parliamentary Party split into Parnellite and Anti-Parnellite factions, in early December 1890. The two factions each nominated a candidate. The Anti-Parnellite won, on a 2,527 to 1,362 vote.

All elections in the constituency after its first decade of existence, starting with the United Kingdom general election, 1895, were uncontested. The Sinn Féin candidate, future President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State W.T. Cosgrave (6 June 1880 - 16 November 1965), made an unopposed gain from the IPP in 1918.

Members of Parliament[edit]

Election Member Party Note
1885, December 3 Edward Purcell Mulhallen Marum Irish Parliamentary Died 21 September 1890
1890, December 22 Sir John Pope-Hennessy Anti-Parnellite Joined new organisation
1891, March 1 Irish National Federation Died 7 October 1891
1891, October 29 Patrick McDermott Irish National Federation Re-elected as a candidate of the IPP
1900, October 10 Irish Parliamentary Resigned
1902, February 26 Joseph Devlin Irish Parliamentary 1906: Chose to represent Belfast West
1906, March 3 Michael Meagher Irish Parliamentary
1918, December 14 2 W. T. Cosgrave Sinn Féin Did not take his seat at Westminster
1922, October 26 UK constituency abolished


  • 1 Not an election, but the date of a party change. The Irish Parliamentary Party had been created in 1882, on the initiative of Charles Stewart Parnell's Irish National League. Both the IPP and the INL split into Parnellite and Anti-Parnellite factions, in December 1890. The Parnellites remained members of the Irish National League after the split and the Anti-Parnellites organised the Irish National Federation in March 1891. The two organisations and the United Irish League merged in 1900, to re-create the Irish Parliamentary Party.
  • 2 Date of polling day. The result was declared on 28 December 1918, to allow time for votes cast by members of the armed forces to be included in the count (in contested seats).


General Election 1885: Kilkenny North[1]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Irish Parliamentary Edward Purcell Mulhallen Marum 4,084 96 N/A
Conservative Hon. C. B. Bellew 174 4 N/A
Majority 3,910 92 N/A
Turnout 4,258 N/A
Irish Parliamentary hold Swing N/A

Edward Purcell Mulhallen Marum was re-elected unopposed in the General Election 1886.[1]

1890 by-election[1]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Irish National Federation Sir John Pope-Hennessy 2,527 64.9 N/A
Irish Parliamentary Vincent Scully 1,365 35.1 N/A
Majority 1,162 29,8 N/A
Turnout 3,892 N/A
Irish National Federation gain from Irish Parliamentary Swing N/A

Sir John Pope-Hennessy died in early October 1891, and fellow Irish National Federation party-member Patrick McDermott was elected unopposed in a by-election 29 October 1891[1]

General election 1892[1]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Irish National Federation Patrick McDermott 2,898 90.2 N/A
Conservative W. M. Kavanagh 314 9.8 N/A
Majority 2,584 80 N/A
Turnout 3,212 N/A
Irish National Federation hold Swing N/A

McDermott was re-elected unopposed in the 1895 and 1900 general elections.[1]

In 1918 the constituency used the first past the post system. In 1918 the electorate included all men, who were qualified to vote, if they had attained the age of 21. Female electors had to be at least 30 and meet property qualifications to acquire the franchise.

  • 1918 general election (1 seat); polling 14 December, result declared 28 December
  • 16,113 electors
  • William Thomas Cosgrave (SF): Unopposed


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Election intelligence". The Times (36686). London. 8 February 1902. p. 12. 

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