Establishment of Kilkenny County Council
Kilkenny County Council was established with the passing of the Local Government Act 1898. The first elections were held in Kilkenny on Thursday 6th April 1899 and the historic first meeting of the Council took place on Saturday 22nd April 1899 in the Courthouse, Kilkenny.
At that time the duties of the Council were considerably fewer than they are now. The Rural District Councils were responsible for housing, sanitary and local roads in their areas, while in their role as Boards of Guardians they were responsible for what we would now call health services. This left the County Council with financial affairs, appointments of various committees, maintenance of courthouses and minor services such as food and drug sampling, malicious injuries and other minor services. Kilkenny Corporation had been in existence since the 1840’s and it had responsibilities for similar functions it its administrative area of Kilkenny city. During the 1960's a range of new services came into the fold - library, fire-fighting, vocational & agricultural services, industrial & commercial issues, and harbour boards. In 1970 the Health Board came into being, taking away responsibility for this service from Kilkenny County Council.
The Environment became the focus of attention in the 1970s. Most of the activities carried out by the Council in this regard are the product of legislation passed in the last 30 years, notably the Water Pollution Act 1977 and the Air Pollution Act 1987.The Environment brief has broadened considerably in recent years and the Council now takes a central role in the provision of public amenities, parks and recreational activities. The Council also expanded its range of services into Arts, Heritage and Conservation key services to support the local cultural & economic life of Kilkenny City & County.
Local Government was the subject of significant changes since 2000. New policy structures were introduced aimed to restore decision-making for local authorities to local level. This included five Strategic Policy Committees. Each SPC has a broad representation from across all sectors of Kilkenny and will meet regularly to input into the formulation, development and review of policy within Kilkenny County Council. This means that a much broader range of local interests will be contributing to the decisions that are made by Kilkenny County Council.
In 2014 (with the passing of the Local Government Reform Act) in accordance with Local Government Act 2001 Section 10 the State redefined the area of Kilkenny County Council as the entire County & City areas including the former Kilkenny Borough Council area, Kilkenny Borough Council was abolished, the numbers of elected members to Kilkenny County Council was reduced by 2 to 24, the 5 Electoral Areas were reduced to 4, namely Municipal District of Castlecomer, Municipal District of Piltown, Municipal District of Kilkenny City (which comprises of two Electoral Areas Kilkenny City East & West), Local Enterprise Offices were established under the remit of Local Authorities and revised Local Community Development Structures were also established.