750 years ago on the 9th May 1266 King Henry III ratified the murage granted for three years to the men of Kilkenny to fortify their city. The walling was completed in 1275.
Tolls were levied on all goods sold at markets in Kilkenny. They were levied wherever goods were transported over or under bridges, and through gateways into towns, between the port of entry, often New Ross or Dublin, and the destination. These taxes were known as pontage and murage and the funds gathered allocated to specific tasks such as the building and repairing of town walls and bridges. The word ‘murage’ comes from the French word for wall ‘mur’ and likewise ‘pontage’ from the French word for bridge ‘pont’. During the Middle Ages Kilkenny was a popular destination for luxury goods such as silk and muslin, figs almonds and rice, ginger, saffron, cloves, pepper, mace and galangal. These goods were rated by the pound weight at 1/4d per pound. As these taxes were levied at each bridge and gate at towns along the route, the cost of transporting goods to Kilkenny was expensive. This suggests that the market for luxury goods in Kilkenny was supported by a community with enough wealth to make the journey for merchants cost effective, and the building of walls and bridges possible.
Circle: A Calendar of Irish Chancery Letters of 1244-1509, <http://www.tcd.ie/content/irish-chancery-rolls>, [accessed, 27.02.14]
Sweetman, H. S., ed Calendar of Documents Relating to Ireland, 5 vols (London: Longman & Co., 1875-1886), p. 128; 796