Early Christian Period
The place name Kilcock is derived from the Irish ‘Cill Coca’ the Church or Cell of Coca. St Coca was an early Christian missionary and she founded the first Church in Kilcock circa 550 A.D. The Church was built on high ground on the southern bank of the Rye Water River close to a well of pagan religious significance.
From about the 6th century the Rye Water River marked the boundary of the Kingdoms of Leinster and Meath. There was a ford over the Rye Water at Kilcock and it was often the site of many battles fought between the warring factions of the two Kingdoms. One important battle was fought near Kilcock in 780 when the High King Donachada defeated the King of Leinster Rory MacFaelan.
By 1299 the Normans had established a manor and settlement at Kilcock and the medieval town extended to the limits of the outer enclosure of the early Christian centre. This enclosure extended to 14 acres and the outer boundary survives in the present curved street system surrounding the town square.
Late Medieval Kilcock
In the 15th century Kilcock once again became a frontier town as it was situated on the boundary of the Pale. It was noted as a very important market town in the Kingdom. The Medieval Church situated in St Coca’s Graveyard was an extensive building with approximate dimensions of 20m by 5m.
Ecclesiastical Row of the 1672
There was a religious dispute in Kilcock involving Catholic clergy in the early 1670s. During the dispute the Archbishop of Dublin forbade a Dominican Friar John Byrne who had a Chapel in the town from officiating at religious services. This order was read publicly by the Parish priest Fr. Egan to a large gathering at the Market cross in the Fair Green in 1672. John Byrne nevertheless ignored the order and the civil parish was placed under interdict, which lasted for seven years.
Kilcock in 1798
Kilcock was a centre of rebel activity in the years leading up to 1798. The town fell into rebel hands during the rebellion of that year. Large areas of the town were destroyed including the military barracks in the Fair Green. The last field battle to be fought in the Dublin area was fought at the Battle of Ovidstown four miles west of Kilcock in June 1798. At the Battle the rebel army by led Col. William Aylmer was defeated with a loss of over 200 dead.
A new era in commercial life began with the coming of the Royal canal, which opened for traffic in 1796. Unfortunately this led to the demise of the towns many breweries.
The coming of the railway in 1847 greatly added to the town’s economic development. Passenger transport reverted from the Canal boats to the Rail system and this resulted in the opening of a Railway station in the town.
In the mid 1900’s a recession caused by the demised of the Canal, the ending of the Fair and the closing of the Railway station led to a decline in the importance of Kilcock as a commercial centre.
Today in the 21st century Kilcock is a thriving town and is fast becoming an outer suburb of the Capital. With the re-opening of the canal as amenity, the coming of the motorway and the re-opening of the Railway station, Kilcock can look forward to a promising future.