M. Le Gouz represents Dublin as equal to Angers, his native place, that is, as containing little more than 20,000 inhabitants, for such was the population of Angers in that day; but he makes Kilkenny as large as Orleans, which then, as now, was much more extensive than Angers. The inference would be, that Kilkenny was a more considerable city than Dublin, which certainly was not the fact. Boate, a contemporary of le Gouz, in his Natural History of Ireland, published a few years after our traveller's visit, classes the Irish cities thus, Dublin, Galway, Waterford, Limerick, and Cork, in the first line, and Kilkenny, Drogheda, Bandon Bridge, &c. in the second line; of course, far removed from the capital in dimensions. No doubt, while the Supreme Catholic Council sat there, as it then did, the population was increased, and may, possibly, have amounted to 15,000, or more: but Dublin still greatly exceeded it, probably four-fold. Of the two French cities, I can speak with more certainty, for I have better data, and from contemporaneous authorities may state, that Angers contained about 24,000 souls, and Orleans 31,000. The present population of the former is 33,000, of the latter, 40,250. Mènage, the Vadius of the Femmes Savantes, and one of the most celebrated men of his day, wrote the history of his native Angers. Orleans gave birth, with many other learned men, to the Jesuit Pétau [Petavius], and amongst women of renown, to the beautiful Maria Touchet, who justified the
p.85anagram made for her, Je charme tout. She was mistress of Charles IX, and mother of one of Henry IV.'s favourites.
Our traveller, elsewhere, compares Pisa and Sienna, to Orleans. So that Kilkenny, when the seat of the Irish Confederates, and of a Parliament, was of such extent as to rank with three of the first-rate cities of the Continent. Pisa, at that time, was a mighty emporium of trade, and a remarkably well-built city, filled (as it is to the present day, but with no additional monument) by gorgeous structures, civic and ecclesiastical.
Tighe, in his Statistical Account of Kilkenny, states, that that town, in 1689, contained but 507 houses; in 1777, the number was 2274; in 1788, there was a further increase of upwards of four hundred, viz. 2689; and when he wrote (1802)
Kilkenny contained 2870 inhabited houses.The prosperity of Kilkenny, therefore, appears rapidly to have declined under the Commonwealth, Charles II. and James II.