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Oliver Cromwell's troops attacked Kilkenny city on Friday, 22 May, 1650.

Cromwell offered the earl Walter Butler a chance to surrender, and expected him to accept. The legends of Cromwell's viciousness and sweeping conquest of Ireland thus far were well-known. Beside that, Kilkenny city was already suffering the infection of the plague.

Butler did not accept the terms of surrender. Cromwell set up three cannon and began to bombard the city wall on the south of town. This was the first time that the wall, built over a century's time and completed before 1400, suffered the attack of large modern weapons.

Seeing that Irishtown, on the north end of the city, was less-well defended and that the townfolk expected the siege to remain at the south end, Cromwell sent a group of 1000 soldiers to attempt Irishtown. This part of the city, itself separated from Hightown (or Englishtown) by a gated wall, would not constitute a true breach of the Kilkenny that Cromwell desired — however, its cathedral (St. Canice's) and round-tower provided a high vantage point over the whole municipality.

Cromwell's first attempt at Irishtown, however, was repulsed. His cannon, meanwhile (by this time installed in the tower of St. Patrick's church,) continued to pound the south wall in an attempt to make a breach there.

No breach had been established through the siege of the Friday and Saturday. This being 1650, and everybody fighting by the grace of a Christian God, fighting paused for the Sunday.

Early Monday morning Cromwell's guns resumed siege. On Tuesday, after more than a hundred cannon shot, they broke a hole in the wall large enough to be considered a breach. Butler's men, of course, had had time to prepare some defense, with extra physical obstructions and with their weapons ready. A bloody fight left 70 Cromwellian soldiers and several officers dead. The city lost 30 men.

some treachery in Irishtown made terms with Cromwell, allowed troops in from there, able to ... ?