Rothe Family Garden wins major Tidy Towns Award!

On 8th September, it was announced at the Tidy Towns Competition Awards Ceremony that the Rothe Family Garden in Kilkenny has won both the Regional and National Landscape Awards for 2008. 


“The TidyTowns Landscape Award is a special competition sponsored by The Tree Council of Ireland to recognise the role of appropriate landscaping in Irish towns, villages and urban areas and its potential aesthetic and practical benefits to the local community.”

The Garden was nominated by the Keep Kilkenny Beautiful Committee and both awards carry a financial prize of €1,000. A presentation ceremony will be held at a later date.

Peter Brennan, ANCA, Pioneer Potter in Kilkenny

An exciting new exhibition showcasing the life and work of renowned potter Peter Brennan during his time in Kilkenny from 1941 to 1962 opened in Rothe House,  on Friday 5th September 2008. Entry to the exhibition is included in the admission fee to the House & Garden.

Encouraged by local historian Michael O’Dwyer, the Kilkenny Archaeological Society at Rothe House invited Helena Brennan to set up an exhibition to record Peter Brennan’s more than twenty years (1941-1962) in Kilkenny.

During that period, Peter established art and pottery classes, art exhibitions and societies, and set up the Ring Ceramics Studios Limited in 1945 with the financial and gallery help of art dealer Victor Waddington. Peter converted an old grain store at The Ring which had once been used for bull baiting. The Ring is on Parliament Street, opposite Rothe House (built in 1594) where this archival exhibition will run for six months or more.

The exhibition features a mock-up of the old studio showing many of the methods used, with tools and moulds, illustrating the wide range of production methods undertaken by Peter in Kilkenny in the 1940s and 1950s. In 1964, Peter produced over 3,500 specially commissioned mugs for the inaugural Beer Festival, and almost all of them ‘disappeared’ during the reception on the first night in the Beer Tent.

This is the first opportunity there has been to showcase the life and works of Peter J Brennan while he lived and worked in Kilkenny.


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The garden at Rothe House is a faithful recreation of the Rothe family garden. Our gardeners restored it as it would have appeared in the early 17th century. Rothe House garden is now the only urban garden of this period which is open to the public. The long, walled burgage plot runs from the rear of John Rothe’s mansion on Parliament Street to the city wall. Archaeological excavations in 2008 uncovered the original layout of the garden. Even the seeds and pollen of the plants of the 17th century were discovered.*

The plants and trees that now grow in the garden are the same varieties that would have been grown by the Rothes: Deer Tongue lettuce, Scarlet runner beans, Gortahork cabbage, Mammoth leeks, Lovage, Borage, Lady’s Bedstraw, damson, Sweet Rocket, Calendula, Rosa Maidens Blush and Hollyhocks. Fruit varieties include Blood of the Boyne and Scarlet Crofton apples, medlars, figs and quince.

* Cóilín Ó Drisceoil: The Rothe family garden rediscovered: an interim report on the 2007 archaeological excavation project, in: Old Kilkenny Review 2008, pp. 34-47.

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We are very pleased to acknowledge the contribution of our sponsors and donors to the cost of implementing the Conservation Plan for the Rothe House property.

The Garden project was supported by Failte Ireland, Kilkenny Borough Council and Kilkenny Civic Trust. The assistance of the Heritage Council in the planning process, and in many other ways, was considerable, and we would also wish to acknowledge the support of Kilkenny County Council, the Office of Public Works and the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

The members of Kilkenny Archaeological Society have been very generous with voluntary pledges, and many members of the general public who learned about the Plan have supported it with contributions.

As we embark on the final phase of the Conservation Plan, we are continuing our fundraising efforts. While the project is supported by Failte Ireland (under the NDP 2007-2013), and the Councils of Kilkenny City and County, there is still a substantial gap in the funding to be raised. We have launched a new fundraising campaign where we invite you to contribute by means of Standing Order with your bank. A Standing Order form is available here. As Rothe House Trust Limited is a Charitable Trust, your contributions are eligible for tax relief.

Simply complete the Standing Order, and return it to us by post or by email.  We will look after the rest! We thank you in advance for your support.

Genealogy – New National On-line Service:

RHT provides the genealogy service for Kilkenny City and County. We have recently joined with other counties in an on-line service for users, using a central web-site which will be a one-stop shop for all the available Irish genealogical records on the island of Ireland. This is an initiative of the Irish Family History Foundation, and the site contains 8.6 million birth, baptismal, marriage and death records from the 1600s to the 1900s. The cost of building the database and maintaining the service means that charges will apply to users.  The site is at

Conservation Plan: Next Step – The House

Now that the Garden Re-creation is complete, and has been formally opened by the President of Ireland, the next step is the re-presentation of the House in accordance with the Conservation Plan. The first  stage of this entails conservation work on the fabric of the House to enable the interpretive plan for the property to be implemented. This will include replacement of staircase, dampness protection in basement, work on windows and doors, plasterwork and ceiling repairs,  chimney and roof work, improvement of guttering and drainage, and lift installation. A lot of this work is necessitated by obligations in relation to (a) access for all, and (b) Health & Safety requirements.

Announcement of Grant:  We were very pleased recently to be notified by the Dept. of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government that our project here has been included by the Minister in the list of Heritage Properties to benefit from Government grants this year, in our case €200,000, which will allow us to put these works in hand. The full cost estimate is €406,500, so we have a big gap to bridge! 

Re-location within the House: The Plan entails much re-arrangement of activities, to enable us to show off the House to its best for visitors. The Library and the Fás project will move to the Third House, which is now available as the Heritage Council has moved to its new location in Church Lane. We will try to have all the major changes carried out during the slack period for visitors, as much of the House will have to be closed for a time. So, the aim is to have the transfers to the Third House carried out this coming winter, and the re-presentation completed in the winter of 2009-10.

Funding:  We continue to rely heavily on public funding for the cost of the Plan – approx. €3m – but all grant systems operate on a percentage basis, which means we need to be able to source considerable sponsorship from private sources. For this we rely on our own KAS members, our stakeholders in the Trust, and private and corporate donations. So far this has gone well. but now needs to be stepped up as we enter the period of our heaviest investment. Watch this space! 

Sponsor a Tree in the Rothe Garden!

Rothe House Trust launched a new Fundraising Campaign just before Christmas 2008, to help with the cost of the Garden Restoration project. You can choose one of the following items to sponsor and in return we will assign a plaque to the item to commemorate you, or someone else of your choosing.

Benches:Handmade wooden benches specially designed for comfort and ease of use. € 1,000 each

Oak Trees: Semi mature clipped oak trees 2 metres tall. € 600 each

Apple Trees: All old Irish apple varieties, planted in the upper garden. € 40 each.

Roses and Shrubs: A wide variety of roses and shrubs throughout the garden. € 25 each.

Bay Trees: 6 bay trees planted in pots in the lower garden. € 200 each.

Cobbles: limestone cobbles to be set in the entranceway at New Building Lane. € 100 each.

Simply contact 056 7722893 or email for more information on how to take part.

This is your opportunity to support the Kilkenny Archaeological Society and Rothe House Trust in our ambitious project to restore the Garden.

Conservation Plan

Rothe House & Garden will be the flagship of Kilkenny’s heritage and tourist industry when the Renaissance project is completed by Easter of 2011, and all conservation works finished. This will complete the restoration and the presentation of one of Ireland’ treasures for present and future generations.

The Rothe House Conservation Plan was the first conservation plan to be commissioned in Ireland by the Heritage Council of Ireland on behalf of the Kilkenny Archaeological Society in 2002, and its aim was to secure, conserve, and restore the historic property and gardens for future generations to enjoy and use.  The Conservation Plan had four major recommendations and to date three of these recommendations have been completed: they are as follows

1.The formation of a professional Management Company (Rothe House Trust Ltd. was formed in 2004 and has full Charitable status.)

2.  The reconstruction of the Burgage Garden to the rear of the property. (opened in April 2008, and the gardens have won the Local and National Landscape awards in the 2008 Tidy Towns Awards)

.3The Structural Conservation and Maintenance of the buildings. (Works were completed in November 2008)

4.The re-presentation of the site as an exemplar of life in 17th century Kilkenny and Ireland. This is the Renaissance Project, and work commenced on 15th March.  Duggan Lynch & Co were the local contractors appointed to re-fit the Third House to provide for new library facilities, a new training centre for the FAS Training Project, and a Coffee Shop on the ground floor. Phase One has been completed and the Library and the Trainee centre have been relocated.

Contract Signing

Phase two begins in March 2012, and will involve the closure of Rothe House to the public for some months.  This is the refurbishment of the First and Second Houses to install a new exhibition space, with a circular route through the two houses. This new exhibition space will tell the story of Rothe House itself, its construction between 1594 and 1610, the family who built it and lived in it, and their impact on the social and political life of Kilkenny in the 17th century.

The project is being supported by Failte Ireland under the NDP 2007-2013, the Councils of the City and County of Kilkenny and private donations. It is a major conservation and presentation project coming to Kilkenny in these difficult times, which will see substantial investment in the Heritage of the County. The project is estimated to cost €3.1 million.

The project design will provide full accessibility for all to Rothe House and Garden, and when complete will prove to be a major tourist attraction and historical and genealogical research facility for Kilkenny and the South East of Ireland.

We buried our time capsule!

Time Capsule

We had a great day last Saturday, 6th October, when we buried our time capsule in the garden at Rothe House.  Mayor Marie Fitzpatrick attended, and the occasion was presided over by Dr. Maire Downey, President of the Kilkenny Archaeological Society.  The time capsule was actually a beer keg given by Diageo Brewery of Parliament Street. It was made airtight, and pressure tested, before the articles were put in. These included: newspapers, items of clothing, food tins and most importantly of all, a Kilkenny hurling jersey! The capsule was buried deep in the Orchard, and was covered in cement, so that it won’t rise to the surface any time soon. Hopefully it will be uncovered in 200 years time by future archaeologists, and it will give them a snapshot of life in Kilkenny in 2007.

The capsule has been registered with the Time Capsule Society which records all such events in Ireland and Britain. 


Welcome to Rothe House & Garden

Nestled in the centre of Ireland’s Medieval Mile, Rothe House and Garden is one of Kilkenny’s hidden gems. A visit is high on the list of things to do in the Marble City.
Built between 1594 and 1610 on a plot of land (“burgage plot”) formerly owned by the Cistercian order. It became then home of the renowned merchant, landowner and Mayor of Kilkenny City, John Rothe Fitz Piers, his wife Rose Archer, and their eleven children. After John’s death in 1620, his son Peter took over the business and followed in his political footsteps. You can find out more about the history of Rothe House in the timeline.

Kilkenny Archaeological Society (KAS) owns the building complex and Rothe House Trust manages the museum.

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