Things to do/Places to visit


With over 200,000 family history parish and civil records, Rothe House is the genealogical research centre in Kilkenny city and county. For those with Kilkenny ancestry, this is the place to start your search, or even add to your existing knowledge.

Family history research at Rothe House & Garden, Kilkenny

Family history research at Rothe House & Garden, Kilkenny

It’s simple to use

  • To begin with, email in as much detail as you can, your request to
  • Our professional genealogist, Mary Flood, will contact you by email to advise if there are records available to help you in your search, and the cost of this.
  • You can then pay using our secure PayPal system.
  • The record(s) will then be forwarded to you.

The fee to search for and provide a single record is €59.  For an assessment of all records available by our genealogist, there is a fee of €119.  Your query will be dealt with as quickly as possible, but this could take up to four weeks.

If you would like to undertake research yourself, then you can log onto where Kilkenny’s records, together with a further almost 20 million records nationwide, are available online.

You can also meet with Mary, who is available on Tuesdays by prior appointment only.  Please email when you know when you will be visiting Kilkenny and she’ll be happy to meet with you to help you progress with your family history research.

Pay Your Genealogy Search Online

If you have been advised by a member of staff to pay online, or you would like to order a genealogical search online, please choose from a full search or initial search below. You will be directed to PayPal to complete your payment to Rothe House. Please use PayPal’s instruction form to outline the requirements for your search. If in doubt, please contact us at Rothe House.



The collection on display in Rothe House was gathered by Kilkenny Archaeological Society from Kilkenny and the surrounding countryside over many generations and held at Rothe House for safekeeping. Here is a selection of some of our most noteworthy treasures on display in Rothe House Museum.

The 3D models of the sheela-na-gig, the ogham stone and the straw beehive were made by Gary Dempsey (Digital Heritage Age) and helpers during a workshop on photogrammetry in Rothe House in November 2018.


This sheela-na-gig was discovered in the churchyard at Coolaghmore, Co. Kilkenny during clearance work. It is believed that she was buried there in the 19th century after being found near the holy well.

It is on display in the reception area in Rothe House.

Museum data

Provenance: Coolaghmore Church, Co. Kilkenny
Historic environment no.: KK030-004006/ KK019-026170
GPS of original location: 52.50203,-7.38435


  • Freitag, B.: Sheela-na-gigs: unravelling an enigma. London. Routledge 2004
  • Ellen Prendergast: Fertility figure, or Sheelagh-na-Gig, from Tullaroan, in: Old Kilkenny Review 1992, p. 1027-1031
  • Sean O’Doherty: Sheela-na-gig at Cooliagh, in: Old Kilkenny Review, p. 72-74

Giant Irish Deer

This species became extinct over 10,000 years ago. The example on display was found just north of Kilkenny City, in Swiftsheath and hangs on the wall at the same height it would have stood when it was alive – over 2 metres.

The giant deer skull is displayed in the Phelan room in the 1st house.

Museum data

Accession number: RH66/116
Provenance: Swiftsheath
GPS of original location: 52.7413,-7.3135
Donor: Major G.S.E. Briggs Swift

The Lavery Collection

Sir John Lavery was a famous portrait painter in London and Dublin in the early 20th century. His portraits include those of Michael Collins, Edward Carson, and prime ministers of Great Britain. Our collection includes a self portrait (1909), and a portrait of his wife Lady Hazel Lavery (1926), a great beauty who famously appeared on Irish banknotes for much of the 20th century.

The portraits are on display in the Phelan room (1st house).

Museum data


Accession number: RH86/23
Donor: Mrs Alice Gwynn

Lady Lavery

Accession number: RH86/24
Donor: Mrs Alice Gwynn


  • Alice McEnery-Gwynn: Pen picture of a great artist – Sir John Lavery’s Kilkenny connections, in: Old Kilkenny Review 1956/57, p. 11-13
giant deer head

Ogham Stone

This unusually small Ogham Stone (only 0.57m in height) is made from carboniferous limestone and dates from the 6th century AD. The inscription reads “MAGI CUNALIGAN MAHI CALLI MACON COSCOIN”, translating to “The stone of Cunaligans, son of Coillas”. It was found in the border area between Co. Kilkenny and Co. Carlow in 1970 and was mounted on a wooden base. It is on display at the top floor of the second house.

Museum data

Accession number: RH60/06
Donor: Captain M. Doyle, Curragh Co. Kildare


  • Katherine M. Lanigan: Collection of antiquities at Rothe House Museum, 1960-1966, in: Old Kilkenny Review 1969, p. 100-106
  • Martin Brennan: Ogham language, in: Old Kilkenny Review 1975, p. 104
  • Owen O’Kelly: Oghamcraobh ar liagan, in: Old Kilkenny Review 1961, p. 29

The Costume Collection

Some of the costumes on display as part of the Rothe House Costume Collection.

Some of the costumes on display as part of the Rothe House Costume Collection.

The majority of this collection, which was donated to the Society in 1990, came from the ancestral home of the Toler-Aylward family, at Shankill, County Kilkenny. It consists of nearly 300 items, ranging from the magnificent 1894 wedding dress with its 10ft. train, to babies’ wrappers of the 1930s. Accessories include a 19th century wire bustle, a silk and lace fichu, stockings, parasols and hats.

Flying Machine

By clicking on the model you can move it around to look at it from all sides.

These items were parts of the first flying machine built in Kilkenny, 50 years before the Wright Brothers build theirs in the United States. It was famously launched at Foulksrath Castle.

Museum data

Accession number: RH70/03
Donor: Major G.S.E. Briggs Swift
GPS of original location: 52.7413,-7.3135


This wonderful piece of craftsmanship was allegedly owned by the notorious Kilkenny Highwayman Captain James Freney (1719). He was known as the Robin Hood of Kilkenny, is famous in Kilkenny folklore and indeed across Ireland.

The engraving on the butt of the gun shows the insignia of Lord Waterford, and it is believed that James Freney stole the gun from him during a raid.

Museum data

Accession number: RH60/26
Donor: Unknown


Cist Grave

bronze age cist grave

Bronze Age Cist Grave

This Cist Grave dates back approximately 4,000 years. It was discovered Killinane, Co. Carlow in the 1970s, excavated and reconstructed in the 2nd courtyard. Along with the cremated remains of two people, a magnificently decorated pottery vessel was discovered which is also in the collection, but not currently on display.

The cist grave has been reassembled in the second courtyard.


  • Fionnbarr Moore: A Bronze Age burial at Killinane, near Bagenalstown, Co Carlow, in: Old Kilkenny Review 1984, p. 64-68

Straw Beehive (Skep)

This straw beehive (20th century replica) is a device used for beekeeping for the past 2000 years. However, only since the Middle Ages were they made from straw; before that, wicker plastered with mud and dung was used – very similar to how houses were built actually.

The straw beehive is on display in the Tudor kitchen (3rd house).

Museum data

Accession number: RH86/08
Donor: Edward Hughes


Rothe House was built between 1594 and 1610 by John Rothe Fitz Piers. The Rothe Family, along with less than a dozen other wealthy families, controlled Kilkenny’s trade and dominated its civic government from the late Middle Ages until the 17th Century.

John Rothe built three houses on this narrow burgage plot – one behind the other. The first house was completed in 1594 and this is where he carried out his business as a merchant and lived upstairs with his wife, Rose Archer and their family. As the family grew he built a second house in 1604. The third house, completed 1610, included a kitchen on the ground floor with a large hearth and bake oven, as well as additional rooms on the first and second floors.

Behind the third house are the gardens which ran all the way to the city walls and contained an orchard, herb and vegetable gardens, a dovecote, a well and a summer house.

John Rothe was deeply involved in the political life of the city serving as the mayor of Kilkenny in 1613. He and Rose had twelve children, the eldest of whom, Peter Rothe inherited the bulk of John’s estate upon his death in 1620.

Like his father, Peter entered local politics and became one of Kilkenny’s leading citizens. But Peter and his family were punished for his political activities and were banished to Connaught by Oliver Cromwell, where Peter died in 1654.

In 1962 Rothe House was bought by the Kilkenny Archaeological Society as the headquarters of the Society and as a place to exhibit its collection of artefacts to the public. In 2002 the Heritage Council of Ireland published a Conservation Plan for the property, which can be viewed here. In 2004 the Society formed Rothe House Trust to manage the house and gardens.