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.

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. 

Nearing the end of the Garden Restoration Project

Mid- March, and we’re on target and on budget with the Rothe House Garden Restoration Project. The Main Contractors, Tallis & Company, have finished building new walls to plug the gaps between the existing walls.  Mech & Elec service ducts have been laid, and the contractors have laid the topsoil. The layout of the garden paths and beds is completed and the oak and bay trees are planted. The vine arbour is in place, made of oak from Inistiogue, and wooden seats, kindly sponsored by donors, are in place. Sponsorship is still open for seats, trees, plants and cobbles. Wet weather has delayed the planting of the orchard in the upper garden, but the top part is finished and the rest is just awaiting a bit more drying-out. A design for presenting the Cistercian well, in the centre of the garden is being considered by the Trust at present. This will be expensive. However, the well dates from the occupation of the property by the monks from Graignamanagh in the 14th century, so it is worth doing “well.” The Opening Ceremony will be  on April 11th, and will be performed by the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese. After that the garden will be open to the public and will form part of the tour for visitors to the House.

This project has been funded by Failte Ireland, under the 2000-2006 NDP, Kilkenny Borough Council and Kilkenny Civic Trust.

Update on Rothe House Garden

For those of you who aren’t aware, Rothe House is in the process of reconstructing the 17th century garden laid out by John Rothe, builder of the house itself. The garden stretched from the back of the third house all the way to the City Walls, and was in three parts: a vegetable garden, a formal garden and a large orchard. John and his wife Rose would have used the garden as a source of food, but also as a pleasure garden – somewhere to walk and take exercise, or to relax and entertain guests.

The garden will be open to the public from the end of October.

A very successful archaeological dig was carried out prior to Easter, by local company Kilkenny Archaeology. Many very interesting finds were discovered, but very importantly evidence of the original planting beds of the early 17th century was found. This means that our Design Team can use this information when they design the garden.

At the moment, the existing walls on the plot are being restored and rebuilt, and in a few weeks time contractors will be on site building new walls to plug the gaps.

Later in the summer, the landscapers will move in so that the garden will be ready for opening in late autumn.

This very ambitious project is being supported by Failte Ireland, Kilkenny Borough Council and Kilkenny Civic Trust. The garden committee comprises representatives from Kilkenny County Council, the OPW and the Department of the Environment, Local Government and Heritage.

Keep watching this space as I’ll be reporting on progress over the summer.