Culture Night 2014

 

Culture Night 2014

 

Hi all!



Culture Night 2014 is almost upon us once more.  The evening/night of 19th September 2014 will see a whole host of special cultural events nationwide and Kilkenny is no exception! With no shortage of history and culture there is a wide range of activities and events to choose from and enjoy; for all ages, likes and tastes!

Here at Rothe House & Garden we will be hosting Dig It Kids for yet another fun kids archaeology dig.  The dig, open to kids aged 6-12 is a hands on means of learning about our past is a fun environment; definately not one to be missed!

There will be two workshops on the evening of Friday, 19th September, thefirst at 3pm and the second at 6pm.  Both workshops last approx 2 hours and pre booking is essential as these workshops tend to fill up fast!  To book your kid(s) in for the dig please contact Dig It Kids directly at (01) 2968190 or by email at enquiries@digitkids.ie

While the kids are in digging why not attend some events yourself? Have a look at the digital brochure in the link below and don’t forget to explore, experience and enjoy!

Click here for full listings of Kilkenny Culture Night events -> Culture Night KK 14

Colm gives insightful look at Rothe House.

On Tuesday afternoon, 26th August, as part of the National Heritage Week events, Colm Murray whom is the architectural officer with the Heritage Council gave two very insightful tours to a number of very interested visitors!

Colms tours looked at the early history of the house in its social, political and religious context but focused for a greater part of his tour on the architectural elements of the houses and courtyards; helping the visitors understand what the fabric of the building can teach us about times past and not only the founders of the house, the Rothe family, but subsequent tenants of all social classes whom inhabited the house since.

As a functioning set of buildings it has existed for over 400 years in various guises; from the grandeur of a fine cloth and fabric shop to dark and dire tenements, but, that each one of these layers and what they have added to the history of the houses is important.  The conservation of the house has been ongoing for over a hundred years Colm explained when Timothy O’Hanrahan took ownership of the complex in the late 19th century, at a time of Gaelic revival.  His alterations to the house, although very much of their time, incorporated some features of the original house, but unfortunately aren’t true to the late Tudor origins of the house.  However, these alterations, or modernization’s done with the best of intentions in that particular time made the house habitable and possibly saved it from ruin; thus adding another fascinating element to the old story.

Its worth noting too that the restoration and preservation of Rothe House goes on; and has done since the Kilkenny Archaeological Society took ownership of the buildings in the 1960’s.  Even today, with the Renaissance Project, the preservation of the houses and garden is paramount so that such a fine, and unique site can be maintained and enjoyed by all whom visit.IMG_0288 IMG_0298 IMG_0303 IMG_0307 IMG_0313

Mary; How Does the Garden Grow? 15th August 2014

Its Friday once more, the end of a busy week in Rothe House & Garden, this week being a particularly busy one as it is the Kilkenny Arts Festival!  So, not only has there been the crunch of the pebbles under visitors feet as they browse around the garden, or the crunch of an apple from the orchard but also the sound of sweet music coming from musicians whom have played in the garden during the week for short, impromptu ‘Secret Garden Music’ sessions.  These small gigs lasted only 20 minutes tops but attracted many visitors to the garden, all of whom were in no rush to leave after the event was over, obviously enjoying the little haven in the midst of the city and no doubt taking advantage of the free admission to the garden for the particular musical sessions.

American folk singer Sam Amidon playing to a happy audience in the garden.

American folk singer Sam Amidon playing to a happy audience in the garden.

 

 

But alas, as delightful as this music was the work in the garden must go on, nature doesn’t pause, although, one has to wonder if the music proved beneficial? Well, we’ll see.  But for now we figured we might take a look at some more of the vegetables and herbs on offer in the garden.  The first one we looked at, and, our attention was easily drawn too was the winter savory.  This plant seemed to be alive with the hum and buzz of bee’s, obviously enjoying what it had to offer.

Bee's hard at work in the Winter Savory

Bee’s hard at work in the Winter Savory

 

Mary explained that this herb is similar to thyme, but stronger and slightly more spicy!  Breaking off a few leaves and rubbing them between my fingers I discovered that the smell was quite strong indeed!  This particular herb would have been popular for use in soups and stews, but, in small amounts for reasons already noted.  Its strength of taste meant that it could be dried and used throughout the winter.  It is propagated by seeds and pruned back hard in winter Mary explained.

Mary next showed me the beans which have really taken off upon the structure she built for them.  The plant has very distinctive deep orange flowers and, on closer inspection the bean pods! This variety, Scarlet Runner, is a 17th century plant.  The beans are best picked when young and quite tender, other wise if left to grow larger (and apparently they can grow very large according to Mary!) they become tougher and very stringy with a  woody taste; not good!

Scarlet Runner beans

Scarlet Runner beans

 

Runner bean pods.  Young and ready to be picked.

Runner bean pods. Young and ready to be picked.

 

 

Next to the beans, on a structures of their own can be found two variety of peas; the first being Robinson Peas and the latter, Irish Green.  The Robinson Peas are very much in season now and upon trying some, as is necessary, they are quite sweet!  Mary jokes that these peas never make it to the pot! They are simply too delicious and are usually being ate as their being picked!!

The second variety of pea, Irish Green, is just about out of season, a few meager pods remain that weren’t snapped up in time, gone brown and woody now, they, like the rest of the plant will be chopped down and dug back into the soil.  A form of natural recycling to support next years growth.

While we’re talking about peas, how about a little Tudor recipe for Thick Pea Pottage for those whom the idea of pea soup appeals to!

The Tudor’s Thick Pea Pottage, 1591

Irish Greens finished for another year.

Irish Greens finished for another year.

 

 

Just to cap things off Mary drew my attention to the clay pots that sit atop of the cane structures on which the peas are growing.  I was informed that this was known as a ‘cornet’ and serves to hold the canes in place while also appearing decorative!  So, with that, it was time to prepare for more music in the garden, music that might make the grass even greener and the peas even….sweeter? Like I said, we’ll see! 😉

Clay cornett pot.

Clay cornett pot.

Heritage Week 2014 – Kilkenny Events

As you may know Heritage Week 2014 is taking place this year from the 23rd to the 31st of August.  It promises to be a jam packed week nationwide with something for everyone, young and old!  Kilkenny is no exception, we have an abundance of history on offer and events to partake in during the week.  So, check out the digital brochure in the link below and get planning!

KK Heritage Week 2014 Brochure

Mary; How does the garden grow?! 8th August 2014

Hi readers!

Apologies for not supplying you with your weekly dose of all things Rothe House garden related last week but we were just so busy that we figured rather than give you something half hearted we’d hold back and wait until this week.  So, here we are!   Its the first day of the Kilkenny Arts Week and unfortunately the weather is not exactly summery, but yet, still very Irish;  heavy showers with intermediate sunshine!  The garden certainly isnt complaining and is certainly enjoying the rainfall and looking all the better of it too.

Mary, whom is always rushed off her feet on a Friday was eager to set aside a little time to provide me with the information that I required for this blog, so, she was to be found in the greenhouse from where she walked me to the garden and scanned the length of the garden wondering where to begin in a garden that you could talk a very long time about!

I was shown first the mulberries; these I had seen in recent weeks, it was hard to miss them with their signal red, alluring looking fruit, plentiful among its branches.  Mary had previously warned me, and did again today that, ‘if you ever want to be put off the mulberries for life, try them when they are bright red!’.  Apparently the correct time to try them is when they are very dark in color, almost black and fall away when touched, so, as a number of dark ones where spotted that fell away quite easy, why not have a taster?

 

Mulberries a plenty!

Mulberries a plenty!

 

Ready to taste.

Ready to taste.

Mulberries, I can now confirm and attest to, are an acquired taste for sure.  Even when ripe and ready, as per the image above, they are still somewhat sour and bitter.  You may already now that mulberry wine is indeed made from these very mulberries, so, perhaps if you, the reader, have any particular recipes for such a drink you might share them.  As for me, I shan’t be trying this particular fruit again.

Another curious looking fruit that Mary explained was getting a lot of interest from the visitors to the garden is the Medlar.  This fruit, which is native to Europe is a very old and somewhat exotic! When fully developed, which should be in November, the medlars will be a russet brown color and approximately the size of a small apple.  The fruit will be allowed to decay for up to several weeks and then its soft and sweet interior is eaten out with a spoon.  It can also be using for making jelly.  Have any of our readers ever tried this fruit?  Mary didn’t seem too enthusiastic about its taste that’s for sure!

Medlars

Medlars

Another curious looking fruit in the orchard was what I was informed was a ‘Quince’.  This fruit which looks almost like a pear and will have a similar size when developed.  They are generally too hard and sour to eat fruit and are usually left to bleet (decay) for a number of weeks.

“they are used to make jam, jelly and quince pudding, or they may be peeled, then roasted, baked or stewed. The Pectin level diminishes as they ripen.The flesh of the fruit turns red after a long cooking time. The very strong perfume means they can be added in small quantities to apple pies and jam to enhance the flavour. Adding a diced quince to apple sauce will enhance the taste of the apple sauce with the chunks of relatively firm, tart quince. The term marmalade, originally meaning a quince jam, derives from “Marmelo, the Portugese word for this fruit.”
Source; Wikipedia.

Old botanical drawing of Quince.

Old botanical drawing of Quince.

 

Quince in our orchard.

Quince in our orchard.

The Honesty has gone from our garden we’re afraid; but don’t worry, it’ll be back next year!  We are of course referring to the plant named ‘Honesty’.   The seeds, pictured below in their very delicate and paper like pods will be collected by Mary very soon and stored to dry before being replanted and grown again next year.

Honesty plants.

Honesty plants.

 

Honesty seeds in their pods.

Honesty seeds in their pods.

Mary also wants you to know that she has been very busy with all manner of other jobs in the garden!  To name but a few; cutting back the border plants to tidy the beds and keep the pathways clear.  Tying up the blackberry plants to their hazel stakes, as we seen in out previous blog entry.  Dead heading the plants  and watering the all important window boxes which keep the outside of Rothe House looking magnificent at this time of year!

Finally, before signing off, an image of our lovely apples!  In abundance this year.  As I was talking to Mary in preparation for this blog you could hear them dropping from the tree and hitting the ground and, I must admit, as I time this I am munching away on one! They have to be tried to be appreciated!!

Apples in abundance!

Apples in abundance!

Until next time…….

 

 

Kilkenny Arts Festival 2014

Its almost that time of year again when Kilkenny city and county comes alive with all the color an sounds that is the Kilkenny Arts Festival!  Taking place between the 8 to 17th August it promises to offer activities and interest for all ages and ranges of interest and here at Rothe House & Garden we have a great line up to offer!

From poetry readings, to classical music performed in our beautiful garden and the fun of children’s workshops to antique book sales for the connoisseur of the fine classics; we’ll cater for all your artistic needs.  See the listings below and dont forget to mark them down in your diary!! 

August 8th to 17th
Ailbie O’Donoghue will have antique books on sale throughout arts week on the ground floor of house two.  Available to purchase from 10am to 5.30pm daily (Sundays approx 12 to 5.30pm)

 
August 9th

Poetry readings by Eiléan Ní  Chuilleaná in, Conor O’Callaghan & Peter Sirr – 3.30pm

Sunday 10th

Secret Garden Music – 4pm

Much Ado Directors Talk – 5pm

Tuesday 12th

Secret Garden Music – 4pm

Thursday 14th 

Children’s Workshop – 10.30am to 12.30pm

Secret Garden Music – 4pm

Laghdú – 6pm

Friday 15th

Children’s Workshop – 10.30am to 12.30pm

Saturday 16th

Secret Garden Music – 4pm

For further information on these events, admission charges, duration etc, you can pick up an event booklet from a number of venues around Kilkenny City including Rothe House & Garden.  Or, alternatively you can check out the website for Kilkenny Arts Festival at http://www.kilkennyarts.ie/

Make sure you get out and enjoy these events! We look forward to seeing you.

 

 

Mary; How Does the Garden Grow? 24th July 2014

Hello readers!  We hope you are all well and enjoyed last weeks blog entry where we looked at our apples.  If you haven’t seen it you can click here and check it out.

It’s incredibly warm here in Kilkenny these past few days and very humid, I dont know the exact temperature but I do know its ‘hot’, very hot in fact, hotter than we are used to or in fact comfortable with.  Never the less, one should not complain and although the thought of leaving the cool, fresh office and step out into the blazing heat and sunshine wasn’t appealing to me, out I went never the less, in search to Mary to find out what was happening in the garden this week.

The garden is indeed basking in the heat and sunshine and the visitors love it; casually stroking around, shades on, cameras at the ready and plenty of seats to sit on and relax!  However, the garden itself, or, more so the plants, aren’t really enjoying it and a lot of Mary’s time these past number of days has been taken up with watering potted plants or those in containers.

Just one of many plants that need to be watered, in this instance an old granite trough.

Just one of many plants that need to be watered, in this instance an old granite trough.

 

 

The first of the apples have been picked, most of these are windfall apples that aren’t far off being ripe, a number of them too being ones which have to be plucked slightly prematurely in order to save the boughs of the trees as some are laden down with fruit!  The apples, according to Mary, are very ‘tart’, meaning they are quite bitter.  These will ripen somewhat if left in a window but they wont last long, fresh apples will rot very quick!

A bough laden down with apples.

A bough laden down with apples.

 

Mary thinning out some of the apples.  Its unfortunate to lose some good fruit, but it has to be done to maintain the trees integrity.

Mary thinning out some of the apples. Its unfortunate to lose some good fruit, but it has to be done to maintain the trees integrity.

Blackberries are in season now and providing a real sweat treat to those whom try them, which, apparently is a lot as those full, quite dark, berries don’t seem to last too long! 😉  But, how could you blame anyone, whether staff or visitor from trying them! What a reward they are in for too!!

The blackberries are a variety known as Bedford Giant and there are a number of these plants in the orchard section of the garden, in the borders.  The plants are grown on hazel frames, a traditional method, to try and maintain their shape and keep them confined to a particular area as these plants have a tendency to grow wild very quick!

The fruit they produce would have been used, back in John Rothes time, to produce deserts and for making jam with honey being added as a sweetener in place of sugar.

Bedford Giant blackberry plant with hazel frame.

Bedford Giant blackberry plant with hazel frame.

 

Blackberry wrapped around hazel frame to keep growth confined.

Blackberry wrapped around hazel frame to keep growth confined.

 

Just been picked!

Just been picked!

Unfortunately, while most of the fruit trees are coming to life and bearing fruit and color, our once beautiful wild flower meadow has almost completely died away and next week will be cut down for another year.   Beforehand however Mary intends to collect seeds from the variety of plants and save them so that we might have as spectuacular a wild flower meadow next year! Here’s hoping…..

Wildflowers dying off while Mary collects some seeds for next year.

Wildflowers dying off while Mary collects some seeds for next year.

 

An example of some seeds.

An example of some seeds.

We should have lots more to report on next week! It’s a really exciting time of year with all the fruit coming into season, so, plenty of color, smells and tastes to experience, but, all that shall be covered in due course! 🙂

Until next time……

Mary; How Does the Garden Grow! 17th July 2014

Lets talk apples!

The orchard of Rothe House garden is baking in the sun this week for sure, the ripening fruit talking in the rays and filling out nicely.  A wander through the 42 apple trees reveals an array of different shape trees and apples, color and texture.  Now would be an appropriate time to consult Mary, our gardener for a lesson on all things ‘apple’ related so that we might be able to tell one variety from another!

Mary explained the layout of the orchard, how the trees were 15 feet apart and in similar pollination groups.  The trees are grown on a M26 root stock which produced medium sized trees, this is important as it keeps them manageable and well proportioned to the size of the garden and not over powering.  Mary expects that the trees should grow to an approximate height of 25 feet!  An impressive site for the future no doubth; these mature well filled out apple trees!

So, the tree varieties, as mentioned there are 42 apple tree; this includes 6 variety of apples.  These varieties, like all the other plants in the garden are authentic to the 17th century and include Blood of the Boyne, Irish Peach, Lady Fingers, Scarlet and Brown Crofton and Kerry Pippin.  All these apples are ‘eaters’, with all but the Blood of the Boyne being ‘dual purpose’, meaning they are either an eater or desert apple.

So, a blog about different varieties of trees would not be complete without pictures of said apples…..

Blood of the Boyne

Blood of the Boyne.

Its not difficult to see how this particular variety of apple got its name! Its deep red blood like apples with there waxy coating that polish up beautifully with a quick rub.  Easily my favourite just on appearance! Blood of the Boyne are indeed the real eye catcher in the orchard! Unfortunately I cant convey their beautiful aroma; that is something you’ll have to experience yourself.

A quick rub and she shines beautifully!

A quick rub and she shines beautifully!

Brown Crofton.

Brown Crofton.

Clusters of Brown Crofton .

Clusters of Brown Crofton .

Scarlet Crofton, an apple introduced to Ireland in the early 1600's

Scarlet Crofton, an apple introduced to Ireland in the early 1600’s

 

Scarlet Crofton tree with its drooped slender branches.

Scarlet Crofton tree with its drooped slender branches.

 

Kerry Pippin.

Kerry Pippin.

Kerry Pippin tree laden down with fruit.

Kerry Pippin tree laden down with fruit.

 

Clusters of Kerry Pippin.

Clusters of Kerry Pippin.

IMG_0024

Irish Peach.

IMG_0025

Irish Peach tree, tall with with slender drooping branches.

 

Long slender apples known as Lady Fingers.

Long slender apples known as Lady Fingers.

So, now do you know your Blood of the Boyne from your Scarlett Crofton, or your Kerry Pippin from your Brown Crofton? No, me neither, perhaps as they say the proof is in the tasting!  But for tasting we’ll have to wait another little while.  Blood of the Boyne, Irish Peach and Kerry Pippin will be ready to harvest in August.  Brown Crofton will be ready come September and finally the Lady Fingers and Scarlett Crofton will be ripe in October.

So, how do you like them apples?! 😉

 

Mary; How does the Garden Grow?! 10th July 2014

Hi all,

We hope you enjoyed last weeks first entry of our new garden blog and that it gave you a good overview of what the garden has to offer and also, just a taster for the many topics that can and will be covered over the coming weeks and months.

The weather has been somewhat hit and miss over the past number of days, but Wednesday, the 9th of July when this ‘not so green fingered, but eager to learn’ blog composer headed for the garden on what was a spectacularly nice evening to see just what our gardener, Mary, was up to this week.

Seems the rain and sunshine combined has really brought out the growth in the garden; there’s a lot happening!  But, we thought this week we’d look at the vegetable area and other goods producing plants.  As we mentioned last week, the vegetable beds are closest to the house and in these I was shown the chives; in fact, two examples!  The first was fresh a light green, the other, somewhat more ‘woody’ and had flowers on top that were starting to die off.  I was instructed by Mary that the fresher chive plant had been cut back recently to promote fresh growth and to stop the spread of seeds and the latter had yet to be done.  Of course, a taste was required; delicious!

 

Chive seeds.

Chive seeds.

 

Mary instructing where the chive plant will be cut back to.

Mary instructing where the chive plant will be cut back to.

 

Fresh regrowth after being cut back.

Fresh regrowth after being cut back.

The same bed also contains cabbages which are really starting to fill out now; some more so than others!  On closer inspection its evident that something has been taking a nibble of the young leafs!  A number of small, but ragged holes in the leafs are the tell tale sign of caterpillars which cleverly are an almost identical shade of green as the cabbage itself (probably no wonder with so much our our cabbage in them! They do say you become what you eat?!) and needless to say, very small.  Turning over the leaf reveals them.  In the garden no pesticides or other such treatments or chemicals are used on the plants, thus, removing these critters is an arduous process and taking care of them, well, not for the squeamish!

Caterpillar on the leaf of the cabbage plant.

Caterpillar on the leaf of the cabbage plant.

 

The result of caterpillar activity.

The result of caterpillar activity.

 

Starting to fill out and less prone to hosting hunger caterpillars too.

Starting to fill out and less prone to hosting hunger caterpillars too.

 

Another variety of cabbage known as Kale, or, commonly as 'Ragged Jack'.

Another variety of cabbage known as Kale, or, commonly as ‘Ragged Jack’.

 

Beetroot is also a bed fellow to the cabbage and chives; growing in abundance and ready for plucking.  I was instructed that this beetroot is simply delicious when boiled, salted and sliced; I’ve yet to try this as my only preconception, or, knowledge of beetroot up to this point was that which you purchased, in a jar, chopped and with a tangy taste.  Never had I seen on ‘in the raw’ or literally pulled from the ground!

Beet root plants.

Beet root plants.

 

Plucked from the ground! Couldn't get any fresher than that!

Plucked from the ground! Couldn’t get any fresher than that!

 

 
Speaking of being plucked from the ground, another two that were at the same time pulled were carrots and a bulb of (very strong it must be said!) garlic!  The garlic, planted in December is well rooted, pulling by hand wont work as it only serves to pull the stem and leafs from the bulb; a little digging is required!

 

Freshly pulled carrots.

Freshly pulled carrots.

 

Garlic bulb playing hard to get!

Garlic bulb playing hard to get!

 

If carrots, beetroot and garlic weren’t enough for me it seems I was in for a treat and not only would my dinner, but also my salad sandwiches be sorted as there was a head of, unusual looking, ‘Marvel of Four Seasons’ lettuce that could be pulled.  These lettuce plants were accompanied by another unusual variety of lettuce called Garnet Oak Leaf, named after its leafs which resemble the leafs of an oak tree.  The garnet is prone to wilting quite quick after being pulled, so, a head of Marvel of Four Seasons was pulled.

 

Marvel of Four Season lettuce.

Marvel of Four Season lettuce.

 

Garnet Oak Leaf lettuce.

Garnet Oak Leaf lettuce.

 

Up she comes!

Up she comes!

 

 

 

Another task, which is taking place further up the garden is that of picking the gooseberries!  Mary has been working away at this for the past number of days!  The fruit is quite plentiful and it takes patience and time to pick them.  Once picked its a simple case of ‘top and tail’ them and have a taste.  They’re very sweet!   These gooseberries will be stored and used for making jam or perhaps even gooseberry pie; watch this space.   The bright red Morello cherries were hard to miss further up from the gooseberry plants.  They are a little sour, but, could have been more so if I had not been instructed to go for the darker red/scarlet colored cherries as opposed to the bright red ones on offer!!

Gooseberries ready to be picked.

Gooseberries ready to be picked.

 

Mary showing how to 'top and tail' the berries by removing the little stubs.

Mary showing how to ‘top and tail’ the berries by removing the little stubs.

 

Picked berries ready to go!

Picked berries ready to go!

 

Cherries; these are the one you dont want to eat.

Cherries; these are the ones you don’t want to eat.

Well, we hope you’ve enjoyed this weeks blog entry and, like me, learned a thing or two!  Theres so much to discover and learn about in the garden and with Mary’s expert advice we’ll cover all, if not most of these!  But, in the meantime if any of you have any questions, queries, or perhaps particular topics you’d like to see covered then please dont hesitate to get in touch!

Until next time!

Rothe House & Garden seeks Executive Manager

rothe house 17 june 14

Rothe House Trust Ltd. is seeking to appoint an experienced Executive Manager to lead the organisation through an exciting period of change.

Rothe House and Garden, a landmark in Kilkenny city, is the only example of an early 17th century merchant’s townhouse in Ireland.  It is situated on the newly-branded ‘Ireland’s Medieval Mile’ in Kilkenny. The Garden has been open since 2008 and is a reconstruction of an early 17th century urban garden.

The House and Garden are owned by the Kilkenny Archaeological Society, and managed by Rothe House Trust.  The House is open to the public as a museum, displaying some of the 2,500 historic artefacts collected by the Society since its founding in 1947. The Trust runs training courses and an educational programme and is the centre for Irish genealogy in Kilkenny city and county.

The Board is currently in the process of implementing ambitious plans to re-present the building and collection to position Rothe House and Garden as a state-of-the-art visitor attraction on ‘Ireland’s Medieval Mile’.

Reporting to the Board, the successful candidate will be responsible for implementing the business plan to re-present the building and collection as well as managing all day-to-day operations for this busy tourist attraction.

Applicants should hold a third level qualification with a good understanding of conservation and heritage management practice, local history and cultural heritage tourism. A third level qualification in Project Management, Human Resource Management, Arts and / or Heritage Management will be a distinct advantage.

For more information and an application pack, please email chair@rothehouse.com

The closing date for applications is 23rd July 2014 at 5:00 by e-mail only. If you would like to discuss this opportunity further, please contact Colm Murray at 086 852 6508 between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m. daily.

 

We welcome applications from all sections of the community.