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.