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;
The Power Paintings
This portrait of Sir John Power of Kilfane, Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny is one of four family portraits donated to the museum.
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 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.
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.
This Cist Grave dates back approximately 4,000 years. It was discovered in Co. Carlow in the 1970s, excavated and reconstructed in the 2nd courtyard. Along with the cremated remains of two people, a magnificently carved pottery vessel was discovered which is also in the collection.
The 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.