Rothe house

Ireland’s only 16th-century merchant house stands on its original Kilkenny City plot since the 13th century, and offers a glimpse into Ireland’s rich past.

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Medieval architecture

Step back in time and
into the Great Hall of the Rothe family. 

Marvel at the restoration of the rooms, the architectural ceilings and spiral staircases and get a sense of what life was like here for one of Kilkenny’s most prominent merchant families. Imagine the hustle and bustle of family life centred around the great kitchen fireplace and the stroll in the well-designed garden that reflected John Rothe’s status and desire to impress. 

Burgage Plots

Burgage plots were parcels of land granted to freemen of chartered boroughs for building a house. The plot was as wide as the house site and stretched back from it, sometimes quite a distance, to the town walls. 


Rothe House & Garden tours

Our Tours

Guided Tour

10.00 pp
60 Mins
1-20 People

Tour Information:

The best way to experience Rothe House is on a guided tour with one of our expert guides. Hear the fascinating story of the rise and fall of the Rothe family, and the journey to restoration for their ‘once noble mansion’. Enjoy the garden at your leisure after your tour. 


11.30 and 14.30  


11.30 and 14.30 


Self Guided Tour

8.50 pp
45 Mins

Tour Information:

If you prefer to explore at your leisure you can take a self-guided visit anytime during opening hours. Enjoy the history, architecture and artefacts throughout the house, courtyards and garden at your own pace.


Museum Must-sees

A Treasure Trove of Discoveries

  • Giant Irish Deer

    Giant Irish Deer

    Imagine encountering a creature that vanished over 10,000 years ago. At Rothe House, you can come face-to-face with the skull and antlers of a giant deer, unearthed just north of Kilkenny city in Swiftsheath. This magnificent beast once towered over 2 metres tall! 

  • 17th Century Table

    17th Century Table

    Kilkenny Archaeological Society recently acquired a 17th-century refectory table, generously donated by an anonymous patron from a private Irish collection. Imagine grand meals shared around this sturdy oak table. With carved details on the table’s  frieze, varied and turned legs connected by elegant moulded stretchers, the intricacy hints at the craftsmanship of the era. 

  • King Post Truss Roof

    King Post Truss Roof

    This magnificent ceiling showcases a king post truss, a design used for centuries to create strong, open spaces. Imagine the skilled builders who crafted this impressive structure, its central beam a testament to their ingenuity. This feature is just one aspect of the meticulous restoration completed in the 1960s, bringing Rothe House back to its former glory. 

  • The Ros Tapestry: A TaleTold in Thread 

    The Ros Tapestry: A TaleTold in Thread 

    Journey through 25 years of dedication at the Ros Tapestry. Stitched in New Ross, County Wexford, this project brings Ireland’s Norman past to life. Fourteen vibrant panels depicting Norman history are on display in Kilkenny Castle. Rothe House proudly hosts the creation of the 15th and final panel, “Battles in the Kingdom of Ossory.” Witness this masterpiece unfold before your eyes for a very limited time.

  • The Lavery Collection

    The Lavery Collection

    Step into the world of Sir John Lavery, a renowned early 20th-century portrait painter who captured the images of London and Dublin’s elite. Lavery’s brushstrokes brought to life iconic figures like Michael Collins and Edward Carson. Rothe House is proud to display a glimpse into Lavery’s artistic genius with a self-portrait (1909) and a portrait of his wife, Lady Hazel Lavery (1926). Lady Lavery’s captivating beauty wasn’t just captured on canvas—her portrait graced Irish banknotes for much of the 20th century.

  • Collection of Curiosities

    Collection of Curiosities

    Archaeological digs unearthed a treasure trove of over 2,000 artefacts right here in the garden at Rothe House. These mementos from the 17th-century include exotic finds like Spanish pottery and German glassware. Daily life comes alive with coins, sturdy shoe buckles, and hairpins – perhaps worn by a servant girl to keep her hair in place. Each piece is a tiny time capsule, offering a glimpse into the lives of those who once walked these grounds.

History & Background 

Our History

  • Middle Ages


    Built in 1594, Rothe House was the business place and family home of John Rothe Fitzpiers. Married to Rose Archer, theirs was a union between two of Kilkenny’s most prominent merchant families. Along with a small cohort of wealthy merchant families they were influential in all aspects of Kilkenny’s business, political, civic and social affairs. This ‘great mansion’ was built to reflect their status in society and was a symbol of their wealth and position. 

  • Confederation and
    Cromwell’s time


    On his death in 1621, John’s son Peter inherited the house and was involved in the tumultuous political situation that was evolving in Kilkenny at the time. When Oliver Cromwell arrived in Kilkenny the Rothe family were banished to the west of Ireland where Peter died in 1654. 

  • 1700

    Over the following centuries, Rothe House fell from grace and went through years of neglect before its restoration. It was used as a brew house and maltings towards the end of the 1700s, before it became a school. 

  • 19th Century


    Over the years, there was also an iron foundry, a public house, a butcher’s shop, and a slaughterhouse on this site. By the time of the Great Famine in the 1840s, the building was a cramped, overcrowded tenement ‘unfit for human habitation’. Despite this period of neglect it was still recognised as an important landmark in Kilkenny City. The First House was purchased in 1898 by Timothy O’ Hanrahan from Co. Cork who undertook the first restoration. 

  • 20th Century


    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.

  • 21st Century


    Rothe House Trust CLG was established in 2004 to manage the property on a daily basis. 


Explore Rothe House, a
historic gem in Kilkenny.

Open daily with guided and self-guided tours available. Discover the rich history, beautiful gardens, and unique collections. Located at 16 Parliament Street in the heart of Kilkenny city. More details for your visit including opening hours and ticket prices can be found here.



Kind words from our visitors

Rothe House & Garden 

Book your tickets now and step back in time at Rothe House & Garden

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