a Story of Strength & Resilience

In the heart of Kilkenny,
Ireland, Rothe House & Garden,
a historic marvel dating back
to the 17th century, awaits

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Discover Rothe House: History Reborn Today

Restored with unwavering dedication, it stands as a testament to resilience and restoration, a cherished relic of Ireland’s past. As the sole survivor of its kind, Rothe House commands reverence, its sturdy walls echoing centuries of history and significance. Yet, amidst its esteemed stature, it remains an independent haven, drawing seekers of authenticity to its unique charm. Journey through time as you explore its weathered corridors, each step unveiling a new layer of the past.

Tranquil history, authenticity, amidst vibrant blooms.

Amidst the tranquil gardens and vibrant blooms, find solace and serenity—a respite from the chaos of modern life. Rothe House embodies the power of restoration and the enduring allure of the unconventional. As a beacon of authenticity in a world often overshadowed by the mundane, it invites you to explore its rich history. Wander through its historic halls, soak in the meticulously preserved details, and embrace the magic of history reborn. Experience a unique blend of heritage and tranquility that only Rothe House can offer.


Restoration Work

The restoration of Rothe House & Garden stands as a testament to unwavering dedication and meticulous preservation.

Each stone, each bloom, carries the weight of centuries past, carefully tended to breathe new life into this cherished relic of Ireland’s heritage. Amidst the tranquil gardens, vibrant with life, echoes of history resound through the meticulously restored halls. This endeavour embodies the enduring allure of restoration, transforming Rothe House into a beacon of authenticity amidst the chaos of modernity. It invites visitors to wander its historic corridors, to immerse themselves in the magic of a by gone era reborn.

History & Background 

Our History

  • Middle Ages


    Earl Marshall founded the (Anglo-Norman) town of Kilkenny and laid out High Street with burgage plots. The much older Irishtown existed outside the Norman jurisdiction around St. Canice’s Cathedral.

  • 1348

    Plague in Kilkenny. Friar John Clyn in the Franciscan Abbey across the road recorded the effect of the plague on the town and the friary. He himself fell victim to the epidemic

  • 1384-1536

    Cistercian Monks of Duiske Abbey in Graiguenamanagh had abbot’s merchant house on this plot (see the well in garden).

  • Tudor Era


    Suppression and dissolution of monasteries – plot went to the Earl of Ormonde in Kilkenny Castle.

  • 1594

    John Rothe Fitz-Piers and his wife Rose Archer built the first house fronting onto what is now Parliament Street. Before, they had lived in Back Lane (now Kieran Street, closer to St. Mary’s Church, now the Medieval Mile Museum).

  • 1604

    Second Rothe House built, as Rothe family grew to include 11 children.

  • 1609

    James I granted Kilkenny a charter, making it a city. John Rothe was one of its first aldermen.

  • 1610

    Third Rothe House built. Peter Rothe Fitzjohn (“son of John”) married Lettice Lawless.

  • 1613

    Third Rothe House built. Peter Rothe Fitzjohn (“son of John”) married Lettice Lawless.

  • 1619

    John Rothe wrote his will making provisions to be buried in the family tomb built in St. Mary’s Church. His son Peter entered national politics as an MP and became one of Kilkenny’s leading citizens.

  • 1620

    John Rothe died, leaving the bulk of his estate upon his death in 1620 to his eldest son Peter. John’s wife Rose continued living in the second house.

    Rothe House Family Tree
  • Confederation and
    Cromwell’s time


    The Catholic Confederation met in Kilkenny. A Confederation flag was found behind wood panelling in Rothe House. A replica of Confederation Flag is on display in the Phelan Room, the original is kept in the National Museum in Dublin.

  • 1650

    Plague hit Kilkenny again – took severe toll in garrison and Irishtown. Cromwell took Kilkenny – Royalists were banished, including Peter Rothe’s family. The Cromwellians kept Edward Rothe (great-nephew of Bishop Rothe) hostage to ensure terms of treaty are honoured. Bishop David Rothe dies attempting to leave the City and is buried in the Rothe family tomb in St. Mary’s Church (now Medieval Mile Museum).

  • 19th Century


    Michael and John Banim attended George Buchanan’s school at Rothe House. Under the pseudonym The O’Hara Family, they later described the spiral staircase in the 2nd house in their novel Father Connell.

  • 1849

    Kilkenny Archaeological Society was founded – later became the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (RSAI) and moved to Dublin. The Kilkenny Archaeological Society is re-founded in 1945.

  • 1858-1899

    Several groups of tenants lived on the premises. Some of their photographs are on display in the first house. However, the buildings fell into decay. Among the tenants was Fenian Richard De Loughry, an iron founder. He lived in the second house with his family. He used the second courtyard for cockfighting and the third for his foundry. A black outline of its roof is still visible in the 3rd courtyard.

  • 1897

    Timothy O’Hanrahan purchased Rothe House and restored the 2nd house for use by the Gaelic League. A plaque in the second courtyard in the Irish language serves as a reminder.

  • 1899

    The houses are declared “unfit for residency”.

  • 20th Century


    The Kilkenny branch of the Gaelic League was founded. They met in the now called MacDonagh room in the 2nd house since Thomas MacDonagh had been one of the teachers. The Gaelic League continued to use that room until 2018.

  • 1903

    Eileen Cronin arrived in Kilkenny from Cork to teach Irish for Gaelic League. She also went on to teach Irish dance. Legend has it that her mother sent a piece of Eileen’s coat to Kilkenny by post beforehand, so she could be recognized by whoever would pick her up from the train station. The Cronin room is named after her in honour of her achievements.

  • 1918

    Lá na mBan: Irish women nationwide protest conscription. The ledger with their signatures is kept in “Rothe’s Arch“ (probably today’s MacDonagh room) for women to sign. This Kilkenny list of 1015 women is now the only one surviving in the whole country. Irish teacher Eileen Cronin was amongst the first women to sign.

    Rectangle 16023
  • 1917-1936

    Front shop leased by Delaney (butcher), Butler and Campion (publican).

  • 1945

    Re-founding of Kilkenny Archaeological Society.
Its members’ donations form the collections in Rothe House Museum.

  • 1962

    Kilkenny Archaeological Society purchased Rothe House. With the help of fundraising and public funds, they restored the complex and opened the first and second house to the public as a museum in 1966.

  • 1968

    Kilkenny Tourist Information located in the first house.
Micheál Mac Liammóir performed “I Must be Talking to my Friends” in Rothe House.

  • 21st Century


    Rothe House Trust Ltd was established with full charitable status.

  • 2008

    The restored garden was opened to the public.

Archaeological Society 

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Further Reading 

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Rothe House & Garden 

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


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