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KILKENNY TOWN, County Kilkenny

63a. Kilkenny Castle & Kilkenny Design Centre

Butler House and the medieval Butler Tower

Kilkenny

SCENES from IRELAND - County Kilkenny


63a. Kilkenny Castle and Design Centre 63b. Rothe House * 63c. Kilkenny Cathedral * 63d. The 'Black Abbey'

63e. St Mary's Medieval Mile Museum * 63f St Mary's Catholic Cathedral


Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle dates from the 12th century but much remodelled in Victorian times and set in extensive parkland open to the public. Kilkenny Castle was the seat of the Butler family.

Kilkenny Castle entrance

 

Kilkenny Castle Design Centre

The entrance to Kilkenny Castle.

 

Kilkenny Castle Design Centre

The inner courtyard of Kilkenny Castle.

 

Kilkenny Castle Design Centre Kilkenny Castle Design Centre

Statues in the grounds of Kilkenny Castle.

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Kilkenny Castle Design Centre

 

Kilkenny Castle garden

Part of the garden grounds of Kilkenny Castle.

Kilkenny castle fountain

 

Kilkenny

The great fountain in the gardens of Kilkenny Castle.

 

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Kilkenny castle garden

 

 

Kilkenny

 

Kilkenny castle art gallery Kilkenny
Kilkenny Kilkenny
Kilkenny Kilkenny castle art gallery cafe

The Butler Gallery (free entry, you pay for the Kilkenny Castle tour) and the adjacent Castle Tea Room cafe

The work of Eamon O'Kane

 

 

Kilkenny Castle above the River Nore

The River Nore below Kilkenny Castle.

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Kilkenny Design Centre and Galleries

KilkennyDesign Centre and Galleries

Castle Yard of Kilkenny Design Centre, Kilkenny

 

Kilkenny Castle Design Centre

The Kilkenny Design Centre is opposite Kilkenny Castle.

 

Kilkenny Kilkenny
Kilkenny Kilkenny
Kilkenny Kilkenny

Some of the shops and cafe in the Kilkenny Design Centre, Kilkenny.

 

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Kilkenny Castle Design Centre Kilkenny Castle Design Centre
Kilkenny Castle Design Centre Kilkenny Castle Design Centre
Kilkenny Castle Design Centre Kilkenny Castle Design Centre

Some of the art galleries in the Kilkenny Design Centre, Kilkenny.

Kilkenny

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The National Craft Gallery in the Kilkenny Design Centre, Kilkenny. Kilkenny
Kilkenny National Craft Gallery Kilkenny
Kilkenny Kilkenny National Craft Gallery

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Kilkenny Butler House

Butler House and Gardens, beyond the Kilkenny Design Centre, but the front is in Patrick Street

The history of Butler House (adapted from Wikipedia): Butler House is an 18th-century Georgian Dower house located in Kilkenny, Ireland. It is currently working as a 4-star hotel and conference centre. Butler House was built so that it was completed by 1786 as the Dower house for Kilkenny Castle. It was built by Walter Butler, 16th Earl of Ormonde for his wife to live in when their son John Butler, 17th Earl of Ormonde inherited the title. The first occupant was Lady Eleanor Butler, though it isn't certain if she and her husband moved in before his death. Her son John was the 17th Earl, who regained the title and re-energised the family fortunes, and her daughter, Eleanor was one of the Ladies of Llangollen. James Butler, 1st Marquess of Ormonde lived in the house while he was doing significant reconstruction work on the Castle 1831. A local cholera epidemic in 1832 meant that the family used the house as the site of a soup kitchen. The house was substantially extended about this time as well. The Royal Historical and Archaeological Association of Ireland, now the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, was homed in the house in the 1870s. The house was refurbished in the 1970s by the Kilkenny Design Workshops which had taken over the Castle yard and house in 1965. In 1989 the house was opened as a hotel and conference centre and is owned and managed by the Kilkenny Civic Trust. The gardens were restored to their previous glory in 2000. Architecturally it is a classic Georgian three-bay three-storey over basement house with a pair of three full-height bowed bays to the east side of the house facing into the walled garden which backs onto the Castle Yard and stables to Kilkenny Castle. The hotel retained many of the historic characteristics including the well-preserved rooms.

KilkennyKilkenny

On the right the front entrance to Butler House, Kilkenny.

 

Kilkenny Butler TowerKilkenny

The Butler Tower and a 'bit of wall', once part of the defences of medieval Kilkenny.

 


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More on the history of Kilkenny Castle (adapted from Wikipedia)

Kilkenny Castle (Irish: Caisleán Chill Chainnigh) is a castle in Kilkenny, Ireland built in 1195 to control a fording-point of the River Nore and the junction of several routes. It was a symbol of Norman occupation and in its original thirteenth-century condition it would have formed an important element of the defences of the town with four large circular corner towers and a massive ditch, part of which can still be seen today on the Parade.

The property was transferred to the people of Kilkenny in 1967 for £50[1] and the castle and grounds are now managed by the Office of Public Works. The gardens and parkland adjoining the castle are open to the public. The Parade Tower is a conference venue. Awards and conferring ceremonies of the graduates of "Kilkenny Campus" of National University of Ireland, Maynooth have been held there since 2002.

Kilkenny Castle has been an important site since Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, commonly known as Strongbow constructed the first castle, probably a wooden structure, in the 12th century. The Anglo-Normans had established a castle in 1173, possibly on the site of an earlier residence of the Mac Giolla Phádraig kings of Osraighe. Kilkenny formed part of the lordship of Leinster, which was granted to Strongbow. Strongbow’s daughter and heiress, Isabel married William Marshall in 1189. The Earl Marshall owned large estates in Ireland, England, Wales and France and managed them effectively. He appointed Geoffrey fitz Robert as seneschal of Leinster and so began a major phase of development in Kilkenny, including the construction of Kilkenny Castle and the agreement of rents and privileges with burgesses or citizens of the borough. The first stone castle on the site, was completed in 1213. This was a square-shaped castle with towers at each corner; three of these original four towers survive to this day

James Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormonde, bought the castle in 1391 and established himself as ruler of the area. The powerful Butler family were to be the owners of the castle for over 500 years. In 1967 James Arthur Butler, 6th Marquess of Ormonde, sold Kilkenny Castle to Kilkenny Castle Restoration Committee for £50 after a period of neglect.


Kilkenny Castle is the signature symbol of the Mediaeval city. The Kilkenny Castle Restoration Committee handed the castle over to the State, and it has since been refurbished and is open to visitors. There are ornamental gardens on the city side of the castle, and extensive land and gardens to the front. It has become one of the most visited tourist sites in Ireland. Now a property in state care. Part of the National Art Gallery is on display in the castle.

A potted history: Richard de Clare (also known as Strongbow) and other Norman knights came to Kilkenny in 1172, the high ground beside the River Nore was as an ideal site on which to build a wooden tower. He built a wooden castle of the type known as motte-and-bailey.
This strategic site was where the local Kings of Osraige had their chief residence before the Norman invasion. Twenty years later, de Clare's son-in-law, William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, built the first stone castle on the site, of which three towers still remain. The castle was owned by the seneschal of Kilkenny Sir Gilbert De Bohun who inherited the county of Kilkenny and castle from his mother in 1270, in 1300 he was outlawed by Edward I but was reinstated in 1303, he held the castle until his death in 1381. It was not granted to his heir Joan, but seized by the crown and sold to the Butler family.

The Castle became the seat to a very powerful family, the Butlers of Ormonde. The Butler family (who changed their name from FitzWalter in 1185) arrived in Ireland with the Norman invasion. They originally settled in Gowran where James Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormonde built Gowran Castle in 1385. The family had become wealthy and James bought Kilkenny Castle in 1391 and established himself as ruler of the area. The Butler dynasty then ruled the surrounding area for centuries. Many of the family, including James, 3rd Earl of Ormonde are buried in St. Mary's Collegiate Church Gowran.

Among the many notable members of the Butler family was Lady Margaret Butler (c. 1454 or 1465–1539) the Irish noblewoman, the daughter of Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormond. Lady Margaret Butler was born in Kilkenny Castle. She married Sir William Boleyn and was the paternal grandmother of Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII of England.

By the 18th century, the castle had become run down, reflecting the failing fortunes of the Butler family. However, some restoration was carried out by Anne Wandesford of Castlecomer, who brought wealth back into the family upon marrying John Butler, 17th Earl of Ormonde. In the 19th century, the Butlers then attempted to restore it to its original medieval appearance, also rebuilding the north wing and extending the south curtain wall. More extensions were added in 1854. In 1904, King Edward VII of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and his wife Queen Alexandra visited Kilkenny Castle.

In the 20th century the Castle continued to be the principal seat of the Marquesses of Ormonde and their families until 1919, when James Butler, 3rd Marquess of Ormonde died. As Lord Ormonde had only two daughters, it was agreed that in order to reduce the double-taxation of the estate that his brother and heir, Arthur Butler, 4th Marquess of Ormonde would forgo his inheritance in favour of his son, George Butler, 5th Marquess of Ormonde who used the courtesy title 'Earl of Ossory'. Lord and Lady Ossory took up residence in the Castle in 1921, with their children Antony, Viscount Thurles and Lady Moyra Butler. In the 1920s and 30s, the succession of the title and estates seemed secure, with three generations of direct male heirs still living. In 1938, Arthur, George and Antony Butler agreed to resettle the Trust in which the estates were held.

George Butler, Earl of Ossory and his family remained living in the castle until 1935, when they sold its contents for £6,000, moved to London, and abandoned it for thirty years. The impact of rising taxes, death duties, economic depression and living costs had taken their toll. While the Ormondes had received £22,000 in rental income in the 1880s, investment income in the 1930s was in the region of £9,000 and by 1950 these investments yielded only £850. They disposed of the bulk of their tenanted estates in Tipperary and Kilkenny, 21,000 acres (85 km²), by 1915 for £240,000. Death duties and expenses following the death of James Butler, 3rd Marquess of Ormonde in 1919 amounted to £166,000.

Antony Butler, Viscount Thurles died unexpectedly in 1940, and therefore after the death of the 4th Marquess in 1943 and the 5th Marquess in 1949, the estate was inherited by Arthur Butler, 6th Marquess and 24th Earl of Ormonde. In 1967, this Lord Ormonde sold the abandoned and deteriorating castle to the Castle Restoration Committee for a ceremonial £50, with the statement: "The people of Kilkenny, as well as myself and my family, feel a great pride in the Castle, and we have not liked to see this deterioration. We determined that it should not be allowed to fall into ruins. There are already too many ruins in Ireland." He also bought the land in front of the castle from the trustees "in order that it should never be built on and the castle would be seen in all its dignity and splendour". The handover ceremony also marked the foundation of The Butler Society,[5] a still thriving organisation that connects, preserves and unites a family once dominant in the British Isles. Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull turned up at the castle hand over party, with Jagger telling the newspapers "We just came to loon about."

In the Confederate Ireland of the 17th century, the castle came into the hands of Elizabeth Preston, wife of then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, another James Butler, also 12th Earl and 1st Duke of Ormonde. Butler, unlike most of his family, was a Protestant and throughout the Irish Confederate Wars of the 1640s was the representative of Charles I in Ireland. However, his castle became the capital of a Catholic rebel movement, Confederate Ireland, whose parliament or "Supreme Council" met in Kilkenny Castle from 1642-48. Ormonde himself was based in Dublin at this time. The east wall and the northeast tower of the Castle were damaged in 1650 during the siege of Kilkenny by Oliver Cromwell during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland. They were later torn down. Then, in 1661, Butler remodelled the castle as a “modern” château after his return from exile. A new entrance gateway in the south wall was built around this time.

During the Irish Civil War in 1922, Republicans were besieged in the Castle by Irish Free State forces. The Ormondes, together with their pet Pekinese, chose to remain in situ in their bedroom over the great gate, which was the main focus of attack. There was a machine gun outside their door. Only one man was injured but a great deal of damage was inflicted on the castle, which took many years to repair.

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63a. Kilkenny Castle and Design Centre 63b. Rothe House * 63c. Kilkenny Cathedral * 63d. The 'Black Abbey'

63e. St Mary's Medieval Mile Museum * 63f St Mary's Catholic Cathedral


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