Rothe House

Medieval Merchants House

Centrally located on one of the bustling commercial streets of the medieval town of Kilkenny is this wonderfully preserved house of the wealthy John Rothe, Rose Archer and their 12 children. It is the only remaining example of a 16-17th century merchant's townhouse in Ireland. We decided to include Rothe House as it is an important element of Kilkenny’s medieval heritage and because we thoroughly enjoyed the self-guided tour of the complex. It was a fascinating glimpse at the life of a wealthy merchant's family. The tract of land on which it was built was originally owned by the Cistercian monks from Graiguenemanagh but was ceased after the dissolution of the monasteries. Remarkably, this tract of land has remained intact since the 13th century.

The house is actually three houses built one behind the other, each three storey's and connected by courtyards. The first house completed in 1594 was most likely used for business on the ground floor while the family lived upstairs. This house included the Phelan room and the Lanigan room, pictured above.

As the family grew the second house was completed in 1604 and included additional family rooms. This house was restored in 1890 by it's owner which creates a contrast in architecture between the 17th century first house and the now 19th century architecture of the 2nd house. We really enjoyed exploring each nook and cranny and meandering across the courtyards from house to house.

The third house completed in 1610 contained a kitchen with a large hearth and a bake oven on the ground floor, pictured left. It was reconstructed in the 1990's by it's current owners, the Kilkenny Archaeology Society. The Rothe family was dispossessed of the property when Cromwell laid siege to Kilkenny in the 1650's. Behind the third house are the gardens which stretch back to the City Walls, including an orchard which was being replanted when we toured the house. Using evidence from an archaeological dig, the gardens, pictured below have been planted to look much like they did in the early 17th century with vegetables and herbs for medicine found in those times.

Situated: Very Easy. Located on the left hand side of Parliament Street as you head North. There is an admission fee.

Discovery Map 67: S 504 561. Last visit March 2011.

Longitude:  7° 15' 16" W

Latitude: 52° 39' 16" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey and Deb Snelson.

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