rothe house and gardens, kilkenny



I had given the Rothe House and gardens a mention before and I had noted it was on my to do list. And I did go. Sunday 25th October 2009.

I wanted to go on the Sunday morning/ afternoon, but unusual for me to assume different, on Sunday it only opens between 3-5pm. I also really [no offence] only wished to visit the gardens.

Their website describes it as an ‘early 17th century Irish urban garden’. But it was the front of one of their brochures that caught my eye….

Rothe Garden Kikenny. Your chance to ‘own’ a piece of a medieval garden



I was very intrigued… I’ve visited, researched and been awarded for the design and build of a 17th Century Garden… so this was going to be some treat… ?

The South East Ireland gardens guide tells me that it is only €2 to see the gardens and €5 to see the house and gardens. I went to pay in. I was told €5 multiplied by two. I paid. Money [the amount of that is]  aside, if I had known in advace the ‘price structure’ I would have only paid in to see the gardens.

The question then is to the gardens themselves. Are they 17th century….? Are they medieval…? Honestly, not in my opinion. Or shall I rephrase yes there are fruit trees planted and yes there are vegetables growing. Was I impressed to the standard of…? Not really, being honest.

I am not trying to be disrespectful here. I’m not trying to knock the Rothe House trust who I must admit have done amazing work on the house and the displays within the building. It really does deserve applause and admiration. The work on the [re]construction of building internally and externally is superb.

But with regard to the gardens, if I was simply told that there are some gardens attached and it is €2 in to see them…. would I pay it and would I have any complaints…? Not one.

There are positives. I admire the fact that the brail signs are there; that one can have a tree planted in their or a loved ones name. That visitors were simply sitting and enjoying each others company is also a truly wonderful sight; it is very serene and there really are some nice pieces within… That said, the overall design leaves a lot to be considered. [Although] possibly a factor of funding, the gardens are also young and for them to mature and come into their own will take time. On a side note I should also add that the gardens are particularly well maintained.

The point of this weblog is not to be bold in my writing. But whether the entry is €2 or €200 the question is how honest in my appraisal should I be and more importantly would I recommend for you to visit the gardens…. ? Not really.

UPDATE: 15th Dec ’09 The Rothe House responds

there are more photographs here

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2 replies
  1. Roisin McQuillan
    Roisin McQuillan says:

    I stumbled across your blog this morning, and read with interest your comments on the Rothe Garden, in Kilkenny. It’s unfortunate that you didn’t raise your concerns directly with the management and staff of Rothe House Trust initially, as we could have perhaps addressed them to your satisfaction.

    As you correctly state in your original entry about Rothe Garden (following the Bloom Festival), the property is privately owned and maintained, and as such resources dictate our opening times. On Sundays, we are fortunate to have the services of volunteers from the Kilkenny Archaeological Society who open the House & Garden to the public on a limited basis. The whole property is open 6 days a week throughout the year, offering a choice of visiting times to everyone.

    I don’t know if you indicated at the time of paying your admission fee that you only wished to see the garden? If so, you would certainly have been asked for the garden fee only, i.e. €2.00, and would have been directed to the Garden specifically. You would have been given an admission ticket which clearly states that there is an option to visit the House & Garden, or the Garden only, and your money would have been refunded to you if you had made clear your wish to only see the Garden.

    We are sorry that you were disappointed with the Garden. As you indicate in your blog, it is a young garden (only open since April 2008) and as such will take time to mature. Thank you for your kind words about the maintenance – we employ a full-time Gardener to ensure it is kept in good condition. Mary’s role also includes sourcing the oldest possible varieties of plants, and ensuring that only plants which would have grown in the 17th century are used.

    The design of the garden is based on archaeological evidence and secondary sources, as indicated in the guide book which you would have been issued on arrival. An extensive archaeological dig determined the use of the long vegetable beds, the positions of the ornamental trees and the extent of the orchard. The objective of the project was the reconstruction of the original garden site, using all the available knowledge and information.

    We appreciate your kind words about the serenity of the garden, and certain features within it, and indeed your terrific photographs. I would like to issue an invitation to you to come back to the Rothe Garden (perhaps in the Spring or Summer, when the garden is looking its best?), when Mary Hanlon, Head Gardener, and I would be delighted to meet you and discuss the points mentioned in your blog. Please contact me on my mobile phone below.

    We are very proud of our ‘early 17th century Irish urban garden’, which is the only one of its type in Ireland.
    With many kind regards

    Róisín McQuillan
    Manager, Rothe House & Garden
    Mobile: [O2prefix] 2321275

  2. Peter Donegan MI Hort
    Peter Donegan MI Hort says:

    A Chara Roisín,

    Thank you sincerely for taking the time to comment.

    Firstly to reply to your points made.
    I didn’t really have any major concerns to be raised, as such. At the time I just left a little disappointed.

    The fact that I could request a €2 entry was something I was unaware of until I read the ‘south east garden guide’ to be very honest. The ticket stub did say so but I got this after I paid and I’m just one of those fellows that puts the receipt in my pocket without even looking.

    As I said I reckoned budgets [they usually/ logically are] should be taken into consideration and from a grounds point of view I was correct to assume and I feel I did and gave a very honest/ open appraisal.

    The building was very interesting and I’m glad that I did visit them, but from a weblog [garden] point of view, my leaning was obviously more to the great outdoors.

    Mary, your gardener is doing a great job as a by the way. The grounds were pristine. But to the design and layout and youth – once again it was noticable that budgets played a role. However, money aside, the question is would I give a 10/ 10 score based on that reason…. probably not. I’m nodding my head and agreeing with you as you read this that yes these things take time – and once again the trust has done very well here…. but mature garden are either bought instant – or grown with patience 😉 A fact that I am only too well aware of. Once again the point of my writing here is not to achieve a negative of any format.

    On a side note, there are many gardens that I have visited and you are one of very few – if not the very first to comeback and take the positives from ‘feedback’ [?]/ comments. I applaud you for this and I believe the entire online [and offline] community would see this in the exact same light.

    It would be an honour to go back to visit the rothe house gardens and have a chat with both you and Mary. Thank you very much for the invitation.

    Is mise le meas

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