Admission Members €8.00, Non Members €10.00
Isabel de Clare (c. 1172- 1220) was one of the most powerful but little- known women in British and Irish history. She was of noble Norman-Welsh and Irish ancestry and one of the wealthiest heiresses in the medieval word. At the age of 17 she was married to William Earl Marshall who is known in history as The Greatest Knight. Isabel and William came to reside in Kilkenny which was then the centre of the Kingdom of Leinster which was part of Isabel’s vast Irish inheritance from her grandfather Diarmaid Mc Murrough. At times in the absence of her husband she was responsible for ruling Leinster on her own and Kilkenny is fortunate to still have the hallmarks of this couples many developments.
“Well behaved women seldom make history” Well behaved, in this instance, are those brave enough to step outside the bounds of the conventions of the day and truly make their own history. The “Ladies of Llangollen”. Lady Eleanor Butler, daughter of the 16th Duke of Ormond, and the Honourable Sarah Ponsonby, cousin of the Earl of Bessborough.
This is a story of a passionate bond between two women that blossomed out of loneliness. They had a clear and strong sense of their feelings, but they also enjoyed the luxury and ideals of their social class. At this time, 1778, romantic friendship encompassed many aspects such as affection, devotion, sensitivity, shared interests, flirtation and so on. Eleanor and Sarah’s friendship might have been one such example. It was admired and documented for more than fifty years in various writings. A tale of happily ever after!
Marianne introduces us to her family background; marrying William and coming to live at Desart Court. Her husband’s death and becoming involved with the community. Encouraged by her brother in law Otway Cuffe she became more committed financially to local enterprises and industry.
Responsible for many other projects was Aut Even Hospital, Talbots Inch (The Garden Village), The City Library, Kilkenny Theatre, Kilkenny Woodworkers.
Honoured by Kilkenny Corporation as A Freeman of Kilkenny and nominated to the Seanad Eireann. Her declining years, death and funeral in 1933.