Newsletter March 2020

Dear Friend of KAS,

This is the first newsletter of 2020 and we would like to thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter. We try to include interesting topics that hopefully is an appetizer for getting more involved with our society. We have a range of committees and activities, that are always looking for new members or volunteers. Don’t be shy, just get in touch by emailing the PR Sub-committee on the email below and we will direct your query to the right person.

February is the month of the Society’s Annual General Meeting and election of officers and council. This year the incoming president, Ann Tierney gave a wonderly tribute to our outgoing president and an inspirational inauguration speech. we have chosen to include it in this edition of our newsletter.

If you have topics or news of interest to the readers of this newsletter please contact the PR Subcommittee by email to the following address:

Happy reading from Kilkenny Archaeological Society (KAS)
Newsletter is edited by Marie Kelly, Frank Lanigan and Martin O’Faolain

News Kilkenny Archaeological Society’s 2020 AGM 

Tribute at the AGM on 26th February to KAS Past President Pat Nolan

For the past three years KAS has had an extraordinarily active president in Pat Nolan. He has served not only in the role of President but also as Co-coordinator of the Society’s programme of outings, lectures and events. He has expanded activities to include conferences, garden parties, trips overseas, pub quizzes. He has played a major part in collecting advertisements for the Old Kilkenny Review and in personally distributing it. He has represented the society on the board of Rothe House Trust.

But most of all, his enthusiasm has been infectious and it’s hard to stop him when he gets an idea into his head. You might have no intention of leading an outing or giving a talk. You turn around and see a familiar helmeted cyclist bearing down on you. And woe betide you if he happens to be organising the Christmas party – ‘would you like to play the role of Goldilocks?’ I am very pleased to be able to say that Pat will continue to co-ordinate the society’s programme for the coming year. Also, that he hasn’t disclosed any details of this year’s Christmas panto yet.

At the KAS AGM on 26th February 2020,
Ann Tierney was elected as KAS President for the year 2020-2021
Ann addressed the question of the role of the President in relation to the aims and objectives of the society.

What then are the aims and objectives of Kilkenny Archaeological Society?

The Society has had a core set of 5 aims and objects for many years. An AGM is a good time to remind us what they are:

1.  to study and record the archaeology, history and genealogy of County Kilkenny and to encourage their research.
2.  to encourage the protection, and where appropriate the conservation, of monuments, buildings, artefacts and other matters of historical interest to County Kilkenny.
3.  to promote awareness of the history and antiquities of County Kilkenny.
4.  to publish items in accordance with the Society’s objects, including an annual journal.
5.  to maintain a meeting room, museum and library.

This coming year I would like to focus my particular attention on our fourth aim – to publish items in accordance with the Society’s objects, including an annual journal.

Ever since the 1940s the society has published a journal. Members see it as a way of keeping up-to-date with the society. They sit down and dip into it, knowing it will have articles of Kilkenny interest. It’s more than that if you’re a school student, or someone trying to do research. It’s a go-to source for Kilkenny history. When you have completed your research and written it up, you can then submit your essay to the Old Kilkenny Review for possible publication. The editor and team assess all essays and articles they receive. They check referencing, correct typos. Besides that though, there is a chunk of work with the journal – collecting reports, obituaries and photographs from the society’s officers; visiting businesses around town to solicit advertising. Arrangements have to be made for design and layout and printing. When the journal is finally printed, there is packaging and distribution. Over the past few years, we were lucky enough to have had an outstanding editor in Cóilín Ó Drisceoil. The journal has now reached the stage, however, that the work required for getting it into print is too much for any one person. The work must be broken into bite-sized chunks, shared out between us all, and re-structured. Getting this new structure into place in 2020 is a priority.

Other publishing possibilities will be considered also, such as article offprints and pamphlets, together with publication on the KAS website of out-of-print issues of the journal. The KAS webmaster, editor, librarian and myself have already looked into digitisation of these back issues. In the coming year, we hope to make progress with this idea. Funding will be required but that is something we can tackle.

Sometimes I meet people who say – I have joined the society, how do I get to know people and what can I do. Some of them want to be pointed in the direction of outings or lectures, or to be told about activities connected with the museum, or the library or the local history group. Other people have ideas for new things the society could be doing, perhaps things we haven’t tried before. I hope to be a listening post for members. Not just new members, but for established members who can identify where the society might be veering away from its aims and objectives.

If I can do half of what Pat Nolan has done I’ll be doing well. I remember in the early days of his Presidency, he and Máire Downey started to reach out to other local history societies. They did this nationally as well as locally. This ambassadorial role for the society is something I hope to emulate.

In the coming year it will be an achievement if we can keep all the current activities of the society in as active and healthy a position as they are today. We have a great society and I am very proud to take on the role of president.

President Ann Tierney

News from the Kilkenny Archaeological Society’s Library

Cookery and Cures of Old Kilkenny

Recently, we looked at a book published by St Canice’s Cathedral in 1983, Cookery and Cures of Old Kilkenny. A copy is held in the KAS library. The book contains recipes, a few medicinal cures, and an interesting collection of photographs. Please see image of book cover below.

Some of the photographs are unidentified. Please see images below. If you can provide any information, it would be much appreciated. Please email:

The book gives the following caption for the photo below:
A sleepy village near Kilkenny in 1890s’.    Ideas anyone?
The caption for the photo below is ‘After dinner cigarette’. But who were they?

If you’re tempted to experiment, see, here’s a recipe from the book for brewing ale, surely similar to that which Rose Archer might have used in her gyle house at Rothe House in 1620. This recipe comes from the early nineteenth century manuscript recipe book of Anne Barton, of the Ballyline family.

To brew ale on a small scale
‘The art of brewing is exactly similar to the process of making tea – a tea kettle and two pan mugs are sufficient apparatus. Put a handful of Malt into a Teapot and fill it with water rather under boiling heat. When it has stood sometime, pour it off, and fill it up again but with boiling water. Continue pouring it off and filling it up until the malt is tasteless. Then boil the liquor with a few hops in it and when luke warm add a little yeast to ferment it and the thing is done! This is the whole process of brewing. One peck of malt and four ounces of hops will produce ten quarts of ale, much better than porter or any purchased in London.’ [Cookery & Cures of Old Kilkenny, St Canice’s Cathedral, 1983, p 64]

News from the Kilkenny Archaeological Society’s Curator

Instruments of War

Going through the collection currently stored in the old library at Rothe House I came across items used in warfare; some during the war of independence.

The grenade,(RH 60/15), was made in the arsenal which was set up as part of the de Loughry foundry in New Building Lane, Kilkenny in 1916.  De Loughry also ran a garage.This meant that he had access to motor vehicles which were vital to swift communications during the War of Independence.[1]  Peter de Loughry was an Irish Nationalist and member of the IRB.  In 1911 he married Winifred Murphy who later became President of Cumannnam Bann.  Peter de Loughry was arrested and imprisoned following the Easter Rising, and in 1919, while still in prison he was elected Mayor of Kilkenny, an office he held until 1925.[2]He was imprisoned with Éamonn de Valera, and after two failed attempts at casting a key from a wax impression, Peter organised for a blank key and a file to be smuggled into gaol in a birthday cake.  He then used his engineering skills to craft a key which worked! He was elected to Dáil Éireann  in 1927 as a Cumannnan Gaedheal TD for the Carlow-Kilkenny constituency and he died in 1931 aged 63.

The Caltraps, (RH 87/21 a,b,c), or ‘area denial weapons’, are formed like a tetrahedron such that there is always one spike pointing upwards while being supported on a firm tripod base.  They have been used, at least, since Roman times and were strewn in large numbers on the ground.They were intended to injure the feet of men, horses, camels, and, or, elephants, thus seriously impeding the advance of the enemy.  During the War of Independence, they were used to pierce the tyres of military vehicles.  It is thought that wooden pre-historic versions, later found in bogs, were used for hunting deer and other prey.[3]
Below is a small box of lead shot and three bullets.  All these objects are of particular interest and importance at this time of commemoration as they bring the viewer face to face with the perennial horror of war.

[1]Swithin Walsh, Eoin (July 2015). The War of Independence in County Kilkenny: Conflict, Politics and People (PDF) (Thesis). [accessed 24.02.20]

[2] “The Sovereigns and Mayors of Kilkenny 1282-2010”. [accessed 24.02.20]
[3]Van Creveld, Martin, Technology and War, (N.Y., The Free Press, 1991), p. 25

Coming events

Tabor Pipe and Drum

Did you ever wonder which dances John Rothe and Rose Archer did their courting to? Well, if they followed the Continental fashion, chances are they danced pavanes, galliards and branles.

We know about these dances in detail, because a French priest made notes of the dances he remembered from his youth. His name was Thoinot Arbeau (1520-1595), which was actually only his pseudonym, his real name being Jehan Tabourot. His introduction to French court and country dances was the “Orchésographie”, published first in 1589. In it, he explains every single dance, gives the sheet music and all the dance moves. He also explains social norms at a dance, all from the perspective of the man, of course. However, he actually begins the book by telling his student Capriol (the book is written in dialogue) what instruments are used. A pair commonly featuring is the tabor drum and pipe. They were used before soldiers went to war to get them into the right mood for fighting.

The tabor pipe has only three holes: one in the front and one in the back. It is held with the pinky and ring finger. It has a piercing sound, which comes in handy for playing for soldiers or in a dancing context. The reason for it only having three holes is that it can be played with only one hand. The other hand is used to play the tabor drum. The tabor, the musician, straps it under his one arm and plays rhythms laid out by Thoinot Arbeau in his book and plays the pipe at the same time. Both tabor pipes and drums are made and available today for early music enthusiasts.

Other dances Arbeau mentions are the Allemand, the Canary and the Morrisdance, so quite a European affair, the Pavane having come from Padua. If you are interested in Renaissance dancing, there is such a dance group in Kilkenny meeting Fridays at 8pm in the Home Rule Club. Join the Facebook group “Kilkenny Dancers & Chancers” or just turn up and join in.
Tabourot family crest (below)

by Anne-Karoline Distel

Other News

We would like to congratulate KAS member Ann Murtagh on her new children’s novel: “The Sound of Freedom”, published by O’Brien Press. It is set during the War of Independence. It was launched on March 1st in the Medieval Mile Museum.