We have beautiful outdoor spaces including an archaeology garden, a sculpture garden and a wildflower garden. In our intimate garden setting you can enjoy refreshments from our café, Wild Flower Café, with views of medieval St John’s Priory.
The east bank of the river Nore on which the new Butler Gallery stands is historically referred to as ‘The Lake’. This bank had been created in the early medieval period from land reclaimed from the river’s floodplains.
John Robertson was a Kilkenny botanist and close relative of William Robertson, the architect of Evans’ Home. In 1802 he was quoted as saying that the strong loam soil on the banks of the river Nore on which the Butler Gallery now stands was ‘the most favourable soil’ for planting orchards. Historically the most prominent orchards in Kilkenny were the Earl of Ormond’s Great Orchard south of the castle, and Prior’s Orchard, maintained by St. John’s Priory. Among the fruits that flourished in Prior’s Orchard was the dessert pear, Bon Chretien.
For many years city and town development in Ireland had turned its back on the rivers but in recent years public walkways, parks and the Lady Desart footbridge in Kilkenny have turned the city back towards the river as a public amenity. The landscaped gardens of the Butler Gallery reinforce this turn back to the ‘most favourable soil’ on the banks of the river, and towards the other side of the ‘Marble City’.
The gardens at Butler Gallery offer a new public space in the city and link to heritage sites and city gardens including Carnegie Library, Rothe House, the Medieval Mile Museum, Kilkenny Castle and St. Canice’s Cathedral. From the first floor windows of Butler Gallery you can see the icons of medieval Kilkenny: Kilkenny Castle, the Medieval Mile Museum at the former St. Mary’s Church, and the burgage plots of the merchant city.