Kilkenny is becoming the most well-preserved city in Ireland with projects like the restoration of Rothe House by the local archaeological society.

Rothe House constitutes a number of houses and was built by John Rothe Fitz-Piers in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. In the past year, 11,000 people have visited Rothe House from all over the world. The Rothe family were merchants at a time when Kilkenny was the parliamentary centre of Ireland.

They call it the medieval capital of Ireland, this city of castles and cathedrals and architectural treasures, and Rothe House is its crown jewel.

25 years ago buildings like Rothe House were under threat in Kilkenny. It was members of the Kilkenny City Archaeological Society who are responsible for restoring the house to its current glory. 

Rothe House was then a derelict, tumbled down building.

With the help of a local butcher, the archaeological society bought Rothe House in 1962 for just £5,000. 85-year-old Margaret Phelan, President of the Kilkenny City Archaeological Society, spoke to reporter Peter McNiff about the fundraising efforts required for the restoration work and convincing people that Kilkenny's ancient past is one worth saving.

The society hopes to raise a further £250,000 for the latest phase of restoration work. The money is to be spent on rebuilding derelict buildings on the site, as well as a parish records indexing project. Pat Nolan of South East Tourism talks about the challenges of raising money to fund the works and commends the resilience of those involved in the fund-raising project. The mammoth task of restoration will result in one of the buildings being used as the genealogical centre of Kilkenny.

Marie Downey, Supervisor on the indexing project, describes the current state of the records.

We have years of work to do.

There are currently six full-time employees working on the project.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 26 May 1987. The reporter is Peter McNiff.