Things to do and places to visit near
Tig na Coille, Co. Kilkenny
Nestled at the foot of the old Ballykeeffe Quarry,and just ten minutes outside Kilkenny city, Ballykeeffe Amphitheatre is run entirely by volunteers and brings the authentic atmosphere of an open-air Italian theatre to the rolling Kilkenny countryside. The once-bustling slate quarry had lain abandoned and in disarray for many years, with most indifferent to its very existence.
Lying beneath Ballykeeffe Woodland Nature Reserve which stretches to the edge of the quarry, the Amphitheatre now boasts a state-of-the-art steel canopy which perfectly compliments the astounding natural acoustics of the deep quarry walls, providing a magical experience for those attending the array of musical and theatrical performances hosted here.
Edmund Rice birthplace
Blessed Edmund Rice, founder of the Christian Brothers and Presentation Brothers, was born to Robert and Margaret Rice, prosperous tenant farmers, at Westcourt, Callan, Co. Kilkenny, on 1st of June 1762.
He was the fourth of seven brothers, and had two stepsisters, Joan and Jane Murphy, from his mother’s first marriage. The Penal Laws against Catholics were still in force in Ireland. County Kilkenny fared better than many places because of the tolerance of John Butler, the Protestant Duke of Ormonde who resided in Kilkenny Castle.
As a result, enterprising Catholics, such as Robert Rice, were enabled to rent farmland from tolerant Protestant landlords at reasonable rates. So Edmund was fortunate in a land where the majority of Catholics were “hewers of wood and drawers of water”.
The thatched house "Westcourt" in which Edmund was born on 1 June 1762, is almost 300 years old. The six roomed house consists of a kitchen, parlour, breakfast room and three bedrooms. Of particular interest is the bedroom in which Edmund Rice was born. Also on the site is the Edmund Rice Memorial Chapel and a large visitors’ centre.
Ballykeefe Distillery is an Irish artisan family farm Whiskey distillery located in picturesque countryside, just 15 minutes outside the Medieval city of Kilkenny.
Kilkenny was the Medieval capital of Ireland located in the Diocese of Ossory and also claims to be the place where uisce beatha, meaning ‘water of life was first distilled. The first written account of distilling in Ireland dates back to 1324, with two Whiskey recipes listed in the Red Book of Ossory which contains transcripts of documents relating to the government of Ireland and other matters, 13th to 16th century.
There was a long history of distilling in Kilkenny that faded away, as was the case with much regional spirit-making. The first Whiskey distillery in Kilkenny in over 200 years, Ballykeefe Distillery has revived the lost traditions of a family farm distillery, with a unique commitment to environmental protection, carbon neutrality and sustainability. Set up in 2017 by Morgan Ging, a full-time farmer, Ballykeefe Distillery is an on farm Whiskey distillery which produces its own Gin, Vodka and Poitín, and in 2020 its much anticipated Whiskey will be released. Everything about Ballykeefe is local. The grain and the water for the Whiskey comes from the farm and the by-products of distillation are fed to the cattle on the farm. The entire distilling cycle; sowing the barley, harvesting it, storing it; distilling, maturing and bottling the spirit, will all take place at Ballykeefe. The ‘our fields to your glass’ mantra is not a goal at Ballykeefe; it’s fact. For more information on Ballykeefe Distillery and its award-winning products visit www.ballykeefedistillery.ie
James Hoban- Architect of The White House, Washington D.C.
Born in c. 1762, in Callan, County Kilkenny, Hoban was trained in the Neoclassical (Georgian in Britain and Ireland) style and worked in this design tradition throughout his architectural career. He immigrated to the United States just after the Revolutionary War and first settled in Philadelphia.He moved onwards to South Carolina where he designed the old state capitol building at Columbia.
It was at George Washington’s suggestion that Hoban went to the federal capital in 1792 and submitted a plan for the presidential mansion in Washington DC. Hoban won the national competition and received the commission to build the White House. He was also awarded $500 and a lot in the District of Columbia.
The town of Callan, Co. Kilkenny
Callan town has many places of historical itrest including the thatched cottage of Blessed Edmund Rice the founder of the Christian Brothers. John Locke the famed poet and Fenian activist is another Callan man and emigrated to America around 1880 and worked there as a journalist until his early deat at the age of 42.
Callan is also the home town to the ancestors of Asa Gridds Candler - the founder of the renowned Coca cola company in Atlanta.
Callan and the Cromwelliam link. Callan was one of the principal towns of the Ormond domain, a walled town with 8 castles, with its own Corporation and Sovereign, and its own Court of Justice. It had a Charter since 1217, and it sent, not one, but two members to the Irish Parliament. Cromwell captured the town in 1650 and butchered many of the local innocent people of Callan who had sought refuge in St Marys church in the town.
Enjoy a peaceful romantic walk in Desart wood only 500 metres from Tig na Coille Country House.
Desart Demense was the home of Lord and Lady Desart in in the early 1700 and they remained there until it was destroyed by fire in the early 1900's. It was stated to be one of the finest houses in County Kilkenny. Only the walled in garden remains with the original side gate entrance.
Also in the vicinity is the of Desart wood is the birthplace of James Hoban born here in 1762 the architect of the White House in Washington. A monument was erected in 2008 by a group of architectural students from Washington in his honor.