Archaelogical Society charts progress - and its future plans

A packed 56th Annual General Meeting of Kilkenny Archaeological Society (KAS) heard an upbeat but realistic address from its President, Mr Peter McQuillan in their headquarters, Rothe House last Wednesday. In his wide ranging address he covered the progress of the society, expanding its range of activities to encompass not alone lectures and outings but also a seminar and a most successful academic debate. The societies ‘outreach’ activities included a twice-weekly presentation on KCLR entitled ‘Glimpse of the Past.’ The meeting was chaired by Seamus Brennan who was re-elected unopposed as Chairman.

A packed 56th Annual General Meeting of Kilkenny Archaeological Society (KAS) heard an upbeat but realistic address from its President, Mr Peter McQuillan in their headquarters, Rothe House last Wednesday. In his wide ranging address he covered the progress of the society, expanding its range of activities to encompass not alone lectures and outings but also a seminar and a most successful academic debate. The societies ‘outreach’ activities included a twice-weekly presentation on KCLR entitled ‘Glimpse of the Past.’ The meeting was chaired by Seamus Brennan who was re-elected unopposed as Chairman.

Ann Tierney the outgoing editor of the Old Kilkenny Review gave a short but most interesting summary of the society since its revival in 1946/7. The meeting unanimously applauded Ms Tierney for her dedication to the demanding role of editorship of the much admired Old Kilkenny Review, a post she has filled for the last three years.

The treasurer Mr David Hughes of Graignamanagh and Kilkenny presented a satisfactory balance sheet and detailed the income and expenditure for the year. In common with many voluntary organisations the society has seen a marginal reduction in its membership. This theme was taken up again during the address of the Membership Secretary, Pat Nolan. He outlined the steps the society has taken to continue to insure that membership was not only advantageous to the cultural and social life of each member but also carried a worthwhile financial benefit as well having regards to the expanding activities available to members either free of charge or benefits from a members discount.

The library, a vital and much prized resource of KAS, in the careful and capable hands of Edward Law continues to attract considerable attention from those undertaking historic and local history projects. While the library’s vast resource is available free to the membership of KAS, individual members of the public may also, gain access during the open sessions on Tuesday and Saturday afternoon and on Wednesday mornings by prior appointment for a modest fee.

KAS is very conscious of the many other societies, clubs, groups and even individuals throughout the County of Kilkenny – now numbering some 30 separate groups, each working away in their respective local areas doing valuable research and documenting the history, folklore and stories of all parts of Kilkenny. As a consequence KAS proposed and facilitates the staging of three/four meetings a year – in different parts of the county whereby these bodies meet to exchange ideas, pool their expertise and co-ordinate their many event in order to avoid, as far as possible, a clashes of dates for their various events.

The crowded programme of KAS events was the topic of the report of the Chairman of the Programme Committee. These in addition to the five lectures, four summer outings, also included a seminar and the Spring academic debate first staged in 2012.

This year the upcoming spring debate “Saint Patrick Christianised Ireland” with competing teams from UCG proposing and UDC opposing the motion, is in Kilkenny Castle – by kind invitation of the OPW – and timed, appropriately for Friday March 15th at 8.00pm. The evening is being chaired by broadcaster and journalist Olivia O’Leary, grand-daughter of the founder of KAS.

Other event highlighted include the three day “The Gathering” conference on the theme of Emigration through the centuries taking place in April and the mid-week outing to West Clare and the Burren in June. Further details of these two and all event in the societies programme are available from Rothe House.

Joe Ledgwidge heads up the enormously energetic Renaissance Implementation Team which is overseeing the representation of Rothe House as it might have been in the 16th century when first built by John Rothe for his wife Rose Archer and his expanding family. Mr Ledgewidge gave a detailed exposé on the multi- tasks facing his implementation group who will be undertaking the final element of this most ambitions programme commencing in September. This will bring to full flowering and completion the vision of the late Margaret “Daisy” Phelan, Kitty Lanigan and many others who’s first tentative steps on this long road were taken when the site and house was purchased in the early 1960’s.

The Hon Museum Curator, Ms Rosemary Barnes outlined the obstacles and difficulties to be overcome during the transition of the ‘old’ Rothe House to this bold new presentation. She applauded those who had donated valuable and historic artifices and items to KAS which are now available for display. She thanked especially sisters Jill and Nikki Toler-Aylward for their splendid gift of the magnificent trousseau of their elegant ancestor which now graces the costume gallery in Rothe House.

Some years ago the society prudently established a rule that no one person could hold a given office for more that three years, thereby ensuring a ‘turnover’ of ideas, imagination and energy into the various and many tasks that encompass the KAS year. The elections which formed the second part of the AGM were in consequence focused on the two positions falling vacant under this rule. The editor’s chair of the Old Kilkenny Review (Ann Tierney) falls vacant which the election of Hon Secretary resulted in the appointment of two persons, university students, Andrew Lewis and Caroline Tierney who will jointly take on the role previously filled by the outgoing Hon Sec. Pádraig Tracey. The actual mechanics of this novel arrangement will be worked out by the incoming newly elected governing council of the society.