THE NEW BUTLER GALLERY IN KILKENNY
It is three years since I last visited Kilkenny and there have been some changes since then. This year, as usual, I stayed at Langtons Hotel on Lower John Street. On the second day after my evening meal I decided to explore Barrack Lane across the street from the hotel and was more than surprised that it lead to to a new gallery that I was planning to visit the following morning.
The Butler Gallery is a contemporary art gallery and museum in Kilkenny, Ireland. It presents a collection of works by Irish and international artists from the 18th century to the present day. A wing has been devoted to the work of the Callan artist Tony O’Malley and his wife Jane.
Established in Kilkenny city in 1943 by George Pennefather, the Butler Gallery is named in honour of Susan (Peggy) and Hubert Butler. The gallery, previously based in the basement of Kilkenny Castle, is located in the redeveloped Evans’ Home.
Evan’s Home, while it is not well known, is a significant building in Kilkenny City’s rich history. Having been formerly the site of St. John’s Priory Monastic Settlement, it later became a military barracks. The current building was created by the bequest of Joseph Evans in 1818 as a Servants’ Asylum and continued as a home until the 1980’s. Kilkenny County Council’s Project Liaison Architect, Evelyn Graham commented “It is a great privilege to be part of this exciting refurbishment project and follow the authentic restoration of this hidden gem into a vibrant contemporary art gallery and public garden”.
In addition to the refurbishment of the historic building itself, the development delivers a significant new area of public open spaces which will include a Children’s Garden, an Archaeological Garden, a Sculpture Garden and a new pedestrian connection from John Street through the site to John’s Quay. There will also be a café which will include an outdoor seating area with views of the neighbouring St. John’s Priory. This world, a mixture of old and new, history and heritage, inside and outside will provide an engaging, enjoyable and accessible visitor experience for locals and tourists alike.
The transformation of Evan’s Home into the new Butler Gallery is a €6 million project funded by by Kilkenny County Council with support of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Fáilte Ireland.