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Kilkenny City Town Hall (The Tholsel), High Street, Kilkenny, County Kilkenny
12000061
Representative view of tholsel.
Reg. No.12000061
Date1760 - 1765
Previous NameN/A
TownlandGARDENS (ST. JOHN'S PAR.)
CountyCounty Kilkenny
Coordinates250608, 155855
Categories of Special InterestARCHITECTURAL ARTISTIC HISTORICAL SOCIAL
RatingNational
Original Useexchange/tholsel
In Use Astown/county hall
 
Description
Terraced five-bay two-storey over basement Classical-style tholsel with attic, built 1761, on a T-shaped plan with series of nine round-headed openings to ground floor forming open arcade, and single-bay two-storey central return to east. Renovated, 1790, with roof remodelled to accommodate turret. Subsequently in use as courthouse, 1816. Part reconstructed, 1951. Extensively renovated, post-1985. Now in use as town hall. Hipped slate roof on a T-shaped plan with clay and rolled lead ridge tiles, single-bay three-stage copper-clad central turret (rebuilt post-1985, possibly incorporating fabric of original turret, 1790) on an octagonal plan (having copper-clad octagonal swept roof with finial to apex supporting wrought iron weathervane), rooflights, post-1985, and cast-iron rainwater goods on moulded cut-limestone eaves. Random rubble stone walls with carved cut-limestone shield having squared limestone voussoirs forming segmental relieving arch over, cut-limestone quoins to corners (cut-limestone date stone/plaque (1829)), and moulded limestone ashlar course to eaves (painted rendered walls under arcade). Copper-clad walls to turret with moulded stringcourses to each stage, and cast-iron clock faces to second stage. Square-headed window openings with moulded cut-limestone sills, cut-limestone Gibbsian surrounds having triple keystones, and timber casement windows having overlights. Series of nine round-headed openings to ground floor forming open arcade on limestone ashlar Roman Doric columns (limestone ashlar piers to ends) with moulded courses to plinths (flanking cut-limestone steps), moulded courses to spring of arches, and limestone ashlar voussoirs. Series of round-headed arches under arcade on limestone ashlar Roman Doric columns with capitals supporting limestone ashlar voussoirs, and wrought iron gates. Pair of round-headed door openings with pilaster doorcases having decorative consoles supporting archivolts with keystones, and timber panelled double doors having fanlight overpanels. Round-headed openings to first and to top (bell) stage to turret with fixed-pane fittings to first stage having louvered panel fittings to top (bell) stage. Interior with groin vaulting to basement over red brick construction; full-height interior to first floor (Council Chamber) reconstructed, post-1985, with coving to ceiling having decorative plasterwork accents. Road fronted.

Appraisal

A substantial edifice of national significance reputedly built by Alderman William Colles (b. 1702) forming an imposing centrepiece in High Street as identified by the position projecting forward from the established line of the street: an octagonal clock and bell turret further distinguishes the composition in the townscape on account of the articulation of the roofline in the street scene. Limestone ashlar dressings - particularly the arcade forming a graceful feature in the street - contribute significantly to the elegant Classical theme of the composition while exhibiting very high quality stone masonry: a carved shield bearing the coat-of-arms of Kilkenny City introduces an element of artistic importance to the site. Extensively renovated following a fire in the late twentieth century most of the ensuing repairs have been carried out bearing in mind the historic integrity of the composition, thereby maintaining much of the character of the site. Originally established as a toll collecting centre, later accommodating a courthouse, custom house, and guild hall with the open arcade having traditionally acted as a market place the present use as a town hall ensures that the building continues to fulfil an important civic role in Kilkenny.
 
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