Today, I officially opened 'Isabel's Tea Houses' in Kilkenny. Set on the banks of the River Nore, Kilkenny City, the Tea Houses refurbishment works are now complete.
The Houses, dated early 19th Century buildings, stand at the southern entrance to the Abbey Quarter Linear Park. These buildings are important riverside landmarks, noted for their rarity and historical significance in the context of Kilkenny City. Known as ‘Pleasure Houses’ at the time, the Tea Houses were built sometime between 1790 and 1810 for use by the Gentry.
The buildings are part of the Abbey Quarter site in the heart of Kilkenny City and are located at the entrance to the extremely popular new Riverside Garden and Skatepark amenity area, which was officially opened in the summer of 2021.
The newly named Isabel’s Tea Houses will add to the public realm experience of the Abbey Quarter site as locals and visitors visit the Riverside Garden and Skatepark over the summer months and will be a place where people can meet for a tea/coffee and relax at the banks of the river taking in the beauty of the surrounding landscape.
The Tea Houses are named after Isabel de Clare who was the daughter of Aoife and Richard de Clare (commonly known as Strongbow) and the wealthiest woman in Ireland at the time. She was a significant woman in her own right and was married to William Marshall who has many buildings attributed to him in Kilkenny. Isabel successfully defended Kilkenny Castle during an attack in 1208.
It is always intriguing to see how funding from the Constituency (in this case the Council) and my Department (through the Urban Regeneration Development Fund) can combine to such great effect as it has here at these new tea houses. Their opening is timely as we enter our first summertime away from the apprehension of pandemic-related lockdowns. I look forward to us all visiting and, as we do so, breathing new life into these beautifully restored heritage buildings.