Farewell to the coal market as Parliament House is demolished

According to the minutes of the meeting held on the 14th November 1860, it was resolved that a public market be provided and established in the city

The Kilkenny Observer welcomes ‘Cois Céim’ and the ‘Kilkenny Saturday Walkers Group’, where we read about The Confederation Gates and the Market Yard. This is part two

Robert Shee was involved in the rebellion of 1641 and Bonnettstown was forfeited in1653. In time the house passed through many hands. In 1802 it was occupied by Mr. Richard Tresham, apothecary, who was immortalised in the story entitled Father Connell by the Banim brothers, John and Michael. In 1830 Thomas Huleatt converted the great hall into a drapery establishment and it was called “Kilkenny Commercial House” It was bought in turn by William Langton, corn merchant. The Gates: Gates were put in place between two pillars at the entrance in Parliament Street to the Market Yard. Gerald Tyler wrote in 1977 “Between these pillars hung a magnificent pair of forged iron gates which were made by the two Downes brothers. Reputedly the finest gates ever made in Kilkenny. The Downes were paid so little for them that they emigrated to America.”

Whatever about being paid little, it seems they were paid late, yet many of the family remained in Kilkenny. These gates matched those also made by the Downes brothers which were erected at the King Street (now Kieran St.) market entrance. The pier for these gates can still be seen (opposite Kytelers Inn) the smith work for the gates started on the 8th March 1860 and finished on the 10th November the same year. The bill for these gates was furnished to the Corporation on the 3rd December 1860.Ald Potter raised the bill for smith work. Due to the vast expenditure on the market he proposed that all accounts be passed to the Town Clerk and this bill should not be paid until it went through the regular form. The head of the Downes family was William Downes who according to a deed had the lease of a house, yard and office in Colliers Lane in 1842. William married Anne McDonnell in 1836 and they had nine children between 1837 and 1857. Corporation minutes record work undertaken by William Downes , January 2nd was paid 1860 £1- 7s-9d, 17s- 8d for smith work. 1stApril 1861. 10s-4d for repairing weights. 4th March1862, 2s- 6d for repairs to the silver mace.

The Market Yard. On the 4th June 1860 the Corporation passed a resolution to change the name of Coal Market to Parliament Street. According to the minutes of the meeting held on the 14th November 1860, it was resolved that a public market be provided and established in the city by extending the Corporation market. An Act of Parliament for the establishment and management of such a market had to be passed. Money had to be borrowed to purchase ground and to erect the necessary buildings. Corporation minutes of 1861 confirm that various plots behind the National Bank were acquired. The Court of Chancery held Emling’s House for William Grace and the Landed Estates Court sold it to the Corporation in 1862. Later that year it was pulled down for the public market. Demolition of the house was described in the Kilkenny Moderator of 26th April 1862. “The house in coal market, long traditionally known as The Parliament House of Kilkenny being a portion of the premises being submitted to the action of the crow bar and in a few days not a vestige of the structure will remain. Although so modernised in its front elevation as in no ways to attract the observation of any person unacquainted with its history, in the rear this building preserved many of its original features, in the shape of arched doorways ,massive stone chimney shafts, gargoyles, mullioned windows with drip labels, and, internally massive stone chimney pieces”.

Around the same time it was recorded that an “Oak pillar” which had supported one of the floors of the old house on Coal Market recently removed, formerly the residence of the Shee family, and which had been used by the Confederate Catholics in 1642 was presented by the Mayor of Kilkenny , Alexander Colles to the old Kilkenny Archaeological Society. Also presented to the Society by William Hartford, Esq. Kilkenny Fusiliers were “Several excellent photographs of Kilkenny Antiquities among which were views of the old house in which the Confederate Catholics had held their meetings.” The Market Yard gates were taken down in the late 1960s and restored by the Kilkenny Corporation in 1980s. One pair now hang at the entrance to the Castle Park, opposite Switzers on the Castle Road. The second pair can be seen at the entrance to the Deanery, Saint Canices Cathedral on the coach road.


Old Kilkenny Review 2010 edition No10 Irish Town Atlas (Kilkenny).

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