The Confederation Hall and Market Yard

Kilkenny Photographer Ed Murphy beautifully captures St Francis Abbey. (photo by Ed Murphy)

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 one of a two part article.

The present day entrance to the market yard car park was once occupied by a house belonging to the Shee family. This house was used as a meeting place of the Confederate Catholics in the 17th Century and acquired the name Confederation Hall. Two centuries later it was demolished to make way for an approach to the Market yard and gates were erected on the spot. In time the gates were no longer needed.

They were later re-erected, with one set now standing at the entrance to the Deanery at St. Canice’s Cathedral, and the second set at the entrance to the Castle park, near Switzers Asylum.

Strongbow fortified the site of the Castle before his death in 1176. A transformation of the town was carried out by his son in law William Marshall and his five sons. The Anglo Norman settlers, to accommodate their fellows, applied to the Earl Marshall to build on the vacant site from the end of James’ Street to the Watergate. These were Cathedral lands administered by Bishop Le Rous. The Bishop agreed to grant the land from Cottrell’s Bridge to St. Kieran’s well (situated in Kytelers Inn) in return for an annual payment of four ounces of gold, payable to the bishop and his successors. Between 1207 and 1225 the street was constructed.

St Francis Abbey and Graces Castle were the two main buildings. The street was known as Coal Market by the 18th Century. Around the year 1552 Richard Shee, one of wealthiest and richest men in Ireland at that time and whose main residence was in Uppercourt, Freshford either built or came into possession of a fine house in Coal Market.

It was called Emyln’s or Emling’s Hall which leads to the possibility it was owned by Emling before Richard took up residence. By this time Richard had married his first wife Margaret Sherlock of Waterford. Sir Richard Shee as he later became, was a member of Gray’s Inn, London and benefitted from the patronage of the Ormonde family. He also owned Bonnettstown Castle and may have lived there for a time. Emling’s Hall later known as Confederation Hall or Parliament House was his town residence. He married for the second time Margaret, daughter of Alderman Christopher Fagan of Dublin. He died in Bonnettstown Castle on the 10th August 1608 and in his will said that his son Lucas should dwell at Bonnettstown and his wife, if she remained unmarried should reside in Emling’s Hall. His grandson inherited Bonnettstown and Emling’s Hall, Alderman Robert Shee Mayor in 1633. Robert Shee was M.P. for Kilkenny City in 1634 -1635. His Emlings Hall played a prominent role in the Confederation of Kilkenny. In 1642 preliminary meetings and planning of the Assembly were held in this house.

According to Tighe writing in 1802” the house consisted of one large hall forty nine feet by forty seven with a dungeon underneath twenty feet square with which the hall communicated by a trap door and stone stairs. Part of the benches with high backs and the carved oak frame of a table remain”

Writing in 1846 Rev. C.P.Meehan described the house: “the great oaken floors and massive solidity of the walls still attest to the opulence of the family who then possessed the mansion” The House acquired the name Parliament House and the Confederation is commemorated by a plaque to be seen at the side of the Bank of Ireland, it reads

CONFEDERATION HALL On this spot stood the Confederation Hall where on the 24th October 1642 the Confederation Parliament or General Assembly consisting of eleven spiritual peers, fourteen temporal peers, and two hundred and twenty six representatives commoners, met to legislate for the Irish nation and to conduct the confederate wars waged to maintain the religious and political liberties of the Irish people.

P.M.Egan Mayor 1887- 1888

Part two next week


Previous “Roots” – Gallery of Modern Art Waterford
Next Girl Auction