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Building of the Month - June 2013

13 Patrick Street Upper, GARDENS (St. Mary's) Td., Kilkenny, County Kilkenny

13 Patrick Street Upper, Kilkenny 01 - Representative View   

13 Patrick Street Upper, Kilkenny, forms part of the streetscape of one of Ireland's oldest cities.  Kilkenny boasts a rich array of building stock dating back to its time as a medieval walled town and, earlier still, to its ecclesiastical origins in the sixth century.  Buildings from the Georgian and Victorian periods stand side-by-side with twentieth-century architecture to create diverse and interesting street scenes.  The compact nature of the city centre means that the full array is found within a half-mile radius stretching from Saint Canice's Cathedral to Kilkenny Castle with such buildings as The Tholsel and Rothe House occupying prominent positions.  While the medieval streets feature buildings dating from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries a wealth of Georgian architecture defines the limits of the old town wall with Butler House, the dower house of Kilkenny Castle, being the most notable.

13 Patrick Street Upper is situated at the point where Ormonde Street branches off to the south-west and adjoins the boundary of Butler House and its gardens (fig. 1).  These streets formed part of the expansion of the city limits beyond its medieval confines.  Dating from the later eighteenth century the house is one of a number of Georgian townhouses that replaced, and sometimes repurposed pre-existing medieval structures.  The house knew a number of different occupants over the centuries and today, like many prominent city centre properties, it is in use as an office.

Figure 1: 13 Patrick Street Upper, Kilkenny, a later eighteenth-century townhouse distinguished in the streetscape by the centralised grouping of the windows, the Classical doorcase squeezed into a corner of the façade

13 Patrick Street Upper, Kilkenny 02 - William Lawrence Collection (1904) 

Figure 2: A photograph from the William Lawrence Collection, taken in 1904 on the occasion of the visit of King Edward VII to Kilkenny, shows 13 Patrick Street Upper prior to its renovation in the early twentieth century when the small panes of crown or cylinder glass were replaced with plate glass and the roughcast surface finish gave way to a smooth render finish.  Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland IL_ROY_07893)

Renovated in the early twentieth century the small panes of crown or cylinder glass were replaced with plate glass, a practice widespread once manufacturers began producing affordable sheets of glass; the roughcast surface finish also gave way to the present smooth rendered finish, ruled and lined to simulate ashlar stone work (fig. 2).

Two distinctive features of the house are the arrangement of the front elevation and the interconnection with the adjoining property.  A typical Georgian townhouse shows symmetry of form with the doorcase, if not central then aligned with the window openings overhead.  In Patrick Street Upper the window openings are centralised with the doorcase squeezed into the corner of the façade.  Internally two rooms at ground and first floor level are within the walls of the adjoining house; the corresponding room on the top floor belongs to the adjoining house (fig. 3).  These quirks all add to the distinctive character of the house.

13 Patrick Street Upper, Kilkenny 03 - Floor Plans 

Figure 3: A series of survey drawings reveals one of the idiosyncrasies of 13 Patrick Street Upper: two rooms at ground and first floor level are within the walls of the adjoining house; the corresponding room on the top floor belongs to the adjoining house

13 Patrick Street Upper, Kilkenny 04 - Staircase 13 Patrick Street Upper, Kilkenny 05 - Doorcase

Figures 4-5: The interior of 13 Patrick Street Upper boasts many early or original features including, foremost, the staircase, the turned newel posts of which appear to be modelled on the Doric pillars of the doorcase

Numerous original features survive intact including a staircase of simple design with turned newel posts recalling the Doric pillars of the doorcase (figs. 4-5).  The window shutters at the front of the house also survive, framed with carved timber "lugged" surrounds (fig. 6).  Reeded plasterwork embellishes the ceilings (fig. 7).  A chimneypiece at first floor level features a Classical-style surround, however, the carpet comes right up to the edge of the hearth as there is no stone plinth piece on the floor.

13 Patrick Street Upper, Kilkenny 06 - First Floor Window 13 Patrick Street Upper, Kilkenny 07 - First Floor Plasterwork

Figures 6-7: The window shutters at the front of the house also survive as does some restrained Classical plasterwork

Kevin Sullivan BSc Arch is a 4th Year Architecture student at Waterford Institute of Technology.  This article is based on a report written by Mr. Sullivan as part of the Irish Heritage Module and includes Mr. Sullivan's photographs and survey drawings

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