The Hole in the Wall, Kilkenny (1582)
The Hole in the Wall is the inner house of a Tudor mansion built in 1582 by Martin Archer, a future mayor of Kilkenny. The family lost everything in 1654 after Kilkenny fell to the Cromwellians. The Archer complex eventually became part of the Duke of Ormonde estate after 1660. The High St mansion was let independently from the inner house from then on. One of the earliest known tenants of the inner house was the widow Madden whose daughter married the French restaurateur Louis Doly. Around that time, in order to gain access from the High St to the rear of the inner house a hole was punctured in a wall. Hence the name The Hole in the Wall.
By the late 1700s the venue achieved a standing as a supper-house of renown. It was frequented nightly by the Earl of Ormonde and his guests such as Henry Grattan, Sir Jonah Barrington. It was a favoured haunt of Captain Arthur Wesley, who was stationed at Kilkenny barracks before being seconded to the British army in Spain and India and eventually becoming Duke of Wellington and British prime minister. Later it developed a reputation of ill renown due to duels, arguments, highwaymen etc and this led to its eventual demise.
Since 1999 it has been under conservation / restoration. The building is typically Tudor in style with a tall pitched roof (new), cut stone hooded Elizabethan mullioned windows, original flagstones, hexagonal chimney and oak doors. The inside consists of an upper floor and small gallery which comprised the living apartment of the Archer family. It has been restored largely as found and fitted out with 16th century oak floor and furniture sourced both locally and in Oxfordshire. The main room measures approximately 20 x 20 feet.
The ground floor is divided into a rustic tavern made from 1582 oak beams, floor boards and other original oaks. A snug room is adjacent where the history of the late 1700s, the Charitable and Benevolent snug and links to later owners such as the Bibby drapers are recalled. There is a rear small rear yard and to the front is a moderate sized enclosed New Orleans-style courtyard.