The Butlers depart from Kilkenny Castle
The Deane and Woodward works were to be the last major rebuilding at Kilkenny Castle until a series of phased building and conservation programmes were carried out by State agencies from the 1970s onwards. The Butler family had moved out and auctioned the contents of the castle in 1935. There followed years of neglect and dereliction. Throughout the 1940s and 50s various proposals were put forward about the future of the castle but it was not until Mr. C.J. Lytle made a generous gift of £20,000 towards restoration work that any serious intent could be followed up.
When the castle was formally taken over by the State in 1969, the Office of Public Works had agreed to assume responsibility for the restoration of the gardens and open parklands, and the Picture Gallery wing was renovated and reopened during the 1970s. Later, the central block and North Tower were investigated, when the principal problem was found to be dry and wet rot, which had attacked the timber structures within the walls of the castle.
The fungus had spread throughout the building rotting floors, roof timbers, wall panelling, doors, windows and other joinery so that extensive reconstruction of the interiors was the only option available to the architects involved. However, before beginning another building campaign an archaeological investigation was carried out. The information gathered at that time has greatly increased our understanding of the origins and development of the castle. The garden front of Kilkenny Castle showing the Venetian Gothic windows with small balconies that were inserted during the Deane and Woodward work on the castle.
The interior of the central block was virtually rebuilt but, where possible, original building materials that had been salvaged were reused. In areas where these had deteriorated or were missing, faithful reproductions of high quality were used for features such as decorative plasterwork cornices and suchlike. Great care was also taken with other interior fittings. Copies were created from original pelmets, wall coverings, carpets, and bookcases in the library.
The overall intention was to recreate interiors for the Picture Gallery wing and central block based on mid nineteenth-century styles that prevailed when the last Ormonde building campaign at the castle had taken place. A later phase of restoration work has been carried out in the Parade Wing, which includes the two circular towers and the area behind the Classical gateway. It is now used as a conference venue that also serves as a showcase for the imaginative adaptation of a medieval space.