The Gardens

At this time the setting of the castle was also transformed. Formal gardens were created with long avenues of trees planted, including oak and ash. Various schemes for at least three fountains were proposed.

Other features added to the gardens included an elevated ‘leaden’ terrace that was constructed in the area where the present Rose Garden is situated. A collection of statuary was ordered, on behalf of Ormond, from John Bonnier the sculptor. The statuary was to be made of ‘hard mettle or hardened leaden’ and it was to be based on a similar group that stood in the Privy Garden of the Royal Palace of Whitehall.

Figures of Diana, the Sabine woman, Hercules, Comodius, and Antonius were to be made full size and mounted on plinths, at a cost of £40 each, also sixteen smaller figures of boys, 21/2 feet in height, at £5 each.

Orders were also given for designs for ’emblems…to exemplify the 12 signs (of the Zodiac) and 4 seasons’.

The Banqueting House

To the south-east of the castle a ‘water house’ was built outside the line of the original castle wall and beside the Bowling Green. This small building contained a summer banqueting chamber, and in terms of design, is probably one of the earliest and most correctly Classical buildings erected in Ireland.

It was circular in shape with a peristyle or continuous colonnade. The interior had a black and white paved floor, with a painted ceiling decorated with angels. A fountain stood in the centre of the floor and this was described as ‘a Jet d’Eau or throw of water’ by Thomas Dineley (d.1695), an English antiquarian who was visiting Kilkenny in 1680.

From this small building, water was pumped up to the castle by means of ‘an Engine of curious artifice’ driven by a horse that was housed in the basement storey.