Kilkenny art

The Butler Gallery, with its impressive collection of mainly 20th-century Irish art, has found a new home in the restored and extended Evans Asylum, writes James Howley

Of the different building types constructed in Ireland during the 18th and 19th centuries, charitable institutions were not among the most numerous. Hospitals, free schools and almshouses from this period were invariably the gift of generous patrons who, for the most part, were discerning in their choice of architect. Some fine civic buildings emerged – such as the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Blue Coats School and Rotunda Hospital in Dublin, while around the country a number of almshouses appeared, of which the Evans Asylum in Kilkenny, is a fine, late-Georgian example. Designed by local architect William Robertson, in a well-mannered, Greek Revival style, the building provided accommodation for retired, Protestant servants who had become destitute. Constructed within the precinct of a ruined abbey, the charity operated on the proceeds of its original endowment for more than 160 years, which is testament to the benevolence of the founder, Joseph Evans. Appropriately, the building has become the permanent home of another Kilkenny institution, which is also a product of individual civic initiative, combined with generous benefaction.

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