The Society was founded in 1849 in Kilkenny ‘to preserve, examine and illustrate all ancient monuments and memorials of the arts, manners and customs of the past, as connected with the antiquities, language, literature and history of Ireland.’
As a result of its origins in 19th Century antiquarianism the Society is rather unique in terms of learned Societies as it crosses several disciplines (Archaeology, History, Folklore, Local History) and is open to members with an academic, research or even general interest in all of these areas.
The Society is primarily a voluntary-run organisation, with two part-time staff, and is reliant on its members to fund its activities and developments.
As the owner and occupier of a fine Georgian House the Society takes great pride in Society House, and is constantly working to maintain, improve and upgrade the building. Projects over the last few years have included improvements to the structure of the house, the interiors of the library and office, and the most recent project the restoration of the Georgian garden.
The Society’s goals are achieved today through the Society’s annual programme of lectures, talks and excursions and by the publication of its journal. The Journal is an annual publication, which has been published since 1849. Members and researchers can use the Society’s library, which contains books on Irish history, antiquities and archaeological and historical journals.
Among the most historically significant of the Society’s holdings are the mid nineteenth-century sketch-books compiled by George Du Noyer, artist and employee of the Geological Survey.This collection consists of over 2,000 individual drawings.
Society House also includes a fully equipped modern lecture room situated at basement level and directly accessible from the street, first floor meeting rooms and of course of Georgian Garden, all of which are available for rent by groups for events.