Newsletter March 2019

Dear Archaeology and Heritage Enthusiast,

Welcome to the Spring 2019 edition of the Kilkenny Archaeological Society’s newsletter.
A new year has dawned and we are now well into spring and beginning to sense the oncoming summer. It is a wonderful time a year and we are delighted to bring news of local radio broadcasts, rediscovering Dick Purcell from Castlecomer, event news and Kilkenny Archaeological Society’s submission to Kilkenny County Council’s proposed development of the Tholsel.
Happy reading.

If you have topics or news of interest to the readers of this newsletter please contact the PR Subcommittee by email to the following address:

Newsletter was edited by Marie Kelly, Fionnuala Lynch and Martin O’Faolain.

News from the Kilkenny Archaeological Society’s Local History Committee

A group from the Local History Comittee research, record and broadcast items of mainly of Kilkenny interest. They are normally of 5- 10 minutes duration. They are broadcast on 88.7 m on Kilkenny City Radio. This happens on Sunday mornings on the Serendipity Show by Pat Shortall (Member of Kilkenny Archaeological Society). While the show runs from 9.00 to 12.00 the history piece is usually transmitted approximately at 11.15. Most of the previous broadcast items can be accessed on KCR History. Both script and recordings are available. About fifty broadcasts have been completed to date.
Recent examples of radio broadcasts are

  Rosemary Barnes – The Long March, Farmers Protest 1966
Anne -Karoline Distel –Carolan, The Blind Harpist
Paddy Neary – St Patrick’s Day Parade 1906
Nicky Maher – Dr Cane
Jack Lynch – Percy French
Eamonn Kiely – The Red Book of Ormonde.

  Previously another radio station KCLR transmitted and recorded about 70 of our talks. These historical talks can be accessed at KCLR People and Places -History Talks on KCLR. Please press the Read More button for more information and to access the recorded talks.
The Local History Group welcomes other members to research and broadcast. The variety of themes and accents enhances the work and our Society.

News from the Kilkenny Archaeological Society’s Library

[contained a duplicate of the Dick Purcell text from previous newsletter, which for SEO reasons will not be reproduced here]

Kilkenny Archeaological Society’s AGM

News from the KAS AGM – held on Wednesday February 27th

The ultimate authority of Kilkenny Archaeological Society is the society members assembled in Annual General Meeting. It took place in Rothe House on Wednesday February 27th at 8.00pm.

The AGM conducts the formal business of receiving the reports from each officer which are then discussed and formally adopted by the meeting;it adopts the financial accounts before staging the elections of officers and members of the governing committee, termed the Council. In general, officers serve for three years and then are required to step down as set out in Rule 7 of the constitution. Please email for a list of the elected officers and members of the governing committee:

Circulated at the AGM was a list of the various sub-committees most of whom are actively seeking additional members so please consider joining one or more and getting more involved in your society. Our committees are: conservation, programme, museum, library, local history, membership, old kilkenny review, public relations/newsletter and Website. If you are interested or seek more information please email your request to:

News from the Conservation Committee

Kilkenny Archaeological Society made the following submission to Kilkenny County Council’s  notice of a proposed Part 8 development at the Tholsel. The submission was made after the topic was discussed at the January Council meeting.

Kilkenny Archaeological Society welcomes the opportunity to make a submission regarding the proposed development at the Tholsel. The   architectural report states that the following objectives …’were paramount …to protect and enhance the building…to improve public access…in accordance with the Disability Act…’ as well as creating a visitor attraction and improving the presentation of the rear of the building. The Tholsel is an 18th c. registered monument of national importance, and is protected under the National Monuments Act.

We recognize that the building urgently requires renovation and alteration in order to comply with Fire Regulations and also the Disability Act. We welcome the commitment to follow best conservation practice as well as to restore the visual and aesthetic qualities as fully as practical, and we accept the changes involved for this outcome. However a big part of the development is related to a revised vision of the role of the building as a visitor attraction, and also as a conduit to attract more visitors to the St. Mary’s Church Medieval Mile Museum. These are optional and non-urgent items, and we make the following observations in this regard.

  1. We do not agree with the proposal to erect a new glazed reception and ticket office in the ground floor arcade, which at present forms part of the High Street pedestrian public realm. The proposal will have both an aesthetic and a cultural impact. It is a prominent visible, distinctive, and accessible part of High Street. It is in nearly daily use by charity collectors, street musicians and singers, sellers of small craft items, choirs at Christmas, and similar informal activities especially by teenage and young adult citizens. It is the only outdoor covered area on High Street and there is no alternative place that would be comparable to its present vibrant street culture.
  2. The construction of a formal glazed reception and ticket office, together with the removal of the present metal railing will probably have a negative impact on the usual gregarious street life in the arcade. It may become intimidating to those who have a sense of belonging in that space. There is nowhere else on High Street that is relatively sheltered from wind and rain and that could be used in a similar manner, especially for teenagers and young adults who have a sense of belonging there. In addition the Christmas crib is a traditional and very popular attraction but will be affected negatively, along with certain other activities such as signing condolence books.
  3. The glazed-and-wood reception and ticket office is incongruous inside an 18th c. medieval building on a busy street. The metal railings are a 1950s construction to counteract anti-social activities, but are surprisingly popular. This could be because the form a boundary to the raw street life from the quieter activities inside the rails.
  4. The proposal to remove the clutter of disfiguring extensions at the rear of the building is very welcome. However the proposed large new east (rear) façade appears austere and obtrusive, especially as viewed from a distance such as Johns Quay and the new Butler Gallery. We strongly recommend that windows similar to the old windows (seen in the Crawford Collection photograph) be installed rather than the long continuous glazing proposed. Attached to this submission is an example of how it would look, using a superimposed clipped portion of the photograph. It restores the original elegant style to the façade. We also recommend that the wall be painted in a colour that harmonizes with the colour of the stone walls and slate roof. On balance we feel that the copper roof will age elegantly, rather like Rathmines Town Hall in Dublin, but there are mixed views on this.
  5. We are uncertain where the public will access a general reception office, such as to pay council rent. It is not clear if the ground floor ‘reception area’ is simply a walk-through area on the way to the Medieval Mile Museum, or will it have a staffed desk and receptionist?

We commend the level of expertise and work that has gone into the proposal. This submission is the formal KAS response, but it is open to all individuals or groups to make their own submission and express alternative views.

In conclusion we respectfully suggest that the consultation process with the general public might have been improved by holding a public forum type of meeting in advance,  such as the Town Hall meeting held to discuss the Abbey Quarter Master Plan, or the local meetings held by planners in preparation for compiling a Village Design Statement.

18 February 2019

Coming events

Kilkenny Archeaological Society’s programme committee organises one overseas coach trip each year. Last year’s coach trip was to Wales, where one of the highlights was to visit St. David which is lying on the river Alun.  It is the final resting place of St. David, Wales’ patron saint and is named after him. St. David is the United Kingdoms smallest city. Above photo is from St. David’s in Wales.

This year the journey goes to France. All are welcome to participate in all our planned events. We depart on Saturday the 9th of June on Brittany Ferries from Cork sailing to Roscoff, for a wonderful week of exploration and discovery along the scenic and historic Loire Valley.  Once again, we are using the well-tried and comfortable services of Pierce Kavanagh Coaches to take us from Kilkenny all the way to our destination in Tours, in the midpoint of the Loire Valley where we will stay for the week in our selected hotel. We retain the coach and the services of our constant companion Matthew Kavanagh for the entire week.

Our visit will bring contact with a world Heritage UNESCO site, the wonderful Cathedral at Chartres;the awesome Chateau at Chinon, with its 1,000 years of history including Richard the Lionheart and the ‘last stand’ of the Knights Templar.  The truly wonderful Chateau’s of the Loire Valley are justly world famous and we will visit a number to give a flavour of their majestic settings, superb gardens and awe-inspiring architecture. The wineries of the valley get suitable attention as does the tasty local products and culinary expertise we will enjoy in the carefully chosen restaurants we visit during our sun-kissed week in France.

But sadly! At the time of publishing this newsletter only one free space remains on this trip.