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Dublin: 13 °C Sunday 21 December, 2014

Houses to be knocked – because they’re not medieval

Experts found that the front and rear walls of the two houses date mostly from 1881 and 1908, with no evidence they date to medieval times.

The gable wall of one of the houses
The gable wall of one of the houses
Image: MD Media

TWO HOUSES ARE to be demolished in Kilkenny city centre after it was revealed they weren’t medieval.

The houses were due to be knocked to make way for the Central Access Scheme in the city. This is an access scheme to support the functioning of the city centre and to enable further central development.

It was believed the two homes at 21 and 22 Vicar Street had a late medieval gable – but expert reports into their architectural heritage found that the front and rear walls, and their internal walls date mostly from 1881 and 1908 respectively.

€10 million project

During the €10.7 million project, 700 metres of a new road will be built across the former cattle mart and the Smithwicks brewery lands, along with a new River Nore bridge.

There were concerns that the houses contained a late medieval gable, or at least the remnants of one.

The surveys and investigations were carried out by consultant archaeologists Valerie J Keeley Ltd, and architectural and historical buildings specialist Rob Goodbody of Historic Building Consultants.

Vicar Street Gable Wall diagram

Goodbody says the houses have now been shown to date “in all likelihood” to the eighteenth century, but with significant alterations and additions in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Of a stone-lined opening in the gable, he said:

There is a strong possibility that it was taken from an earlier building and incorporated in this wall, in the same way that many other individual stones were built into the walls and were found here and there during the works.

He said that the evidence for the date of the gable wall shows that it cannot be of medieval date.

Valerie J Keeley Ltd’s report shows that earliest archaeology found dated from the late 17th/early 18th century, and not further back to medieval times.

There were 12 test trenches excavated within the interior and gardens of the houses, as well as the pavement in front of them and in the Diageo Ltd carpark to the south of No 22 Vicar St.

None of the test trenches have yet revealed evidence of archaeology earlier than the late 17th or early 18th century.

although several disturbed artefacts that were not in their original setting, and are believed to date to the post-medieval or medieval period, were recovered.

The Goodbody report found that there was a ‘misunderstanding’ surrounding historical accounts that claimed that number 22 Vicar Street had been a manse house belonging to a Church of Ireland official, the Prebendary of Tascoffin.

“The gable wall cannot have been part of the manse as it was the gable end wall of building on the site next door to 22 Vicar Street, which was not part of the land owned by the Prebendary of Tascoffin,” it said.

Read: History experts descend on Trinity College to discover the truth about the Battle of Clontarf>

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