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Friday 29 September 2023 Dublin: 11°C
# improving ireland
Volunteers are reclaiming this motte and bailey after decades of neglect and bonfires
Several sites around Ireland are being ‘adopted’ by their local communities.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0034.JPG Abarta Heritage The mound at Gallows Hill has been charred through years of bonfires Abarta Heritage

FIVE MONUMENTS AROUND Ireland are currently being ‘adopted’ by their local communities.

Following in the footsteps of a similar initiative in Scotland, the Heritage Council and Abarta Heritage launched the Adopt a Monument scheme this year.

Over 90 community groups around the country applied to the scheme and five were chosen:

  • Doon Fort, Ardara, Co Donegal
  • Church of the Rath, Killeshandra, Co Cavan
  • Gallows Hill medieval fort, Dungarvan, and Round Hill, Lismore, Co Waterford
  • Baravore crusher building, Glenmalure, Co Wicklow
  • Ballintleva Handball Alley, Co Roscommon

One of the projects was a joint application from the communities of Dungarvan and Lismore in Co Waterford to adopt two medieval forts in their localities.

Gallows Hill in Dungarvan is located in the Cathal Brugha social housing estate, which is currently undergoing regeneration with Waterford County Council. The Adopt a Monument scheme is working with the community to help raise awareness of the site for visitors and locals.

Geophysical surveys have been carried out to discover more of the site’s story, and the community ran a Medieval Fair Day during Heritage Week in August to help to raise awareness.

Déise Medieval at the Gallowshill Medieval Fair Abarta Heritage Gallows Hill Medieval Fair Abarta Heritage

Speaking to, Christina Knight of the Waterford County Museum said the motte and bailey at Gallows Hill had been “completely abandoned and forgotten about” for a long time.

“It has been very neglected for the last few decades”, Knight told us, noting the effects of anti-social behaviour, dumping and bonfires.

She said the museum noticed the site wasn’t mentioned in Dungarvan’s town charter when marking its 800th anniversary last year.

They decided to carry out a community survey to get local people “to take ownership of the site again”.

“When we saw [the Adopt a Monument scheme] we knew it was just a perfect fit for what we were trying to do,” Christina noted.

She said the project is about “bringing the community together” and “making people aware [the site] is there and it’s a really important site”.

People who lived less than half a mile from the site, around corner from it, had never seen it. It’s so surrounded by housing estates it has been completely missed and forgotten about.

“The passion of the local volunteers and the knowledge of the Heritage Council is a great combination,” Knight added.

The Heritage Council is helping local volunteers put together a long-term plan for the site. A geophysical survey was carried out in July, where machinery used radars to penetrate deep into the earth.

Knight said a very large defence ditch was found during this exercise, meaning the site “certainly was a really important defence site at some stage”.

She said it’s at least medieval, possibly older. The next step is trying to more accurately date it.

Abarta Heritage Volunteers at work surveying Round Hill, near Lismore, Waterford Abarta Heritage

The large motte and bailey known as Round Hill, also once a defensive site, is situated on the banks of the River Blackwater in Lismore. Heritage Ireland said the Adopt a Monument team is providing “specialist advice in helping to conserve the monument and to provide better access for visitors”.

‘Some of the finest archaeology in Europe’

Ian Doyle, head of conservation with the Heritage Council described the Adopt a Monument programme as “a new way of bringing monuments into the heart of a community”.

“For participants it offers opportunities to work collaboratively, to undertake research and to get to know more about the history of the area.

Ireland has some of the finest archaeology in Europe and to date we have not really understood how valuable a resource this is.

Doyle said the initiative has the potential to ensure ongoing maintenance and care of the monuments, as well “greater protection through increased civic value, and much higher standards of interpretation and understanding”.

More information on the Adopt a Monument programme can be read here.

Read: Poisoned by a priest or an unknown illness? The mysterious death at Lough Oughter

Read: The bizarre way this castle protected itself from deadly attackers

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