Work begins to prepare for the visit of Fethard castle
WORKS have started to restore the historic Fethard Castle with a view to allowing visitors to access the ground floor in a few years.
Around â¬ 125,000 is spent to re-stabilize the castle, which dates from the 15th century.
A Community Monuments Fund grant of â¬ 70,000 has been awarded for stabilization and conservation work on the castle and Wexford County Council will spend around â¬ 55,000 on the project. Work has started on the site and will end at the end of October.
Fethard Castle, including the surrounding site, is a registered monument owned by Wexford County Council. It is a protected structure under the County Wexford Development Plan and the National and Historic Monuments Act.
The surface remains of the late medieval stone castle consist of an L-shaped block. This includes a fortified house which is the bishop’s palace, and an old guard house at the northeast end. , which once gave access to an enclosure or a defended court which extended towards the north-west.
The guardhouse with its surviving pivot stones seems to date from the second half of the 14th century.
There were two castles from Fethard to Fethard, the first being an earthen castle at the rear of the stone castle built by Richard of London in the 13th century. No trace of the old castle remains today, although to the northeast of the newer castle is a low mound of earth which appears to be the motte of the original stately castle from around 1200.
Wexford County Council Heritage Officer Catherine McLoughlin said the first phase of the project would be completed by the end of October, adding that the plan was to keep the castle for ground floor tours within four years. .
âWe developed a conservation plan last year with funding from the Heritage Council. There is a long term image we have for the castle. Other interpretation panels are planned.
Standing atop the castle on high scaffolding, Catherine gave an overview of the castle’s history to a group of advisers. âIt was the episcopal palace for a while,â she said.
While she was talking, we were working on the bellcote.
âThis part was particularly threatened because of the climate.
Describing a grand residence – worthy of a wealthy lord, Ms McLoughlin said there was a staircase to the very top of the tower. Vaulted ceilings speak of sophisticated and elegant architecture on the bedroom’s ground floor.
âIt was a utility space. You had the kitchen area here. The bishop’s room had its own fireplace and toilet.
A murderer protected the bishop’s room and a house in the castle was occupied until 1920, where the aisle was located. The site was surrounded by a moat, and pivot stones for the drawbridge are still visible in the castle area, fitting snugly inside the wall recess.
The mound at the rear of the castle is believed to date back to the Bronze Age and was a funerary monument. A socket ax dating from this period from Fethard is kept in the British Museum.
Featuring UK granite and Dundry stone, the castle has fantastic materials and features that Ms McLoughlin and the team working on the site plan to highlight when it opens to the public.
âIn the 15th century it was a very high standard building with a lot of land. It was a very significant ecclesiastical operation in the town of Grange, âsaid McLoughlin.
Sinead Kidd of Fethard Community Development said: âThe castle is a vital part of the community here. It’s so rare to have a castle in a village. We have a walking path and the area in front of the castle has been completely landscaped.
âThe castle is an iconic symbol in Fethard and it is therefore very important for the village. Even the youth group uses it as a logo so that it crosses the generations. “
Regarding the possible use of the castle’s ground floor, especially out of season, Ms Kidd said: âWe could use it as a community space for youth groups or maybe as a community art space. The Fethard Community Development Association is very grateful to Wexford County Council and Catherine, in particular, for their support of this project.