DAR - Section 6 Conclusions (Download Section 6: Conclusions)



Key proposals presented in the original Masterplan document included:
 A linear park on the banks of the River Nore, linking Bateman Quay to Green’s Bridge
 Conservation of historic structures on site
 Retention, adaptation and reuse of existing modern structures on site
 Provision for cultural, housing, retail, educational and tourist uses
 Access

Demolitions (to slab level) are taking place by DIAGEO in advance of the handover of the site to Kilkenny Council and include the following structures, this work will be archaeologically monitored: The garage and car port to the north of the River Breagagh and the kegging and bottling plant, maturation tanks and fermentor block to the south of the river (Section IV Figure 24).

The Masterplan is a land use and urban design document and evidence from across the world has shown*:
 Historic environments allow distinctive businesses to thrive
 They create oases in towns and cities which are fundamental to their appeal, encourage social interaction, people making repeat visits and staying for longer
 Imaginative leadership of their development and management can achieve outstanding results in a relatively short period.

Conservation has become a strategy to achieve a balance between urban growth and quality of life. The greater the availability of sustainable planning, design and building practices can improve urban areas and the quality of life they support. When properly managed, new functions in urban historic settlements such as services and tourism are important economic initiatives that can contribute to the conservation of cultural heritage. Failing to capture these opportunities leads to unsustainable cities and poor implementation results in the destruction of heritage assets.

Work associated with the redevelopment of the plan area has sought to protect the historic character, the monuments, their setting, views and prospects and encourage the creation of new vistas to existing landmarks. Redevelopment provides an opportunity for an integrated multi-disciplinary approach to improve the presentation, legibility and civic amenity of these monuments together with identifying a potential dividend for the further enhancement of the city’s historic core.

*The Viking Triangle Waterford City Centre Failte Ireland and Waterford County Council p. 4


In order to inform the Masterplan process, an archaeological strategy has been developed. This strategy is driven by the need to protect and understand the above ground structures and their setting including the extensive below ground archaeological remains and retain their significance within a newly architecturally designed quarter.

The strategy also seeks to understand the iterative design process and the phasing of proposed developments in order that archaeological proposals are presented in a timely and appropriate manner.

Throughout the Masterplan area a wide range of archaeological remains, artefacts, and features have been encountered to date. Burials, Franciscan abbey remains, ruined towers, city walls and defences, burgage plots, medieval deposits, industrial mill houses, along with burials of felons from a 19th century gaol house and reclamation practices, riverside pleasure houses with stone jettys, indicate an extremely rich and varied archaeological record.

Part and parcel of this report was to understand the evolution of the area and assess the layered deposits that have accumulated over time contributing to the setting and urban history of the area. It is these multiple layers that need to be understood and celebrated within the new proposal.


The most successful strategies are a step by step, targeted process that engage with and build from previous and available information. This report provides an overview of the existing knowledge base that can be availed of for future investigation work on site and can act as the beginning of an archaeological and historic archive to be added to and developed throughout the subsequent building phases of the plan area.

Key to developing the plan area is understanding the archaeology, this includes the above ground monuments and the below ground potential*.

The absence of an overall strategic direction in the archaeological research that has taken place within the Masterplan area to date has left the overall testing and excavation record fragmented and difficult to interpret. Also there is no final archaeological excavation report for three large excavations (with Medieval findings) that have taken place within and adjacent to the Masterplan area, namely the Courthouse, St Francis’ Abbey, the Vicar’s Choral building.

The development of an archaeological deposit model was explored for the plan area. A deposit model is basically a contour map showing the top level of archaeology identified by a recognisable layer consistent in most trenches and geotechnical investigations within the plan area. The information from existing test trenches, excavations and site investigations were reviewed for this purpose, however, an archaeological deposit model was ultimately not possible to produce as there is no identified level for the top of archaeology in test trenching and geotechnical investigations through the plan area.

While isolated spots of material were visible such as possible post medieval walls (north end of the site at 43.1m and 42.44m OD) or exposed 18th -19th building material with the KCAS, this information cannot be consistently identified throughout the plan area. Attempting to extrapolate the levels to top of archaeological areas within the plan area is therefore not feasible and assumptions made based on isolated results can easily lead to overestimating or underestimating the impact of development on the area. Simply put there is not enough information to identity local variations in the record.

All investigations have been placed on mapping accompanying this report and are detailed in the narrative as well as Appendix E.

Broadly considered, the archaeological evidence to date has placed earlier medieval deposits and features along the street frontage from Vicar Street, Parliament Street and onto Kieran’s Street at the south end of the plan area. The obvious exception to this is St Francis Abbey and the medieval structures within the precinct that extend to the River Nore.

The stratigraphy seen in archaeological investigations throughout the former DIAGEO site commonly shows a sequence of modern concrete, sitting above made ground, over evidence of post medieval walls or structural foundations, overlaying (an often sterile) organic dark silty clay with occasional finds dating it to the medieval period, along with river silts and gravels, and a yellow boulder clay.

Based on the current information it is proposed to carry out large scale excavation in the area defined as the Abbey Precinct and investigation in order to answer key research questions (Figure 52 and 53). It is proposed that the existing ground level in and around the historic monument of St Francis’ Abbey will be largely reproduced throughout the Abbey precinct area (ie reducing the existing ground level) to provide a cohesiveness for this area and connecting topographically the various historical elements while distinctly setting the precinct area within the wider Masterplan area.

Targeted investigation is proposed at this stage throughout the rest of the site, this is based on the historic and excavation information we have to date. It is proposed to gain a better understanding of the sub-profile of the Brewery, Grace’s Castle and the Market Yard /Historic Garden character areas through a series of systematic boreholes which will be devised in order to provide information on the nature and depths of deposits. Test excavation can then take place in response to the findings and the proposed design.

To the north of the River Breagagh ongoing archaeological investigation from the KCAS should inform the archaeological approach and highlight any areas of potential that may extend into the plan area. In the design of this area, elements (for example, open spacing, hard landscaping, the planting regime) must be introduced that will reflect the medieval garden plots.

To the north and south long linear garden plots developed from medieval burgage plots and reclamation practices and stone jetties have been revealed along the River Nore. Targeted investigation presents an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the underground profile of these areas and an appreciation of the historic development, allowing the future use of the plan area to be designed in response to the archaeological findings whilst also enabling the interpretation and enhancement of the upstanding elements.

Measures for conserving historic structures throughout the entire area are detailed in this report (Section 4 and Appendix F). Further collaborative research and survey on the upstanding building remains should be sought in association the conservation work for the Tea House, Evan’s Tower, and the city wall. As St Francis’ Abbey is in state care it is presumed that conservation will be undertaken by the authorities as necessary.

Future phases of work that require excavation or a reduction in ground level provide an opportunity to investigate the below ground level archaeological potential of the area in a planned and strategic manner. In terms of the investigation, excavation should be planned in order to answer key research questions and to gather information to appropriately conserve the upstanding monuments and understand their setting and how the area developed over time. Preservation in-situ is considered the preferred option when designing and constructing within an archaeological sensitive area.**

The proposed design principal of piling seeks to minimise the impact on the below ground archaeology by minimising the amount of excavation required and this principal will be further informed once the detailed design is known and an archaeological impact statement prepared for each proposed structure. This approach favours preservation insitu so the Masterplan area can be developed and maintained in such a manner that it will retain the significance of the place, facilitate public access and add to the social and cultural infrastructure of Kilkenny town.

Preservation insitu - The Piling Concept
In the character areas outside the Abbey Precinct, where the ground level consists of a reinforced concrete slab, the approach is to minimise the impact on buried archaeological material and features and avail of piling techniques to develop the plan area.

Archaeological testing can take place in advance in order to understand the below ground potential of where the piling is proposed so informed decisions can be made in relation to avoidance.

While piling is the preferred technique, it should be recognised that the need to minimise the impact of piling may have significant effects on the design and cost of the structure. Non-standard forms of structure will be needed and will have to be agreed either by contract or through a guidance mechanism that proposed developers will have to agree to.

The viability of the remaining ‘post piling’ archaeology is contingent on the extent of interpreting the entire site. Where the plan area has been adequately characterised, it should be possible to avoid the most archaeologically sensitive areas of the site through the careful placement and appropriate load-bearing spanning structures***.
Where piling techniques are adapted to meet archaeological parameters and the requirements for the substructure, pile centres cannot be less than 6m****. It is proposed that a sub-structure of all new buildings within the Masterplan will consist of piles set out to a 7.5m grid with the ground beam located above the existing slab level. This will occur in order to minimise the impact on archaeological deposits which will be left in-situ for future investigations.

Pile caps, ground beams, drainage pipes, and utilities ducts will all be located above the existing ground level. Ground levels will be made up to allow universal access.

Investigations into retaining the existing slab will be required to assess its load bearing capacity and effectiveness from an engineering point of view so the overall approach can be validated.

In the vicinity of new buildings the ground level will be raised by c. 500mm (centre of the plan area)-1500mm (extreme north of plan area), this is dependent on the flood requirement mitigation measures. Where possible new services will be located within this built up zone thereby not affecting the archaeological layers. In the case of drainage there is a preference to link to existing services and there by minimise below ground disturbance.

It is also proposed that there will be no basemented structures and that the existing structures such as the Brewhouse and Mayfair will be left in place in order to minimise ground disturbance*****.
For the proposed building locations a detailed impact assessment can be carried out in relation to the potential impact of piling on below ground remains. Where it becomes clear that excavation may be required to accommodate a building design, lift shaft or retaining wall, if required, the appropriate archaeological response can be formulated in conjunction with the authorities.

In order to assist in future decisions, it is essential that a record of the foundations, as built, is kept with the archaeological archive for the plan area.

This should include a final pile plan and loading details as well as records from any investigation test pits (including geotechnical). All information should also be lodged with the National Monuments Service as part of the licensing requirement.

*Historic England Guidance May 2015 Preservation in situ, condition assessment and monitoring Draft for consultation

**Framework and Principles for the protection of the archaeological heritage DAHGI 1999 pg 24

***English Heritage, , Piling and Archaeology – An English Heritage Guidance Note, pg 21

****This is recommended in Archaeology and Development Guidelines for good practice for developers (2000) Section 2.33 Substructure design – foundations pg 13

*****Archaeology and Development Guidelines for Good Practice for Developers, prepared by ICOMOS for the Heritage Council, 2000, section 2.3.5 substructure design – basements pg. 14 and Framework and Principles DAHGI, 1999 section, 3.8 Historic Towns within present day urban areas pg. 30.


Cartographic and documentary sources have been used to compile the following mapping information (Figure 48) reflecting the dominant character areas throughout the plan area. The existing landuse can be classified as industrial and transport in the form of carparking, both urban in nature. However this was not always the case and from north to south the principle historic land uses are broadly captured through an analysis of cultural heritage datasets and the findings from excavation reports providing an overview of the most significant activities and features onsite. The character areas are as follows:

1. The Gardens (including burgage plots)
2. Mills, Dwellings and Industry
3. The Horse Barracks
4. Watergate
5. The Abbey Precinct
6. The Mill Stream
7. The Brewery
8. Grace’s Castle/ City and County Gaol and Courthouse
9. The Market Yard – formerly historic garden
10. Historic gardens – (including burgage Plots)

While each of these unique character areas are located within the zone of archaeological potential and within the area of medieval reclamation within Kilkenny, they all have to potential to reveal distinct historical/ archaeological remains when investigated. This type of information along with the design process can assist in focusing the archaeological investigation in each of these areas and developing the overall archaeological strategy.

As part of the Masterplan programme consideration should be given to the appropriate naming of various sectors with the overall area. Place names are an important part of our cultural heritage. They provide a link to the past and reflect the natural, built and cultural heritage of a locality. It is important that place names of all new developments reflect the local topography, history, culture, ecology or significant people and events and incorporate traditional and Irish language place names from the locality.

Figure 48 Historic Character Map


As part of the Masterplan process this report provides broad archaeological information in relation to potential below ground findings. Further investigation of below ground remains will add to the existing knowledge of the plan area.

In brief the archaeological findings and knowledge for each area is outlined below but is dealt with in more detail in Sections 2, 3 and 4, Appendix C, D and E and Figures 20 and 23 of the report. Also outlined below, is the Masterplan proposal at the present time, for proposed buildings within each character area (Figure 54). This is the general design proposal at this stage of the process and will be subject to alteration as further information emerges.
Key to considering preservation in situ are the following questions:
 What is the current condition of the archaeological finds and deposits?
 What are the likely development or land-use impacts?
 (in relation to waterlogged sites) what is the availability and quality of water on the site and its wider catchment?

Whilst the archaeological strategy seeks to guide the future use of the site, detail design will allow specific proposals to emerge. To date the design framework has undergone significant alteration and has the capacity for further modification depending on archaeological investigations results. As this is an iterative process testing and excavation will inform the final detailed design proposals. As a result of the work carried out for the archaeological report, the following information and various research questions within individual historic character areas have emerged, these include-

The Gardens (including burgage plots) (north of KCAS)
This is the most northern area. On mapping sources it is shown as garden plots laid out in an orchard extending north-south from Green Street and east-west from Vicar Street. One of the plots is known as the ‘Treasurer’s garden’ on Hogan’s map of 1860 (Figure 11). Excavations to date have revealed the remnants of two stone walls at a depth of 0.6m (c. 43.1m OD) and 1.7m (c. 42.44m OD) below present ground level and probably relate to walls shown on Rocque’s map (1760) (Figure 20 and Figure 8). Also to the north of the Masterplan area, the late seventeenth to early eighteenth century abutment of Green’s Bridge was excavated in 2003.

Medieval deposits and structures have been revealed along Vicar Street and Green Street, with for example the excavation of the Vicar’s Coral building (03E1901), a medieval battered wall at Mill Lane (97E0481) and organic reclamation deposits of a possible medieval date as well as post medieval deposits on Green Street (99E0713).

There is the possibility that medieval deposits may extend into the Masterplan area however to date only post medieval features have been revealed.

To the north of the Masterplan area the land is characterised historically by medieval burgage plots overlain with historical gardens as shown on the cartographic sources.

It is proposed to construct community and social housing (Building No. 14) immediately to the north of the KCAS.

The Gardens (including burgage plots) (south of KCAS)
Immediately north of the River Breagagh the lands on historic maps are shown as large open areas probably meadow land used for summer grazing and the river is shown extending into this area on earlier maps.

Test pits excavated for geotechnical purposes in 2014 (Appendix D) (TP08, 05, 07, 04 and 09) provided an understanding of the below ground profile, a modern surface was encountered from 0.0m-0.5m and modern made ground with inclusions of mortar, red brick, yellow brick and modern glass was recorded from 0.25-2.2m, another modern surface - concrete slab, was encountered in TP04 and TP07 between 0.6-0.65m bgl. Archaeological monitoring of drainage works in 2004 was carried out in an east-west direction along the northern bank of the River Breagagh to a depth of 2m. A sterile black riverine silt clay was revealed between 1.2 and 2m bgl sealed by a deposit of mixed building rubble. Two concrete surfaces were encountered. Overall the area appears to be disturbed and built up in a staged process with made ground (this possibly occurred with the construction of the bridge over the River Breagagh in 1974 so the ground level would be roughly level on both sides of the river) with possible river silts encountered at the lower levels.

Mills, Dwellings and Industry
Archaeological investigation has been carried out along the River Nore and also for the Kilkenny Central Access Scheme (KCAS) combining both ground excavation and underwater survey. A large industrial 17th century milling complex that spanned both sides of the River Nore was excavated revealing seven phases development.

Features such as cobbled areas and post medieval structures relating to features shown on Rocque (1760) and ‘Mill Lane’ as named on later OS mapping have been revealed as part of the KCAS. In general archaeological features relating to the post medieval period were revealed at 1m below existing ground level and riverine deposits were found at 1-2m, archaeological investigation for the KCAS is ongoing. In brief, to date 90 architectural fragments have been revealed and excavation work is currently taking place investigating post medieval material to a depth of approximately 1.2m bgl* to the rear of 22 Vicar Street.

The Chancellor’s House is shown adjacent to Mill Lane on Hogan (Figure 11) and the 1840 OS mapping (Figure 12). A small portion of this area was archaeologically monitored as part of drainage works to a depth of 2.7-3.5m bgl and exposed a deposit of black riverine silt approx. 0.65m thick and sealed by mixed building rubble and gravelly sand interpreted as late 19th/ 20th century reclamation and levelling**. No structural evidence of the Chancellor’s House was revealed.

The Bull Inn is recorded at the corner of Vicar St and St Canice’s Place and this has been assessed and a stabilisation programme proposed for the one remaining wall that is left of the structure. Of interest in this area is the potential to reveal the remains of a medieval building. The area was previously tested by VJK Archaeologists and walls belonging to a long narrow building (potentially medieval) were revealed at 600mm bgl extending southwards into the Masterplan area***. Of interest is the early date for these walls at such a level.

As part of the Kilkenny Main drainage scheme****, a substantial battered wall was revealed approx. 0.6m bgl which extended for a further 2m and consisted of approximately 12-14 courses of stone and extended for approximately 12m in an east-west direction at the north end of No 20 Vicar Street. This substantial structure was recorded and preserved insitu and may extend into the Masterplan area along what was historically called Mill Lane*****.

As part of the KCAS works, an area of approx. 20m x 20m at chainage 110 has revealed evidence for milling complexes at 2.4m bgl and these are to be preserved insitu and may extend into the northern most section of the Masterplan area.

Two structures are proposed to be located between the two afore mentioned character areas. Both buildings (Building No. 12 and Building No. 13) are located in the northern section of the Masterplan area, immediately north of the River Breagagh and south of the KCAS.

*pers. comm. C. Flynn, May 2015

**04E0694ext Phase 3

***pers. comm. Colm Flynn, May 2015

****Patrick Neary Licence Number 97E0481

*****pers. comm. C. Flynn, May 2015

The Horse Barracks
The location of this structure (built c.1700) is shown on the historic maps as backing onto the River Breagagh and probably incorporated the City Wall. Excavation (trial bore holes (99E0385 ext) have revealed early modern pottery, glass and metal, rubble, undated brick, mortar and animal bone probably associated with this building. It partially occupied the space now inhabited by the Mayfair. It looked out to an area known locally as the ring. On the riverside there is the remains of a bridge structure surviving as two spring stones of a truncated arch.

Three window samples have taken place in this area (WS13, 16 and 17 (2014 Appendix D). Reinforced concrete and hardcore was encountered from 0.00-0.45m with made ground to a depth of 1.2m and natural encountered from 1.2-6.2m.

Of interest is Test pit CB which included dark brown organic peaty material, animal bone and charcoal from 1.8-3.1m below ground level that has been interpreted as a possible archaeological layer and river silts related to a flood event.

It is proposed to retain and adapt the existing Mayfair building (Building No 10) (Section 4.2.11 and 6.7). The Mayfair building currently occupies part of the location of the former ‘Horse Barracks’. Any interventions to the Mayfair will be archaeologically investigated under Ministerial Consent due to the close proximity of the city wall and Watergate which form part of the city defences, national monument, and all excavation work will be carried out under archaeological supervision.

The Abbey Precinct
St Francis’ Abbey forms the focus of this area and is accompanied by the impressive remains of Evan’s Tower and the City Wall. Extensive excavations have taken place revealing that a transept, nave, cloister and cloister walk once flanked the upstanding bell tower and unroofed choir. Further features located on historic maps include St Francis’ well, precinct walls, as well as the possibility of further towers. Documentary sources also indicate the presence of a cemetery and excavation to date have revealed burials in the transept likely to be 17th century in date (evidenced from the retrieval tomb fragments) and multiple burials located at the cloister walk which may be victims of the plague given the haphazard nature that they were buried in. It is thought that further extensive burials will be revealed on site.

Apart from Ó hEochaidhe’s excavation located to the west of St Francis’ Abbey there has been no other large scale archaeological investigation in this area. To date, geotechnical investigations including the 2 window samples (WS) WS18 and WS03 and the 2 boreholes (BH), BHD and BHE excavated in the area surrounding St Francis Abbey (Figure 23), have not revealed any archaeological material. A compact grey clay with occasional red brick fragments was revealed at a depth of 1.2-2.2m and beneath this was a grey green sandy clay with small angular stones at 2.2-3.2m in WS18. In WS03, a grey sandy clay with mortar and grey brown clay was revealed at 1.2-2.2m this was interpreted as early modern made up ground.

In BHD black silty deposits containing frequent inclusions of red brick and mortar were revealed between 0.9m-1.5m. Modern pottery was recovered from these deposits at 1.1m and 1.5m below ground level (bgl). Between 1.5m-2m mid grey silty sand with frequent inclusions of mortar, red brick, roots, wood fragments and charcoal was identified. In BHE a mixed grey brown coarse silty sand containing mortar, red brick and some stones was revealed from 0.9m-1.6m, with a layer of mortar contained within, at 1.3-1.4m. Between 1.6m-2.0m dark grey brown sandy silty clay contained inclusions of cinder and mortar. These deposits were interpreted as early modern made up ground.

Figure 49 Historic OPW photographs of structures surrounding St Francis Abbey

The Abbey Precinct – St Francis’ Abbey (National Monument)
The Masterplan proposes to retain National Monument of St. Francis’ Abbey, protect the existing remains and enhance the setting of the abbey. It is proposed to excavate this area of the site to reveal the original walls of the Transept, Nave, Cloister and potential burial grounds probably located adjacent to the abbey to its south east and north east (Figure 50). The identification of buried archaeological material and structures will help define the medieval precinct and features that surround St Francis Abbey.

The treatment and presentation of the structural remains will be dependent on the condition of the newly revealed features. One option maybe to mark the location of these walls by the use of stone flags in a fashion similarly used by Kilkenny County Council to mark the line of the City Walls at Irishtown / Watergate if they are in a poor condition but at this stage of the design process it is about keeping as many options open for the interpretation of features.

The approach to large scale excavation on site and the re-investigation of the trancept, nave and cloister should consider strategic partnerships with academic institutions and delivering research excavations educating 3rd level volunteers*.

Excavation involving the public and educated volunteers is not a new phenomenon in Ireland with a number of archaeological schools and community led programmes being set up in recent years.

There is merit and precedence to associate investigative work with volunteer programs and open the experience to the general public in a controlled manner subject to health and safety requirements. This also has the advantage of uniquely identifying St Francis’ Abbey within the medieval city of Kilkenny and acting as a live attraction and educational experience.

It is also proposed to excavate in the area of St. Francis’ Well to determine its exact location and identify any adjoining structures. The well structure will be fully recorded and potentially exposed for viewing by the general public depending on the quality of the archaeology revealed. If the revealed original walls of the well are in poor condition it is proposed to mark the location of these walls by the use of stone flags or another suitable material.

Based on an assessment of historic mapping it is proposed to excavate test trenches in an east-west direction to establish the possible line of the City Wall or Abbey Precinct wall (Figure 51). Based on the results of these initial test trenches further excavations may be undertaken to reveal structural remains. All revealed structures will be recorded fully and potentially exposed for viewing by the general public depending on the quality of the archaeology revealed.

Historic mapping indicates the possibility of further towers to the north and south east of the Abbey. It is proposed to test excavate these areas to establish if there are any below ground remnants of these structures. Depending on the nature of the remains, a presentation strategy will be established.

Actions (Figures 52 and 53)
• Reinvestigation of Marcus Ó hEochaidhe’s excavation, establishing the extent, depth and nature of the subsurface remains.
 Identification of the monastic cemetery – burials have been found to the south of the nave and in the cloister area (and these areas will be revisited) investigations should concentrate to the north and east of St Francis Abbey.
 Investigation of the location of St Francis’ well and site of a tower as shown on the first edition OS 6-inch Map.
 Investigation of precinct walls, along the waterfront and to the east of the abbey.
 Archaeological investigation is required around Evan’s tower in order to understand its current stability and the conservation methods required – these proposals are detailed in Section IV and Appendix F. A detailed building survey should take place in association with the conservation work in order to understand the age and phasing as well as areas of rebuild of the structure.

*Programmes such as the ‘Archaeological Adventure at the Blackfriary in Trim Co Meath’ provides a structured learning experience open to participants of 12 years and older that is accredited by St Patricks College, Dublin, City University.
The Bective Abbey Project is partly funded by the RIA grant programme (2010-2013) and supported by Meath County Council as an action of its Heritage Plan 2007-2011. This research excavation is about educating 3rd level volunteers in the traditional and modern methods of archaeological excavation and communicating the experience of participating in a ‘dig’ and understanding the processes through a series of podcasts. In many ways it is an innovative social and communicative exercise as much as a research project.

Figure 50 Previous excavation and monitoring work at St Francis’ Abbey

Plate 94 view from the east window

Plate 95 Smithwicks yard to the SE of the Abbey

Figure 51 Ordnance Survey manuscript town plan of Kilkenny produced in 1841*

*Provided by Rob Goodbody and taken from the National Archives

Figure 52 Areas identified though research for archaeological investigation

Figure 53 Rocque’s map showing areas of investigation

The Mill Stream
This area now a carpark to the south of the Watergate theatre was revealed through excavation as the foundations of a medieval rectangular stone building which was cut by an 18th century mill-race and built upon by later millrace enclosed in a tunnel*. Bradley has noted in the Kilkenny Town Atlas that this was the site of St Francis’ Abbey mill.

One new structure is proposed in the central section of the plan area to the east and south of the Watergate Theatre, building No. 11 (Watergate Theatre), this will possibly connect to the Watergate Theatre to facilitate the extension and an improvement of its facilities.

*Martin Reid 96E0047

The Brewery
There has been a commercial brewing presence on site for the last 300 years. Historic maps chart the development of the area and the site has undergone major redevelopment from the 1960’s onwards with the development of the brewhouse, maturation building, fermentor block as well as the bottling and kegging plant. Test excavation of the Fermentor Block took place over 4 phases and the initial phase revealed a black organic silty clay deposit with a decayed horizontal decayed timber beam thought to be possibly medieval in date (1.32m below ground level), later phases revealed possible walls considered to be post-medieval in date. Also within the brewery complex an organic silt, possibility a medieval reclamation layer was discovered at the base of an excavated cutting at 2.50m deep. A limestone arch of a 19th century culvert thought to be adapted from a medieval millstream was exposed 0.8m below ground level (04E0694). Monitoring for an underground ESB cable revealed a series of 18th and 19th century walls, box drains and culverts a number of which tie in with Rocque’s map (1758) and the 1st ed 6-inch OS (1839) all were revealed within 1m below the existing ground level.

Four window samples (WS12, 04, 02, 01) have taken place within this area (Appendix D). Reinforced concrete and hardcore extends from 0.3 to 0.45 across the area from beneath the present ground level. The deposits from between 2.2m to 6.2m were interpreted as natural and appear as sand and gravels. Window Sample 1 encountered brown and black silty clays from 0.6-2m bgl., and Window Sample 2 encountered a dark brown black course sandy clay at 0.45-1m and a grey sandy clay at 1.2-2.2m. Both these samples are located nearer the river Nore and are different in their make up when compared to Window Samples 012 and 04, these samples have compact grey brown clay with mortar and occasional red brick from 1.2 – 2.2m overlain by deposits that include mortar, red brick, angular stones and shell.

Findings to date within the plan area have revealed a series of post medieval walls, reclamation processes, a possible medieval sterile layer and former millraces now culverted.

It is proposed to place three new buildings in this central section of the plan area and retain the brewhouse:

Building No.6 (Riverside B) - Overlooks the River Nore on the site of the Bottling Store which is to be removed.
Building No.7 - Located on the site of the Maturation Building which is to be removed.
Building No.8 (Brewhouse) - Existing structure to be retained and refurbished (refer section 4.2.10 and section 6.7).
Building No.9 (Riverside C) - Overlooks the River Nore on the site of the bottling Store.

Grace’s Castle/ City and County Gaol and Courthouse
Grace’s Castle is known through documentary sources and the Courthouse and Gaol are shown on historic map sources. The land associated with these structures extends to the banks of the River Nore in a narrow linear garden plot extending east-west. This plot of land is located adjacent to the south of the millrace within the existing brewery complex. It is shown on the 1950’s aerial photograph (Plate 83) as a vacant plot. Documentary evidence has suggested that there may be buried defences associated with the earliest phase, Graces Castle, now contained within the brewery site while the Gaol and courthouse have clearly been separate and distinct properties as evidenced in Appendix C. Investigations in the form of geotechnical investigation (Appendix D BH01 and WS11) and excavation for an outfall upgrade (4m x 7m by 3m deep) (Figures 20, 23) has failed to reveal any features associated with the Castle. A possible riverine deposit (a dark grey brown silt) was detected below c.1.5m.

Excavations associated with the Courthouse (which is located outside the Masterplan area) revealed a rich archaeological area producing over 1000 contexts and over 200 excavated features. Medieval burgage plots were evident orientated both north-south and east-west and pottery revealed from these features dated from the mid-12th to 14th century. 23 inhumations were recorded and probably related to felons executed within the confines of the prison. To date, this excavation report is not published and the depth of the deposits and how they relate to the Masterplan area is unknown. What is known from the test excavation report is that a possible medieval layer was encountered at approximately between 1.30m-1.55m below current ground level and was approximately 0.8m thick.

As stated in section 6.4, following the demolitions on the DIAGEO site it is proposed to carry out a systematic bore hole survey to obtain a below ground profile in order to inform proposals and test excavation where necessary. Investigation to the rear of Grace’s Castle will seek to establish if there are any defences associated with the castle and whether or not medieval burgage plots found during the courthouse excavations extend into this area as well as seeking to identify the historic mill race.

Two buildings are proposed in this area Building No.4 which is located in the southern section of the Masterplan site abutting the rear boundary of the Courthouse and Building No.5 (Riverside A) which is located in the southern section of the Masterplan site overlooking the River Nore on the site of the Bottling Store which is to be removed.

The Market Yard (former garden plots)
This area of the Masterplan has altered over time changing from burgage plots and elaborate gardens as shown on the historic maps to an open area used as a market. Excavations along Bateman Quay have revealed post medieval reclamation practices, revetment walls and a stone jetty associated with the northern most teahouse. Both tea houses have been previously archaeologically assessed* and conservation measures have been put forward as part of this report. To the east of the area, along Kieran Street, reclamation deposits overlying organic medieval material (95E0062, 25-26 St Kieran Street) have been encountered as well as medieval housing and reclamation practices (98E0167 and 97E0334, Nos 10-13 St Kieran Street).

To the south of the Masterplan area the land is characterised historically by medieval burgage plots overlain with historical gardens as shown on the cartographic sources.

Three new buildings are proposed in the southern section of the plan area:

Building No.1 - Located within the Bateman Quay surface car park.
Building No.2 - Located immediately adjoining the Pump House Station.
Building No.3 - Located between the Pumping Station and the Bank of Ireland building.

*Licence Refs 01E0554 and 01E0555

Figure 54 Masterplan Proposal


The close proximity of the Masterplan area to the River Nore and Breagagh offers huge opportunities for the development of an interesting linear park referencing the historic uses and planting of the past. Native meadow species could be encouraged by adapting traditional meadow management practices from elsewhere in Kilkenny and planted in order to increase the regeneration of native wild flowers. It also offers opportunities to be further developed as a wildlife corridor enabling the wider local environment to benefit.

Consideration should be given to the redevelopment of orchards and planting regimes that include vegetables and herbs and consultation with the head gardener from Rothe House could provide valuable insights to recreating and establishing historic planting treatments.

The use of exotic garden plants known for their scent, colour and fruiting/berrying qualities would greatly benefit wild birds, mammals, moths, butterflies and insects.

As well as historic mapping and documentary evidence, the results of environmental analysis from archaeological investigations of the plan area may assist in planting choices.

Good horticultural practice can encourage the plan area in becoming a successful heritage attraction as well as a venue for passive events. The development of a linear park creates the opportunity to link with other gardens and parklands in Kilkenny such as the 17th urban garden at Rothe House or the rose garden at Kilkenny Castle, greening the city and developing a gardening and planting trail to encourage people to get out and experience the city and its natural flora on foot.

Both soft and hard landscaping proposals can present and interpret the archaeological findings, the extent of archaeological features/structures and enhance the visitor experience*. The use of materials such as the paving stones used to mark the line of the City Wall in Kilkenny or the bronze City Wall markers used in Dublin to show the extent of the medieval wall precinct can be informative, equally depending on the nature of the below ground remains, features can be exposed or cover by glass. There are many different options for the presentation of elements of the historic character which can support a particular vision and create a cohesiveness for the Masterplan area.

Information generated for the site can be communicated through many types of media as well as the physical environment. For example, print media, signage, re-enactments, blogs, audio-visual and lighting displays, tours, QR codes and digital apps can all be used to aid the interpretation of a site.

Public and universal access should be encouraged into and around the historic structures within the plan area and a strategy developed for enhancing the public circulation between sites.

*The Heritage Council Ideas for interpreting heritage sites, Irish Walled Towns Network


All historic monuments will be retained, conserved and sensitively incorporated into the Masterplan area. Both Kilkenny Development Plan (2014-2020) and The Heritage Council advocate the use and reuse of existing buildings*. The Brewhouse (built 1960’s) is a structure of industrial and technological importance while the Mayfair (built 1930’s) and its association with the Ballroom and the Brewery make it significant from a social perspective. The Brewhouse serves to retain an association with industry and brewing on site, a commercial activity that has taken place over the last 300 years.

Creative adaption of each of the above structures could readily enhance their purpose on site and how they are appreciated, while maintaining an association with the brewing industry. The reuse and adaption of both the Brewhouse and the Mayfair would limit further archaeological disturbance in key sensitive areas.

*The Heritage Council, Dublin City Council 2004 report ‘Built to Last: the sustainable re-using of buildings’

The Masterplan proposes the retention and reuse of the Brewhouse Building as an Office Building / 3rd Level Educational Facility / Research & Development Centre. It is believed that this building is of interest from an industrial heritage perspective and its retention is appropriate within the overall plan area.

The elevations of the Brewhouse building are very distinctive and are one of the few expressions of 1960s and 1970s modern industrial architecture to be found in Kilkenny city. It is proposed to externally insulate the building and replace the existing single glazed windows with a Crittal or similar steel framed double glazed window system sympathetic to the original industrial aesthetic.

The Masterplan proposes the retention and reuse of the Mayfair Building as an office building. A detailed appraisal of the existing two storey building suggests that it is of little architectural significance internally or externally. What merit the building has lies in its social heritage.

Consideration should be given to adapting the structure so instead of turning its back on the City Wall it embraces this historic feature and provides viewing opportunities to showcase the early defensive system of the city.

The City Wall to the rear of the Mayfair building is partially overgrown with vegetation and while there is a clear view provided of the structure from Watergate Bridge (Irishtown) this view is currently dominated by the adjacent Mayfair building on the south bank and the gable end and other structures (see section 4.2.13 Hop Store) on the north bank.

With the redevelopment of the Masterplan area there is an opportunity to enhance the setting of this section of City Wall including considering the pedestrianisation of the line of the City Wall connecting Watergate and Evan’s Tower and incorporating these features into the Medieval Mile which is now part of the Ireland’s Ancient Southeast initiative*.

In accordance to Kilkenny City and Environs Development Plan**, it is an objective (71) of the County Council:
‘to facilitate and support the implementation of the existing (and any further) conservation plans’.

The Kilkenny City Wall Conservation Plan seeks to protect, maintain and encourage the enhancement and setting of the City Wall and riverside defences. Creative architectural design solutions should be sought that will enable this enhancement to take place while complementing the redevelopment process.

*Failte Ireland April 2015

**Kilkenny City and Environs Development Plan 2014-2020 Section 7.3 Built Heritage pg 114

Maturation Building
As part of the proposed demolition works by Diageo the superstructure of the Maturation Buildings will be removed. The building is a single-storey concrete structure that is utilised as a support to 22 large maturation tanks in the brewery. The structure, while of industrial and technical heritage interest, does not function as a building without the tanks and while currently retained with in the plan area its integrity is heavily compromised.

The Masterplan proposes the removal of the Maturation Building. This is a very robust reinforced concrete single storey building of approximately 950 sq.m. with the roof slab effectively acting as a transfer slab. The nature of the existing concrete framed structure unfortunately does not lend itself to reuse or conversion to an alternate use in the long term.

Historic Monuments
Historic monuments namely the tea house, Evan’s Tower and wall walk, the Bull Inn wall and the mill will all be appropriately incorporated and conserved as part of the Masterplan process.

The Mill
The Masterplan proposes the retention of the Mill and allows for a visual link to be established between it and both Evans Tower and the Tea Houses located to the south. This is a protected structure and of interest from an industrial heritage perspective. The newly created linear park along the western bank of the River Nore will facilitate public access to the structure in the future.

The removal of vegetation is required in order to carry out a conservation survey to establish the current condition and how best to conserve this ruinous structure.

Evan’s Tower
The Masterplan proposes to retain Evans Tower and the adjoining Wall Walk. It is proposed to initially stabilise all upstanding remains as they are. The Masterplan proposes the excavation of ground immediately adjoining the tower to allow a full understanding of the structure for the conservation process.

The Masterplan is also proposing two alternate future uses for this structure:

(a) A local new build is proposed to support the modern intervention of steps and deck and guard rails to allow the tower to be used as a viewing point by the general public.
(b) Stabilise all upstanding remains, rebuild the vaulting and stone steps and wall walk so that the tower can be used as part of a public amenity as close to the original form as possible.

The Masterplan proposes to retain the Sacristy in place as this is fundamental to the understanding of the layout of the Abbey.

The Sample Rooms
While acknowledging that the Sample Rooms are listed in the NIAH as being of architectural regional interest the Masterplan proposes to remove this structure as it blocks views of the abbey from the south and disturbs the understanding of the relationship between the Choir, Sacristy and Cloister. Based on reviewed records it is anticipated that the west elevation of the Sample Rooms wall is located on human remains which it is proposed to investigate, and fully record fully as part of the wider excavation of the area.

Bull Inn
The Masterplan proposes the provision of a new street along the line of the original Bull Alley. The existing wall of the Bull Inn will be retained and stabilised as necessary.

Tea Houses
The Masterplan proposes the retention of both Tea Houses. The first will continue to be used as a commercial premises. The second Tea House, while currently derelict, will be renovated to facilitate its use as a commercial premises.

Other Structures
The Masterplan is cognisant of the fact that the Truck Wash Building, the Bottling Store, Hop Store and Kegging Store are to be removed by Diageo in advance of Kilkenny County Council taking possession of the site. It is acknowledged that these are utilitarian structures of no architectural or heritage value.


Kilkenny County Council seeks continually to develop the city as a centre of excellence for creativity in all sectors whilst ensuring the continued protection and enhancement of the city’s magnificent built and natural heritage, its thriving cultural and artistic base and its strong and dynamic services economy. This will ensure that the city will be a vibrant and attractive place for people to visit, work and live in.

In response to these goals the following objectives are fundamental to achieving that vision;

• Integration of former Smithwick’s Brewery site and quayside into the medieval city.
• Redevelop and regenerate the former Smithwick’s Brewery site as a modern, vibrant and permeable complement to the medieval core of Kilkenny City which will consolidate the city’s role as a regional hub.
• Creation of a quayside quarter which addresses the River Nore.
• Establishment of a mixed use Creative Quarter which enhances the Life of the City in Economic, Commercial and Social terms.
• Development of Kilkenny as a location for Creative Industries, Research and Development, Incubation Clusters, University Faculties and Cultural Institutions.
• Development of Kilkenny as Ireland’s Environmental centre of excellence through regeneration of the quayside quarter.
• Establishment of ‘Green City’ Kilkenny as a model for Irish and European cities and communities.
• Allow for the Government ‘Smarter Travel’ initiative published in 2009 and the ‘Mobility Management Plan’ adopted for Kilkenny City.

It is the Council’s aspiration, to create an urban design layout and architectural framework to provide a new urban mixed use quarter for Kilkenny City in a socially inclusive and sustainable manner, which will:

• Have a well-defined sense of place.
• Have a healthy mix of uses including educational, employment, residential, enterprise development, recreational and community uses.
• Have suitable short to medium term uses on site while development proposals are evolving over time.
• Encourage sustainable transport with safe and direct routes for pedestrians and cyclists and provide for the availability of public transport into the city centre and connections with adjacent areas.
• Develop a framework for providing a high standard of architecture and urban design which will induce a dynamic/vibrancy to the character of the area.
• Draws from the unique natural, cultural and built heritage of the area and adds to that context.
• Have a high visual and varied environmental quality aimed at enhancing quality of life.
• Promote an awareness of the principles of sustainability in architectural design to produce buildings that are benign in the use of resources while being attractive and aesthetically pleasing.
• Be substantially achievable in a 15 to 20 year time frame.

To this end several new buildings (section 6.5) are proposed within the Masterplan area and they are designed to be consistent with the flood assessment guidelines.


At this interval it is proposed that the following phases will form the redevelopment of the Masterplan area, this may be subject the change:
Immediate and short term works
Vacant site post DIAGEO Brewery clearance.
Proceed with archaeological site investigation.
Development of a linear park:
Kilkenny County Council have committed to stabilise, protect and conserve the historic structures of Evan’s Tower, the Tea House and the Mill.
Archaeological investigation will take place in order to establish the location of below ground remains including St Francis’ well, precinct walls, burial grounds and possible additional towers. Once the concrete slab is removed it may be possible to carry out geophysical investigation as well as excavations. This work will take place under Ministerial Consent. No excavation works are anticipated along the River Nore, which will necessitate archaeological investigation, as it is proposed to build up the existing bank.
Development of buildings
The development of the proposed buildings (1-14) will occur in a phased approach with the appropriate licenced archaeological investigation taking place in tandem with the proposed development. It is proposed to develop the northern section (north of the KCAS area) of the plan area first, with the immediate redevelopment of the Mayfair and the Brewhouse, south of the Breagagh. Archaeological work associated with the Mayfair will be under Ministerial Consent due to the proximity of the city wall. No ground breaking works are anticipated in association with the redevelopment of Brewhouse.
Long term works (5 year plan)
Kilkenny County Council have committed to the reinvestigation of OhEochaidhe’s excavation as part of a large scale research project.


The development of a Masterplan historic and archaeological paper and digital archive would assist in the transfer of information from one phase to the next and provide a centralised record for all consultants to use and for the general public and interested stakeholders to review.

The development of a Geographical Information System (GIS) could integrate the information gathered for the purpose of this report and add it to the KKAP GIS thereby building up a digital record of all archaeological investigations in Kilkenny. Kilkenny County Council could manage and update the system.

The Heritage Council in collaboration with the four heritage offices for Dublin as well as the DAHG, and the National Museum have developed the Dublin City and County Archaeology GIS project*. The objectives of the project was to:
 Develop a systematic and comprehensive GIS dataset of licensed archaeological activity reports and licence numbers issued in order to streamline access to archaeological information by the profession, professional and non-professional users.
 To raise awareness and facilitate spatial analysis of data, through the web-based presentation/dissemination of information at local, regional and national levels.

If the development of a GIS system and protocols for meta data for the Masterplan area are based on the above named project, the information could be integrated in a seamless manner and form part of a new national information dataset on excavation. Liaison with the Heritage Council could advance this proposal.

*CDHC Ltd and Compass Infomatics Ltd were the consultants engaged on the project.


All archaeological work to take place in the vicinity of St Francis’ Abbey, Evan’s Tower and the City Wall will have to be completed under Ministerial Consent.

Archaeological investigation and monitoring in other areas of the site will be carried out under archaeological licence as all work is located within the Zone of Archaeological Potential for the historic town of Kilkenny.

The Masterplan is a land use and urban design document. While considerations relating to long term ownership and funding are outside the scope of the brief it is important to highlight that it is a key issue in relation to funding archaeological investigation and determining control measures for the proposed design. This is an opportunity to set a model in urban regeneration provided that the governance and property control of this site is placed within a robust framework. It is anticipated that the cost of carrying out archaeological excavation of St Francis’ Abbey will be significant. It is proposed that funding should be sought from Government special funding and EU sources.

While the plan does not deal with the delivery methodology for construction of the various elements into the future, or the setting out of procurement mechanisms or allied funding, Council members should be made aware of any cultural heritage or archaeological funding and compliance issues when deciding on governance issues.


Partnerships with academic institutions that have an interest in the site and projects such as the Monastic Ireland – A guide to Ireland’s Medieval Past developed by the Discovery Programme should be considered in order to archaeologically investigate the site in a strategic manner.

These partnerships could assist and encourage in the development of academic research programmes that would add to the knowledge and prestige of the plan area and the historic features and monuments within it.

The Irish Walled Town Network have been involved with the management, conservation and enhancement of historic walled town in Ireland since 2005*. Active liaison should be promoted with the network and their international counterpart the Walled Towns Friendship Circle.

In terms of physical conservation works collaboration with the OPW and the skilled crafts people that they are training through their newly commissioned apprentice scheme should be sought.

Development of a strategy for enhancing tourist and public circulation within the plan area and link in with existing initiatives such as the Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile and Ireland’s Ancient East.

As the plan progresses provision should be made for further consultation with stakeholders and statutory consultees.

Available funding and heritage grants while limited nowadays should be explored immediately.

*The sharing of information through the Network informed the manner in which the works to Talbots Tower, a defensive 13th century mural tower in Kilkenny were undertaken. Also the walled towns grant funding ensured that the project was carried out and completed on a phased basis.