1987:19 - Fairgreen, Loughrea, Galway

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Galway Site name: Fairgreen, Loughrea

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number:

Author: Alan Hayden, Dept. of Archaeology, University College, Galway

Site type: Town wall

ITM: E 561959m, N 717031m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.202348, -8.569386

The site lies in the garden of a 19th-century house in the south-western corner of the medieval part of Loughrea town. It is bounded on the west by a stream flowing northwards from the lake, c. 50m to the south.

The site was due for development and during the digging of engineer’s test pits a watching brief undertaken by Mr Paul Gosling (Director, Arch. Survey of Co. Galway), recorded the existence of a wall running north-south adjacent to the stream. As this wall lay on the line of the old town wall, an excavation was undertaken from 13-18 April 1987 to establish the date and nature of this wall and of a building marked ‘Turret’ (OS. 1st ed.) located on the line of this wall. The excavation was funded by the developer, G. Mclnerney Ltd, Loughrea, and by a grant from the Dept. of Archaeology, U.C.G.

Three trenches each measuring 2m by 3-3.5m were opened along the line of the wall on the east bank of the stream. The southernmost trench lay adjacent to the ‘Turret’. A Wall 0.65m wide was uncovered. This stood on a low footing laid on natural. Its eastern side, including the footing, survived to a height of 0.3m while its western side was offset on a footing 0.7m high, which also served as a revetment to the east bank of the stream.

The wall was not located in test pits to the south of the ‘Turret’. The material overlying the wall appears to have been produced by the reclamation of the area from the lake and by the construction of a garden in the 19th century. No finds of pre-late 19th-century date were recovered.

The ‘Turret’ proved to be a 19th-century red brick structure – hence its description as a ‘Summer House (OS. 2nd ed.) This ‘Summer House’ was built on a small bridge that cut through the wall.

The wall, judging by its position and extent and by early maps of Loughrea, would appear to have been built in the 16th or 17th century. At this time the lake level may have been dropping and was no longer providing a natural defence to this part of the town.

All the early maps show that this area was uninhabited until the lake reclamation in the 19th century. This would explain the absence of finds contemporary with the wall.