1990:082 - St Mary Cathedral, King's Island, John's Ward B, (site 18), Limerick, Limerick

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Limerick Site name: St Mary Cathedral, King's Island, John's Ward B, (site 18), Limerick

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

Author: Celie O'Rahilly, c/o Planning Dept., Limerick Corporation, Limerick.

Site type: Urban medieval

ITM: E 557760m, N 657544m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.667420, -8.624494

In late November 1990, Limerick Civic Trust undertook work along the Merchant’s Quay boundary wall of the Cathedral ground/graveyard in order to put in a sloped access from the quay. This work was monitored by the writer over a five day period.

In April 1989, the southern corner of the site between Bridge Street and Merchant’s Quay had been cleared of cellar fill by mechanical excavator and this afforded the opportunity to check the site for remains of the Harbour Wall which ran north-west to south-east along Merchant’s Quay and also to see if Key Lane Gate, (at the end of what is now Bridge St.), could be located. Only the former, approx. 1m thick and built of block stones, was located running parallel to the Cathedral perimeter wall c. 1.5m inside it. Associated with it were archaeological deposits which were not excavated owing to their depth (over 2m) below the ground level. Overlying the wall were the bases of the cellar walls of the houses which fronted on to Bridge St.

It was hoped to pick up the line of this wall to the northwest where the new access was being located. The first cut was done inside the perimeter wall along Augustine Place where there had been a stepped entrance, probably 19th-century. If any of these steps had survived they were to be reused. This cut was made to the street level outside but no stonework was located under the 19th-century rubble back fill.

The new sloped access was then cut running from the Merchant’s Quay perimeter wall towards the Cathedral. Again only loose cellar fill survived with the remains of a narrow cross wall which appears to have been an internal division presumably relating to the houses which fronted onto the Quay outside the line of the Harbour Wall (see early maps and the Civil Survey).

To locate the Harbour Wall would have required extensive digging of the graveyard area of the Cathedral grounds and this was not deemed necessary as the site was not under threat of development.