2003:1009 - KILKENNY: 17 Friary Street, Kilkenny

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Kilkenny Site name: KILKENNY: 17 Friary Street

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR 35:58 Licence number: 03E0074

Author: Cóilín Ó Drisceoil and Mary Henry, for Mary Henry Archaeological Services Ltd.

Site type: Building and Pit

Period/Dating: Post Medieval (AD 1600-AD 1750)

ITM: E 650455m, N 655762m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 52.650710, -7.254333

An assessment of a 60m2 retail unit at ground level with three levels of apartments over the corner of 17 Friary Street and Garden Row was requested by Kilkenny City Council. The earliest documentary reference to Friary Street occurs in 1305, when it is called the ‘High way leading to Walkelins Barre’ (Walkin’s Gate) (Bradley 2000, 11). The earliest reference to ‘Friary Street’ occurs on the 1946 OS map.

Garden Row probably developed as a lane servicing the interior of the city wall and it is marked on Rocque’s map (1758). The earliest documentary reference to the street name occurs on the 1841 OS map.

Previous work on Friary Street includes excavation of the adjacent site, to the north and east, by Edmond O’Donovan (Excavations 1997, No. 296, 97E0087). The current development site was not available for testing at the time. A property boundary and garden soils were the only items of possible medieval date found. Post-medieval features included a clay floor and the gable end of an early 18th-century building. The area had been substantially scarped by post-medieval and modern buildings.

Testing by Thaddeus Breen at No. 4 Friary Street some 100m west of the development site uncovered rubble infill above a ‘layer containing a few sherds of medieval pottery and a piece of slag’ (Excavations 1997, No. 297, 97E0198). Testing by Martin Reid on the line of the city walls at Garden Row, some 100m north-west of the proposed development site, uncovered no medieval materials (Excavations 1997, No. 298, 96E0385). Several post-medieval features, including one side of a north–south-oriented ditch, rubbish pits and a brick-lined cesspit, were uncovered.

Testing took place on 1 and 2 February 2003 and uncovered the remains of two walls, a cobbled yard and a series of dumped fills. Precise dating of the walls was not possible, due to the absence of associated diagnostic artefacts. The walls and yard are not marked on the Rocque map of 1758, nor on the 1841 first-edition OS map of Kilkenny. Thus both were either constructed and demolished between 1758 and the early 19th century or they pre-date c. 1758. Given the size of the wall footings, it seems unlikely that such a large building in such a prominent site within the city would have been built and subsequently demolished within a 40–50-year time span. A clay-pipe stem from the fill of the cut for the east–west wall provided a terminus post quem for the wall construction in the 17th century. Thus, a 17th–mid-18th-century date appears more likely.

Bradley, J. 2000 Irish historic towns atlas No. 10: Kilkenny. Dublin.

17 Staunton Row, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary