2010:549 - Crotty’s Church, Castle Street, Birr, Offaly

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Offaly Site name: Crotty’s Church, Castle Street, Birr

Sites and Monuments Record No.: OF035–012 Licence number: 10E0081

Author: Eoin Sullivan, Gort Archaeology, Tullamore, Co. Offaly.

Site type: Urban, post-medieval

ITM: E 605807m, N 704538m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 53.091404, -7.913299

A pre-development test excavation was undertaken on 3 March 2010 to the rear of Crotty’s Church, Castle Street, Birr, Co. Offaly. The site of the proposed development is located within the south-west portion of the zone of archaeological potential for the town of Birr, west of Bridge Street. The site was located between two existing apartment unit blocks and bounded to the west by the Camcor River. The proposed development consisted of the construction of three three-storey terraced townhouses.

A portion of the town defences built of roughly coursed masonry is retained in a wall running obtusely from the south-east end of Brendan Street towards Manor Saw Mill. The southern line of the town defences may be retained at the south side of Mill Lane. West of the bridge there was a stretch of wall terminating in a small bastion. The wall and bastion were located within close proximity of the site of the proposed development. ‘The Maltings’ are associated with the Robinson distillery of the 1820s. The distillery was one of three prominent distilleries within Birr, and was subsequently altered to a brewery in 1855. The first-edition OS map of 1836 shows a large L-shaped building parallel with the bank of the Camcor River. There is a return to the east at the northern end of the building. The subsequent second-edition map shows the existence of the same building, but with several additional smaller associated buildings to the north and east. These buildings are located within the footprint of the proposed development. Many of the buildings associated with the brewery located along the banks of Camcor River to the west of the bridge at Bridge Street were demolished in the early 1990s.

The site was assessed on the basis of three linear test-trenches oriented perpendicular to the Camcor River. Trench 3 (the most northern) exposed the external northern wall of a substantial building as shown on the OS maps, which was demolished in the 1990s. The testing revealed that the site profile consisted of disturbed ground (between 1.2m and 1.6m depth below present ground surface) overlying organic riverine material that in turn overlay natural riverine cobbles. The test excavation revealed that there was no surviving evidence of any features of soils associated with the town defences within the footprint of the proposed development.