2020:011 - Sean Mac Diarmada Street, Manorhamilton, Leitrim

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Leitrim Site name: Sean Mac Diarmada Street, Manorhamilton

Sites and Monuments Record No.: LE011-109 Licence number: 19E0608

Author: Tamlyn McHugh, Fadó Archaeology

Site type: Urban post-medieval

ITM: E 588433m, N 839584m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.304879, -8.177724

Monitoring was carried out at Sean Mac Diarmada Street, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim on behalf of Leitrim County Council, Aras An Chontae, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim.
The proposed development works entailed the construction of a car park to the rear and side of the former Priest’s House in Manorhamilton, with access/exit from the N16 Sligo Road and Sean Mac Diarmada Street. The car park will consist of 25 car parking spaces. Concrete footpaths and defined pedestrian crossings will be included throughout. The development is within the Zone of Archaeological Notification for LE011-109, the Historic Town. Protected structure No. 30805005 Courthouse (former Bridewell) is adjacent to the site, to the north-west of the development area.
Monitoring of topsoil removal and groundworks was undertaken on the 9-11, 14-15 October 2019 and 11 February 2020. The topsoil cover varied in depth across the site from 0.3m to 0.5m and consisted of a dark brown clayey silt with moderate inclusions of modern items such as glass bottles and crockery which had been dumped in the garden. A deposit of charcoal, ash and brick fragments was noted in the north-eastern area of the site. Flat stones were noted in association with this deposit. Overall, the area measured 2.65m (east-west) by 1.7m. It is likely that this may be the remains of a former building that are present on the Ordnance Survey Maps in the vicinity of Castle Street.
At the western end of the garden an earthen tree-lined ditch divided the garden from the single-track tarred road which provides access to the staff car park for the Intreo building, a residential dwelling and the rear yard of the Courthouse. During monitoring of the removal of this ditch a large amount of building debris was uncovered comprising metal pipes, slates, brick and modern rubbish. Curiously amongst the debris was a vertebra of a whale. The bone has several metal corroded metal nails on the surface which suggested that it was displayed or formed part of a composite arrangement of bones. The nails also suggested that it may have been used as part of a building as building material.
The origin of the whale bone is unclear, local knowledge suggests that the waste building material was deposited in this area during a water scheme in the town that had been undertaken a few years previously. The whale bone may have been found elsewhere in the town and dumped at this location. It is also possible that it formed part of a garden arch as was the fashion in Victorian times. Whale bone has been found in church buildings where it was used as building material due to its durable nature. An example of this is in Easkey Abbey in Co. Sligo where a whale bone forms the lintel in the eastern gable window.
Below the western boundary of the site a stone-lined culvert was discovered. The culvert was orientated north-west to south-east and measured 0.45m deep, 0.8m wide and 8m in length. It comprised of flat sub-rectangular stones which were used to construct all sides of the culvert. It is likely that the culvert extends from Sean Mac Diarmada Street through the rear yard of the Courthouse where it drains into the Owenbeg River. This culvert was left in situ and undisturbed during the construction of the carpark.
A large trench to accommodate a drain from the carpark to the Owenbeg River was excavated in the yard to the rear of the Courthouse (former Bridewell). The drain was mechanically excavated north-west to south-east across the former yard. The yard had been in use during more recent times as a County Council machinery and storage yard. During the mechanical excavation of the drain the former mechanics' pit used by the County Council was uncovered. A cast iron water pipe was uncovered close to the mechanic pit, along with the stone culvert that had previously been uncovered at the western end of the garden.
Further monitoring of groundworks took place at the proposed entrance to the carpark along Sean Mac Diarmada Street. Approximately 0.8m of material was removed in this area to reduce the level of the entrance which will allow the access road to gently slope into the carpark. Several large trees were present in this area and the root systems were extensive.

17 Cooldrumman Upper, Carney, Co. Sligo