Camden Fort Meagher

Dr Elena Turk of Bluebrick Heritage is currently the primary archaeological consultant in the project (led by Crosshaven Community Group and Cork County Council) to restore Camden Fort Meagher, Crosshaven, County Cork. This work has involved the preparation of Ministerial Consent applications, conducting extensive archaeological monitoring and limited excavation on site, and the creation of detailed building records for numerous structures. The company are currently working in partnership with Rubicon Heritage to audit artifact storage on site.

Fortifications on the site date to 1550, and Phillips’s map (1685) depicts a small shoreline blockhouse/battery here. Goubet’s map (1690) shows two lines of walls or revetments apparently pierced by gun embrasures along the shoreline, and square bastioned fort in the approximate location of the present site. These are believed to have constituted ‘James’s Battery’, a fort erected by the forces of James II, which engaged the Williamite navy in 1690. The fort as it is known today was established in 1798, as part of fortifications erected at the start of the Napoleonic War (1799 – 1815). At this time the naval establishment at Kinsale was transferred to Haubowline Island in Cork harbour, Fort Camden was remodelled and numerous other defences were installed around the Cork coastline. The fort derives its name from the Earl of Camden, who was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1795. It was clearly an important site at the turn of the 1800s, but, by 1837, Lewis notes that Camden Fort ‘had but a token force of a master-gunner and five men’. (Power et al 1994). The Irish Architectural Archives record that n 1856 an unnamed architect designed cells for both Camden and Carlisle forts. The 25th Report of the Board of Public Works, Ireland (1856) notes ‘Iron prisons erected at Camden and Carlisle Forts to contain 300 convicts employed on improvements. Cost £1873.2s.11d.’ (see http://www.dia.ie). These prisoners, transferred temporarily from the prison on Spike Island, seem to have been engaged in the construction of improvements to the fort. The Armagh Guardian advertised, on 15th November 1861, for tenders for the design and construction of new defence works, including bomb-proofing of the barracks at Camden. The fort continued to be repaired, changed and improved throughout the 1800s. In the 1880s the breech loading rifled gun was introduced, a minefield was laid across the channel between Camden and Carlisle, covered by batteries of quick firing 6lbs guns. The fort was also fitted with a Brennan Torpedo between 1890 and 1900.  During the First World War, Cork harbour was used as a naval base to cover the western approaches. An anti-submarine net was constructed across the narrow channel. When the Irish Free State was established in 1922, a clause in the Anglo-Irish Treaty left the harbour defences at Cork, Berehaven and Lough Swilly in the control of British government. These ports became known as the Treaty Ports. The harbour defences at Cork were eventually taken over by the Irish authorities on 11 July 1938 when de Valera, his son and the Irish Military chiefs were present to take part in a handover ceremony. Fort Camden was renamed Fort Meagher in honour of Thomas Francis Meagher. In 1989 Cork County Council acquired ownership of the fort.

 

Bandon Timber Framed House

Number 83 North Main Street Bandon was initially identified as a possible seventeenth century house in 2014. The significance of the building was confirmed after visits by the County Archaeologist, Mary Sleeman, and representatives from the national monuments department and a visit by the county conservation officer Mona Hallinan. Upon recognition of the significance of the site, the owner entered talks with a local heritage committee who hope restore the house as a heritage attraction. The Heritage Council gave the community group, Friends of the Timber Framed House, a small grant and Bluebrick Heritage were engaged to prepare a preliminary conservation assessment for the building.

Bandon town owes its origins to the late 16th century Elizabethan Plantation of Munster. Although several towns in County Cork were established as part of the official plantation of 1586, Bandon was built as a private risk venture by Newce and Shipward. The earliest map of the town  with wall, drawn by Christopher Jefford around 1613, shows a compact rectangular plan town with a clearly defined grid layout, Market House, walls (although not in their entirety) and the bridge over the Bandon. The map was drawn as part of the contracts between Newce and Richard Boyle who was buying the settlement. By 1622 it was reported by commissioners surveying the Munster Plantation that “a tenth or eleventh part of the wall was brought to its full height”. However, maps from 1630 show almost no evidence of the grid-plan town and it is likely that the earlier map reflected idealised plans rather than the reality of the settlement. By the 1630s, the only street that was built was North Street, today North Main Street and KilIbrogan Hill. The houses were neatly arranged in rows, most are shown as gable fronted, two story with large windows, slate roofs and large chimneystacks. These buildings are considered more solid and larger than those shown on contemporary illustrations of houses in the Ulster plantation. Certainly after 1614  Boyle had included instructions in his lease agreements which stipulated slate roofs with stone chimneys and walls. Nevertheless, a number of accounts of fires have been taken to suggest that timber framed houses remained the norm. The house at number 83 appears to have been one of these buildings. Internally there is extensive survival of walls built with massive timber uprights and cross beams. These timbers all show marks of being hand trimmed with an axe and/or adz and were pegged together using simple wooden dowels. Several samples of timbers were taken to be dendro-chronologically dated (dated by studying tree rings), and the results of these tests are excitedly awaited in Bandon.

 

Ballintlea brick

The owners of Ballintlea mills in County Clare asked Bluebrick Heritage to compile a report on 17th century Dutch brick within the building to use as part of a grant application which would pay for the restoration of the site.

There is believed to be a mill on the site since at least the mid-seventeenth century as a millwheel symbol is shown in the area on the Down Survey barony map of Bunratty dated 1658-59. In the mid 1600s an agreement was made between Lord Inchiquin, Thomas Greene and John Cooper for the making of oil at Sixmilebridge. Cooper has been linked to Ballintlea as a result of a 1657 agreement for the conveyance of 351 acres of land. By 1659-60 Cooper had engaged Captain Christopher Peterson of Limerick to build ‘a duble oyle mill’ near Sixmilebridge (Hurley 2014; MS 45,658/3 Inchiquin Papers, NLI). Hurley (2014) notes two references to the ‘Oyl Mills’ near Sixmilebridge in the 1681 Journal of Thomas Dineley, both of which refer to ‘the Wood of the Oyl Mills’ in terms of marking a geographical location suggesting that the mills were established enough to become part of placenames locally.  In 1696 George Pease, a Dutch entrepreneur, was given the lease for the oil mills. He rebuilt them ‘in the Dutch style’. The present structure is believed to be the result of this rebuilding. Dutch brick, which is typically much longer and narrower than modern brick, was imported into Ireland as ballast in ships from the later 1600s, at time when the majority of buildings were constructed of stone. Brick buildings of this early date are rare in the south of the country but a few beautiful examples do survive (for example Red House in Youghal, County Cork). This makes the Dutch brick at Ballintela all the more significant.