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Near the Bend in the River - Eachtra speech 22/1/09

This entry is part 21 of 34 in the Issue [1] 01

Title: N25 Kilmac book launch speech

Author: John Tierney, Jacinta Kiely, Penny Johnston

Date: 22.1.09

Version: 1

Status: Final

Circulation: Web


1 Introduction

County mayor, Town mayor, Prof Woodman, officers of the county council, the NRA and esteemed guests I would like to say a few words on behalf of Eachtra and my fellow authors

2 Thanks

For a project which spanned a decade there are a lot of people who deserve thanks and like any good archaeologist I’ll try and take this chronologically and stratigraphically. Firstly Oliver Tierney of Waterford county council who in association with PJ Kindregan were involved in the project from the very earliest days. Officers of the French construction company BEC –Olivier Prugnenec was their liaison and he was a great assistance at the weekly progress meetings held during the construction of the road – the French road crew nicknamed us ‘les Taupes’ or the moles because everywhere we went we left a pile of soil behind.

From the initial field survey I would like to thank Brian Foley of Kilmacthomas who introduced us to the archaeology of the area and pointed out areas of potential including Graigueshoneen which turned out to have some very interesting sites.

During the excavation the main people I want to thank are the licensees, Stuart Elder, Dave Pollock, Daniel Noonan and Michael Tierney and especially the senior supervisor Aine Richardson. The rest of the team are too numerous to name now but the local people who deserve thanks are; all of the landowners, Tony Kirwan plant hire, and also Aurelia Foley and Martina Fahey, as well as local diggers Maurice Fitzgerald and Carol Power.

During the excavation we also received help from Duchas, then the state heritage body, directly from Barry O’Reilly at the start of the project and Brian Duffy as the fieldwork came to an end.

The nuts and bolts of the Eachtra operation were overseen by Choryna Kiely and Rita Gould.

In the later stages of the postex works we need to thank Antonia Doolan, Bernice Kelly, John Sunderland, Dr Marion Dowd, and Robin Turk. And also specialists such as Abigail Brewer, Mary Dillon and Farina Sternke

James Eogan of the NRA became involved in the project in a meaningful way from approx 2004 and in that time his attention to detail but also his eye to the big picture have been a great and constructive help. As the final reports and the book took form Jacinta, Penny and James proved an effective team and with the final addition of Madeline Duggan as academic editor we pushed on in the production of a book which was written and designed primarily to be read by members of the public rather than specifically for other archaeologists or academics.

When we thought the book was finished I believe Jerry O’Sullivan and Michael Stanley of the NRA both reviewed the manuscript and welcome suggestions were made which we acted upon under the stewardship of James Eogan and of Nick Maxwell of Wordwell Press.

Speaking personally, I am delighted with the production of this book and proud to have been involved in this project especially as it has immersed me in the archaeology of my own adoptive county. While I now live in Co Waterford, coauthor Jacinta Kiely has deep roots in the county being of the Kielys of Lickey Beg in the Drum Hills.

3 Place

The project immersed us in the archaeology of Kilmacthomas and mid Waterford but particularly in the hill of Currabaha, located in the bend in the River Mahon which served as a focus of settlement for thousands of years.

The project also prepared us for the archaeology we were about to encounter throughout the rest of the country in the following decade.

I remember early discussions with Dan Noonan as we excavated the fulachta fiadh in Ahanaglogh; we would only agree then that the sites were used for boiling water but now I think we’d make the case for many of them being slaughter and butchery sites, running red with blood, key sites in the subsistence economy of the BA in Ireland.

Dave Pollock opened our eyes to post medieval trackways and field systems –we have since encountered similar field systems in Westmeath, North Cork and North Tipperary.

Michael Tierney excavated the mutiperiod site at Cooltubrid East and - in that teams interpretation of the presence of a thorn hedge enclosure without a bank or ditch around the settlement - pointed us in a interpretively similar direction for a series of sites we excavated near Toomevara this time last year.

Stuart Elder and Michael were also the first team to run the centreline test excavation methodology which was subsequently adopted by the NRA for all road schemes throughout Ireland. This methodology was first developed in a meeting between an engineer from Bec, Oliver Tierney for Waterford Co Co and myself. This meeting resulted in a method of testing which was appropriate to the scale of the linear infrastructural projects then being planned and it also resulted in more scientific data collection and analysis – it has resulted in a series of belt transects across the Irish landscape which is crying out for statistical analysis.

4 Conclusion

In conclusion, the archaeology of Waterford has changed considerably in the last 20 years. Projects such as the Waterford City Excavations, the Ballylough project, the Waterford outer ring road, the city bypass, and excavations associated with housing developments throughout the county, have uncovered vast amounts of archaeological remains and the challenge we face in the next decade is how best to mine that data and to present it to the public.

Finally, thanks to Bernice and James for arranging this book launch, to Prof Woodman for launching the book and to Waterford CoCo heritage officer Bernadette Guest & County Librarian Donal Brady for hosting the event.


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