Medieval Tour of Galway - De Burgo Castle Site

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Archaeologists discovered what is believed to be part of the oldest-known stone building in Galway city, dating from the early 13th Century. The find came as part of a survey during construction work at a site on Quay Street. It is believed that the two metre thick stone walls formed part of Dún na Gaillimhe, a castle built by the De Burgo family in 1232. The fortification was built along what was then the shoreline of the river Corrib. It was preceded by a wooden stronghold on the same site, which is mentioned in the annals of 1124. It is thought that the building was the starting point for the development of what became Galway city in the centuries that followed. The recently published Historic Towns Atlas of Galway states that the structure had a "major bearing" on the development of the settlement. It would have provided for easy access to the river as well as serving as a strategic defence and a residence for the De Burgos. Records show that Richard de Burgo's son Walter died in the building in 1271 but the last record of the castle was in 1280. Historians believe that it was demolished around that time and that materials from the building were used in the construction of the Hall of the Red Earl, a short distance away. Until this discovery, the hall of the Red Earl was the oldest discovered structure in the city. Despite the fact that the castle stood for just under 50 years, archaeologists working at the site say they have found a range of material that will help their research. There is extensive evidence of burning at the site, with charcoal like deposits extending over a considerable area. In addition, animal bones, sharpening tools and roof tiles have also been uncovered. These will all be subject to carbon dating tests. Lead archaeologist at the site Frank Coyne said the discovery is of considerable significance as it provides the first trace of the earliest-known stone fortification built by the Anglo-Normans in Galway. Two adjoining sections of the wall have been uncovered, a little under half a metre below ground level. Galway City Heritage Officer Jim Higgins said the construction was typical of the time and has described the find as fantastic news for the city. The Aran Sweater Market is now open on the site. "The completion of the Aran Sweater Market project marks an important social, cultural and economic development for the famous Medieval Quarter of Galway. The central and most important component of this project was the design and construction of a two-storey independent frame structure imperative for the retention of the Quay St and Quay Lane facades. The extensive new build also had to ensure the independent element did not impact on the significant conservation considerations. The structural cluster consisted of five original properties; number 25 Quay St with a Cruck Style timber Oak Roof structure and numbers 2 to 5 on Quay Lane with a King Post timber roof structure. The new independent frame structure supports two new roofs, a new first floor and a new internal staircase with walled sections of Galway’s earliest 13th century De Burgo Stone Castle retained and featured within. Taking an innovative design approach, the engineers were able to ensure the possible future reversibility of all new adopted structures and new build elements." ACEI (Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland)