Fethard Historical Society held their Annual General Meeting on the 27th March 2007 and the following committee was elected: Dóirín Saurus (Chairperson), Mary Hanrahan (Vice-Chairperson), Margaret Newport (Secretary), Peter Delaney (Assistant Secretary), Catherine O’Flynn (Treasurer), Tim Robinson (Planning Officer), Terry Cunningham (Public Relations Officer). Committee members: Kitty Delany, Marie O’Donnell, Ann Lynch, Frances Murphy, Mary McCormack and Pat Looby.
This year, 2007, was a very good year for the Historical Society. We believe we have ‘turned the corner’ in terms of finally getting official recognition for the uniqueness of the walled town of Fethard - the best in Ireland apart from the walled city of Derry. There is now a very good working relationship between the Society and all the interested government agencies, especially South Tipperary County Council, the Heritage Council and Failte Ireland. In particular, The Irish Walled Network, which is funded by the Heritage Council and covers all of Ireland, has been the main force in convincing the ‘powers that be’ that Fethard is a very special and unusual place.
Grants for the Wall and Town
This year, nearly €200,000 has been agreed with the above agencies for both practical repair-work on the town wall and for three major reports that will issue early in 2008. One report will deal exclusively with the wall itself. It will come up with a detailed conservation plan for the full circle of the wall and the areas close to the wall.
The second report is known as a public realm plan, and this could prove to be the most important document written about Fethard in recent times. It will deal with Fethard as a living place – where people walk, play, work, park, shop, socialise etc., and this should be a great help in planning developments in the town for the next twenty years.
The third report will deal with the Town Hall and will try to come up with a plan to save the building and to suggest a real sustainable working use for the most central building in the town.
Preparing the groundwork for these reports has taken up most of the time and efforts of the Historical Society during 2007 but hopefully it will all be worthwhile when all the reports feed into the next development plan for the town that will be drawn up by the County Council.
The highlight of the year was ‘The Walled Towns Day’ festival that took place in The Valley area on Sunday 26th August 2007. The Heritage Council, County Council, County Museum, Failte Ireland, local clubs and individuals all supported the Historical Society in staging a wonderful Medieval Event on what was the finest and hottest day of the summer.
Congratulations must also go to Laurence Kenny who came second in the National Walled Towns Photo Competition and his picture will now be made into a postcard by the Heritage Council and circulated nationally.
Normal business did continue also for the society with lectures and a very enjoyable summer trip, with local artist Pat Looby, to visit the high crosses of the South East of Ireland.
Members of the committee also joined Tim Robinson, resident in medieval Watergate, on an investigative trip to South West France to see their walled towns which are called ‘Bastides’. These towns were founded and walled at the same time and by the same English/Norman kings who were carrying out similar ‘plantations’ in their other ‘lands’ here in Fethard and other parts of Ireland in the 12th and 13th centuries. A ‘twinning’ arrangement may result with one of these small French towns in the future when more research and consultation has been carried out.
The usual Tipperariana ‘Book of the Year’ presentation and the Book Fair (on the second Sunday of February) all went off very well and are set to continue into the future.
In 2008 it is planned to publish a book on Heraldry in Fethard, by Gerard Crotty, and finances are in place to do this. Also the long awaited History of Fethard may come out late next year and ideas to finance this major undertaking are now becoming a priority for the society.
We wish all Fethard and Killusty people a happy Christmastime and more of the same for all of 2008. The society can be contacted, supported, or joined by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to: The Secretary, Fethard Historical Society, Fethard, Co. Tipperary.