Thursday 25th Augest 2011

Medieval Festival reached new heights 
Fethard Town Wall Medieval Festival reached new heights as thousands came to celebrate the event over run in Fethard over last weekend. An estimated three thousand people from all parts of Ireland and further afield, attended the medieval festivities by Fethard’s old Town Wall on Sunday 21st August, facilitated immensely by splendid weather.

The Festival kicked off on Friday night with a truly unique concert, ‘Echoes of a Gaelic Chieften’s Court’, in Holy Trinity Church, where over 180 people enjoyed a sample of the world’s best exponents of 16th to 18th century Gaelic harp, vocal and piping, led by Siobhán Armstrong, chair of Historical Harp Society of Ireland. The setting of the picturesque candle lit medieval church undoubtedly enhanced the delightful performances from all the individual artists. This concert was promoted by Fethard Historical Society and was an outstanding success.

Sunday’s parade was simple superb with increased costume participation from young and old. The very colourful parade participants, led by the Moycarkey Pipe Band, made its way to the Town Wall via Main Street to loud applause from spectators as they passed. The children’s medieval hats on display were particularly outstanding.

The Valley looked immaculate again where all the work of the Tidy Towns, County Council staff and locals was a joy to behold.  The great flags fluttering in the wind made a pretty picture overlooking the Town Wall decorated with colourful family shields and bunting.
The afternoons entertainment provided by the Fayreweather Band from Waterford, medieval re-enactors, children's activity tents, craft stalls, fun and games, archery, dog show, bird displays, food stalls, exhibitions, music was continuously enjoyed by huge crowds of all ages, making it our most successful festival to date.

A photographic exhibition was also held at Barrack Street over the weekend showing various photographs of Fethard and Irish landscapes taken by Larry Kenny and Colin Kenny.

We take this opportunity to thank the local Gardaí for their assistance over the weekend, the Civil Defence for their voluntary help and attendance at the Festival; Fethard Ballroom for their use of tables and chairs; Fethard Scouts for their tents; Rev. Barbara Fryday and her many helpers for their wonderful co-operation and support over the weekend’s events; to Liam Daly, Barry Purcell, Jimmy O’Shea, Pat Carroll, Jimmy O’Sullivan for their help in providing essential facilities; to Primus Advertising and Clara Phelan for poster design; to Killusty Pony Show and Pat Culligan who organised our second hugely successful Dog Show; to all the local organisations that participated and helped on the day including our very wet young volunteers who took part in this year’s ‘Dunk Tank’. We also thank Jimmy O’Brien, Meat on the Square, who sponsored all the prizes for this year’s Fancy Dress Parade, and all our local sponsors of prizes for the dog show and festival raffle.

Our thanks also to the Heritage Council and South Tipperary County Council who helped part-fund the event with the local Medieval Festival Committee comprising of members of Fethard Historical Society and Fethard & Killusty Community Council.

Fancy Dress Parade Results
Best Group, 1st Michael Tillyer Group; 2nd Conor and Courtney Walsh.

Best Child, 1st David Moclair; 2nd Lucy White.

Best Adult, 1st Willie O’Meara; 2nd Stephanie Stokes.

Prizes for the Fancy Dress Parade were sponsored by ‘Meat at the Square’ Butcher Shop, The Square, Fethard.

Festival Raffle Results
1st Prize, a meal for two at McCarthy’s, was won by David Curran, Country Markets; 2nd Prize, meal voucher for Oriental Gardens Restaurant, Mary Healy, The Green; 3rd Prize, Gift Hamper from O’Sullivan’s Chemist, Alex O’Donovan, Garrinch; 4th Prize, photographic print by Larry Kenny, Marianne Shortall; 5th Prize, a wooden cheese platter by Johnny Sheehan, Ann Marie O’Sullivan; 6th Prize, Voucher for Mandy’s Hair Salon, Peg Gleeson; 7th Prize, Voucher for Town & County, James Laffey; 8th Prize, voucher for Mimosa Hair Salon, Rachel O’Loughlin; 9th Prize, Two bottles wine from Butler’s Bar, Greta O’Dwyer, Redcity; 10th Prize, potted plant from Country Life, Colin Kenny. Contact Marie Murphy Tel: 087 7928758 to arrange collection of prizes.

Festival Dog Show Results
Best Large Dog, 1st Jessica Caron with ‘Rya’; 2nd Chelsea Kenny with ‘Daisy’; and 3rd Martina Hannigan with ‘Misty’.

Best Small Dog, 1st Maureen Hayes with ‘Lola’; 2nd Leah Coen with ‘Ria’; and 3rd Thomas O’Reilly with ‘Ruby’.

Dog Most Likely to Take Home, 1st Laura Condon with ‘Pippa’; 2nd Joseph Gaule with ‘Elvis’; and 3rd Amy Roche with ‘Beckie’.

Best Dog in Medieval Attire, 1st Diana Stoke with ‘Elvis’; 2nd Jessica Maher with ‘Daisy’; and Michel Moloney with ‘Daisy’.

Best Groomed Dog, 1st Zoe Stokes with Duncan’; 2nd Chelsea Kenny with ‘Daisy’; and 3rd Martina O’Gorman with ‘Becky’.

Best in Show, 1st Zoe Stokes with ‘Duncan’; 2nd Laura Condon with ‘Pippa’; and 3rd Chelsea Kenny with ‘Daisy’.

Prizes for the Dog Show were sponsored by Killusty Pony Show and Ian Meagher’s ‘Daybreak’ Grocery Store, Kerry Street.


Nationally important fifteenth century roof identified in Fethard 
On Saturday, 20th August, David Brown of the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, Queen’s University, Belfast, presented the results of his sampling and laboratory analysis of the oak timbers of the roof of Holy Trinity Church (C of I), Fethard. This impressive church, which dominates the walled town of Fethard was built in the early thirteenth century but presents largely as a mid-nineteenth century remodelling.  However, concealed beneath the modern Baltic pine roof of circa 1800 and above the plastered Victorian barrel-vault of the nave is an ancient arch-braced, clasped purlin oak roof some 80 feet long. Painstaking analysis of the tree rings of this roof have revealed a felling date range of 1489 (plus or minus 9 years) making this roof the only medieval roof in Ireland that has been accurately dated.

In June 2011, under licence from the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the National Museum, ten samples were taken from rafters, collars and arch-braces of the roof.  Initial analysis suggested that a chronology would not be found due to the paucity of annual rings present in the wood. Fortunately all the samples returned a very close match in growth pattern which enabled the team in Belfast to assemble a chronology of 77 years for the batch. This chronology was then compared with the master chronology held at Queen’s which showed that the oak samples were growing between 1384 and 1460.  In the absence of bark and although much of the sapwood was missing the team were able to come to a firm conclusion as to the felling dates of the roof members as a group. Timber frames of this kind were erected ‘green’ for ease of assembly (before the wood hardened and became difficult to work) and so the assembly and raising would have taken place almost immediately after the felling date.  Brown estimates that the trees used in Fethard were immature at the time of felling (perhaps less than 100 years old) and that they derive from the first regeneration of oak trees planted after the Black Death of 1348.

Architect Margaret Quinlan is credited with the discovery of this exceptional roof which can only be accessed through a small hatch leading from the belfry into the roof cavity. Oak-framing practitioner, Paul Price, has provided a report on the structure and has identified ‘see-sawing’ marks on one of the collars indicating that the wood was converted (from tree to beam) using a long lost medieval technique.  This would appear to be the first time that see-sawing has been identified in Ireland. 

Today, the building is slated, but large numbers of red stone-slates found at the site suggest that this local stone was the original cladding. A murage grant (for repairing and improving the walls and fortifications) ran in Fethard from 1468 to 1480 after the town was burned by Garret Fitzgerald, brother of the Earl of Desmond, and it seems likely that the church’s belfry, late fifteenth century windows and this exceptional roof were put in place consequent to this calamity. 

The analysis was commissioned by the Fethard Historical Society and part-funded by South Tipperary County Council. David Brown describes the find as ‘a truly spectacular result for an Irish roof and for dendrochronology.’


Fethard Historic Town Trail Launched
The official launch of Fethard’s Historical Town Trail signage took place, most appropriately, in the grounds of the 13th century Holy Trinity Church, the heart of the medieval town, on Saturday, August 20. Terry Cunningham, PRO Fethard Historical Society, welcomed all present and explained that the signage, comprising information boards, finger posts and plaques, had been funded by Failte Ireland and the project had been facilitated by South Tipperary County Council. Terry further explained that the Fethard Historical Society were responsible for providing the historical content of the signage, which is displayed in both English and Irish. He thanked all those who had volunteered their services in this regard and he also expressed the Society’s gratitude to local archaeologist Barry O’Reilly for his assistance. An t-Uasal Liam O Duibhir, Cluain Meala, came to the rescue when the original Irish translation proved unsatisfactory and he, too, was thanked for his invaluable help.
Cllr Liam Ahearne, Chairman South Tipperary County Council, stated that the council were delighted to be involved in such a worthwhile project in Fethard where one is ‘surrounded by history’. He thanked his colleague, Ms Eileen Horgan, Community and Enterprise Development, for her commitment to the undertaking and for ensuring that it came to completion. Michael stressed the importance of recognising the potential of places such as Fethard in terms of tourism and heritage. Gary Breen, Manager of Fáilte Ireland South East, reiterated that point alluding to the fact that their research has shown that visitors to Ireland come mainly seeking a heritage and cultural experience. As a result, Failte Ireland has provided substantial funding to towns like Fethard to enable them to further improve the experience they offer tourists. He pointed out that places like Fethard that are ‘off the beaten track’ are proving increasingly popular with foreign visitors.

This year, there has been a significant increase to date in the number of tourists coming to Ireland from Europe and the USA. However, the number of visitors from Britain remains low but Gary is confident that it will be possible to market Ireland as an attractive destination ‘to our cousins across the water’.

South Tipperary is blessed with a wealth of historical attractions and Fethard is now well placed to fulfil its potential as a tourist destination. In conclusion, Colm McGrath, Chairman, Fethard Historical Society, once again thanked all involved in bringing the project to a successful conclusion stating that the new signage was a most welcome means of highlighting the many historic features of the town. Colm hinted that the society’s next project might be a brochure to supplement the new town trail signage, should funding be available for same!

The official launch of the signage was followed by a walk of the Medieval Town Trail led by Terry Cunningham and Colm McGrath. The walk focussed on the information displayed on the signage and time constraints meant that our guides could only give a brief overview of the history of Fethard. As Colm said, people interested in history come asking questions such as why? when? where?  Some questions are easily answered, others are the subject of much debate and on-going historical research means we often have to look anew at previously accepted ‘facts’. All this merely adds to the fascination of all things relating to Fethard and Colm expressed the hope that those interested in the town’s history would come back again to avail of the guided tours now available in town.

About eighty people came along to follow the route around by Watergate and the Sheela na gig, down to the Augustinian Abbey, back along the river to walk beside the Town Wall, over Madam’s bridge to the Pop-Up Cafe in the Youth Centre where refreshments, sponsored by the County Council, were provided for everyone. Harpist Anja Bakker provided a musical accompaniment and a video of last year’s Medieval Festival was screened to give a flavour of Fethard en fete.

Youth Film Premier on this Thursday
Fethard Youth Centre will host the film premier of ‘One by One’ on this Thursday night, August 25, at 8pm. ‘One by One’ is a film collaboration between a group of young people and Will Nugent in partnership with Fethard Youth Club and TRYS (Tipperary Regional Youth Service). This modern day horror was devised by the group as a means of expressing many of the issues facing teenagers in modern day Ireland. 'One by One' . . . don't mess with Rabekka!
All are invited to this event and admission is free.

Draíocht concert for Abymill
Fethard’s Abymill Theatre will host a wonderful evening of enchanting music, song and dance, ‘Draíocht’, directed and choreographed by Michael Ryan, on Saturday, August 27, at 8.30p.
Experience the lyrical magic of traditional song, succumb to the mysterious melodies and wonder at the intricacies of the dance . . . at this show you can leave your cares behind as you enter the mystical experience of ‘Draíocht’.  Booking now at O’Flynn’s Menswear, Burke Street, Fethard. Tel: 087 1604260 or (052) 6131254.

Fethard & Killusty Community Lotto
The numbers drawn on August 17, were: 10, 14, 16 and 19. We had no Jackpot winner and one ‘Match Three’ winner of €150: Esther Breen, Barrack St., Fethard.

The three following ‘Lucky Dip’ winners also won €50 each: Anna Bradshaw Cooke, St. Patrick's Place, Fethard; John Hunt, Lisronagh, Clonmel; and Breda Burke, Main Street, Fethard.

Remember you can purchase your lotto ticket online at www.fethard.com. Buy seven weekly tickets and get one free! Check on the website for lots of special offers. Next week’s Jackpot commences at €4,550 and the Jackpot sellers prize is €455. All proceeds go towards community work in Fethard.



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