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1.0 Introduction

Conservation Areas are designated in order to protect and enhance those parts of our towns and villages which have special character or historic interest.

Conservation seeks to promote an understanding of that character and ensure its continuity by encouraging sensitive development without necessarily replicating the past.

Much of Fethard’s medieval fabric was destroyed in the 19th century. While changes to the fabric of Fethard have been gradual since then, damage to the historic and architectural heritage continues to take place. Without a conservation policy and the exercise of restraint in the design of new buildings and alterations to the old, the character of Fethard may be eroded and lost to future generations.

The purpose of this statement is to;

2.0 Character and Historic Development

Fethard, as a town, dates back to Anglo-Norman times. The town takes its name from the Fiodh Ard (high wood) which would seem to suggest earlier Gaelic Irish Settlement. Fethard did not evolve slowly like many Irish towns but was laid out systematically with a clearly defined market area, church and graveyard, and a regular pattern of streets.

The oldest structures in the town are the Holy Trinity Church (13th century Nave and Chancel), the Augustinian Church (14th century and modified in 15th century) and the town wall and the town wall (15th and 16th century with some parts dating from 13-14th century).

The location of Fethard has been credited to William de Broase, a Norman lord, who had been installed by King John in 1201. In 1215 the Crown granted the lands of Fethard to the archbishops of Cashel where it remained until the 16th century.

The first record of the walling of the town was in 1292, but the present walled town is largely of 15th century in origin. In the 15th century the town was renewed under the Everard family were a prominent and prosperous Catholic family.

In 1647 and 1650 Lord Inchiquin and Oliver Cromwell marched on Fethard. The town survived the attacks but was to enter the 18th century in a state of decay. In 1752 the Old Everard properties were sold to a Mr Barton, a wine merchant from Bordeaux, and he replaced the Everard mansion with a new house, which in turn became the military barracks early in the 1800s. The present Catholic Church was built on a site owned by the Barton family in 1818-19.

During the 19th century much of the medieval fabric of the town was destroyed.

3.0 Area of Archaeological Potential

Archaeological remains are a finite and non-renewable resource. It is Government advice that appropriate management is essential to ensure that they survive, and the planning system plays a vital role in this respect.

The following documents have been used to identify sites worthy of preservation and designate an area of archaeological potential within the town:

Development, which impacts on these sites or involves excavation in the area of archaeological potential, will be referred to Duchas - The Heritage Service and/or other relevant bodies.

4.0 Conservation Area

The Fethard Conservation Area derives its strength and character from a number of elements, notably:

the Church - William de Braose (1290s); Archbishop of Cashel - 1215:

the Augustinians - 14th C.;

the Earls of Ormond (1400s);

the Everard Family (15 - 17th C.);

Oliver Cromwell (17th C.); and

the Military Barracks (19th C.).

The Conservation Area has, therefore, an historic character and quality, which warrants protection. The Council does recognise, however, that its buildings, frontages and unique town wall and central square need to be improved and enhanced. The conservation of the historic townscape has been identified as a key objective of the regeneration of the town.

5.0 The Fabric of the Conservation Area

The fabric of the town of Fethard includes the materials used in the buildings whether they are stone, slate or plaster; the manner in which they are used, i.e., the architectural details, such as doors, windows, cornices, gutter and various constructional details; the incidental spaces formed by the buildings and the materials with which these spaces are laid out, i.e., walls, pavements and planting. There are also landmark features and objects distinctive to Fethard - the Wall, Watergate and Madam’s Bridges, the churches and small shops, etc. which are a link with the past and help to establish sense of place and community pride.

The fabric, therefore, is made up of elements which themselves may be quite small, but taken together are quite important in determining the character of the town. The accumulative effect of small changes to these elements, whether by removal, crude repair, tactless additions etc., can have a long term detrimental impact on the character and appearance of the town.

Walls built and capped in stone should be repaired in stone. There is an unfortunate change towards the use of aluminium and PVC in window replacement, which has meant that many original sash windows have been lost to Fethard’s streetscapes. Unity and harmony existed when all windows were traditional up and down sash windows, now windows are varied in design, glazing pattern and colour, and out of character with the 19th century streetscape into which they are inserted.

5.1 Colour

The use of carefully selected colours can greatly enhance a streetscape. Colour is used to articulate doors, windows, decorative elements and the shop-front from the upper floors. In deciding on colour for buildings in the Conservation Area, four major categories are commonly used;

  1. Render:- This is where the sand/cement render is left unpainted. The render is often decorated with techniques, which vary from simply scoring of coursing lines to elaborate mouldings which imitate stone of decorative timber mouldings.
  2. Neutral Colour:- This is where the bulk of the building is painted white, off white, cream or some other neutral colour. In these instances details of architecture are often picked out in contrasting colours.
  3. Pastels:- The colours are muted but definite relationships such as harmony or contrast of warm or cool colour schemes exist.
  4. Strong Colours:- Very vivid colour schemes are usually confined to focal buildings. They are difficult to design and require confidence and an intuitive eye for colour relationships. Such colour schemes require a high degree of maintenance or they will quickly look run down.

As a general rule, the use of white for windows and reveals helps to relieve and relate the most contrasting colours. The use of strong colours on strategically located buildings at corners or at ends of streets will help considerably to add to the character of the Conservation Area. When dealing with groups of buildings with a more unified expression a more formal painting scheme may be necessary to reflect the architecture.

5.2 Shop-Fronts

Shop-fronts are one of the quality features of Irish vernacular architecture. The town centre of Fethard has its origin in the middle ages, but much of the townscape dates from the 19th century. There is a grandeur and vigour about some of the traditional shop-fronts in Fethard, with certain styles and designs associated with different types of shops. Draperies were generally elegant, with windows divided by slender columns and arches, for example Ua Floinn on Burke Street. Pubs had family names with interesting and elegant signs.

Many of the shops within the Conservation Area have separate entrances to upper residential accommodation. Some have arched double-doors to access the rear yard of the shop. These are important architectural features as well as being important to retaining the viability of living over the shop and linking off-street spaces to the main streets.

5.3 Design of Shop-Fronts

Traditionally, shop-fronts were applied to the facade and had a strong vertical emphasis. The columns or pilasters, which may be of stone, plaster or timber, appear to carry the weight of the fascia and the wall above. They may have decorative fluting or carved panels or a plain surface. The top of the pilaster may be plain or decorative, the base always contains a plinth.

The entablature contains the Cornice, Frieze and Architrave. The cornice is a projecting element over the fascia, keeping rain off the shop-front and giving strength and emphasis to the top of the shop-front. The depth of the fascia depends on its length, the space between the windows, the cornice and architrave design and the building detail.

Fascia boards are often angled to direct the sun at the shopper. Fascia lettering should be hand painted or raised. Names and signs are important in shop-front design. Shop names particularly family names help to give the town a sense of place and local identity.

Generally speaking, brand advertising is not acceptable on fascias, and fascias should not link buildings of different styles.

The use of stallrisers, which is the area below the display window, was originally a method of reducing the expanse of glass as well as ensuring that the shop-front formed an integral part of the building. Today it has the practical benefit of providing protection for the window from feet, dogs and moisture. As a general rule stallrisers should not be lower than the height of the adjoining pilaster base.

Traditionally, shutters were painted wooden panels, which lifted out. However, shutters tend to result in dead frontage at night, reducing light on the street at night and the potential for window-shopping. The absence of shutters facilitates improved natural surveillance both in the shop and on the street. If roller shutters are a necessity, they must be located behind the window line and should be open grid or see through screen in design. Security stanchions on the footpath are unacceptable.

5.4 Advertising and Signs

The design and location of advertisements and signs deserve careful consideration, to ensure the quality of the buildings and shop-fronts is not obscured by a plethora of inappropriate, unnecessary and unsympathetic advertising.

Fethard has a strong tradition of sign writing, which should be encouraged on traditional shop-fronts or gables.

The Council will apply the following criteria when considering applications for permission to display an advertisement in the Conservation Area:

  1. Shop-front advertisements normally should be restricted to fascia signs placed immediately above the shop window. Fascia lettering and logos are best hand-painted in a style and colour that harmonises with the shop and helps to portray its use. Long continuous fascia signs, stretching full-width across a frontage or straddling across two or more buildings should be avoided. Signs, which extend higher than the cill of first floor windows normally, will be acceptable.
  2. Hanging signs can have a place in the traditional streetscape, however, they should not be mounted higher than first floor windows. There should be normally not more than one hanging sign to each property frontage, and the bracket should not extend more than 80cm from the wall face.
  3. In the case of properties with multiple tenancies, the ground floor shop may have a fascia sign and one additional projecting sign may be permitted to the first floor premises. All additional tenants should be served by a plaque located at the front door.
  4. Where there is insufficient fascia space decorative lettering can be painted directly onto the display window, provided it is of an appropriate form.
  5. Illuminated fascias and projecting require consent and will normally only be allowed where it is demonstrated that the premises rely significantly on trading after dark all year round - such as restaurants and pubs. Backlighted signs and internally illuminated plastic box signs are not considered appropriate in the Conservation Area.

5.5 Public Utilities and Street Furniture

It is the aim of the Council to improve the pedestrian environment in Fethard. To this end the Council will encourage the removal of incongruous items of street furniture, including poles, public signage, sandwich board lottery stands or other items which add to the visual clutter and detract from the streetscene and pedestrian safety.

The Council intends to remove cables and poles, which are unsightly and to underground services in the centre.

The Council will pay particular attention to the nature and quality of materials used for pavements, streets, roads and car parks. Large expanses of tarmac are to be avoided, as are inappropriate colour brick and cobblelock in sensitive areas. The Council intends to continue with the pavement improvements on the square and other areas within the Conservation Area as funds allow.

Careful consideration will be given to the siting of new dustbins, street lighting, seating bollards, particularly in spaces dominated by pedestrian movement.

6.0 Design Approach

Sensitivity is required in the design of buildings or extensions within the Conservation Area. The following general principles apply to development proposals in the area:-

Traditional design is often accepted as the right approach for development within a Conservation Area especially in relation to domestic buildings and infill development in a street frontage. By noting the important characteristics of surrounding property and applying these features in a traditional way, new buildings and extensions can be produced to respect existing form.

Architectural innovation can still exist within this framework, thus avoiding hollow pastiche styles.

Conversion/Adaptation of an existing property should be considered before the need to demolish and replace. Older buildings can be successfully be adapted to new uses and conversion can make good economic sense. Conversion can often enable an important street facade to be retained. A good example of this principle is the renovation of the Abymill.

The intention is to provide a framework of policies, which will permit the maximum degree flexibility in terms of design and choice, consistent with the objective of preserving and enhancing the buildings and spaces, which give the Conservation Area its character.

New Buildings; will have to take proper account of the neighbouring properties and adjacent spaces. Proposals should have regard to the continuity of rhythm, scale, mass and outline of adjacent buildings and their details, materials, texture and colour. The recent housing development on Barrack Street is an example of architectural continuity;

Extensions/Alterations; must complement the existing building. The extension should be subordinate in scale and in a form, which allows the identity and character of the original structure to be retained. Important architectural details should be preserved and protected, including stone walls, iron railings, sash windows and moulded plasterwork;

7.0 Opportunities for Conservation Area Enhancement

  1. Open up access to the town wall as opportunities arise.
  2. Redesign the Square to facilitate pedestrian priority, an enhanced road and parking layout and provide environmental improvements.
  3. Encourage the redevelopment of Church Lane for residential and town centre uses.
  4. Redesign the entrance to the town hall.
  5. Underground all wires in the main street.
  6. Encourage the preservation of all remaining sash windows and Victorian doors and reinstatement where removed.
  7. Improve the pedestrian environmental along the river at the wall.
  8. Encourage the re-use of land and buildings within the Conservation Area.
  9. Seek the removal of unauthorised advertising, signs and pavement furniture.
  10. Review all signage in the conservation area.


List 1 - Schedule of Listed Buildings and Structures
Ref Site Description
1.1 Holy Trinity Church 16th century medieval church of limestone construction. Much altered in the 19th century the present church is the former nave of the original church and the chancel lies in ruins to the east of it. A blocked up round-headed doorway and part of a hood moulding with a carved human dead remain. There is a small stair-turret to the east end of the nave. Remains of a side chapel lie to the south of the former nave with an attractive fluted piscina in the south wall. The bell tower adjoining the west end of the church is 17th century, and has an unusually high parapet with stepped Irish crenellations.

The grounds contain 12 grave slabs of the 17th C. and a limestone fireplace in the east boundary wall.

1.2 Urban Tower House South-east of the Holy Trinity Church, this long rectangular building 3-4 storeys in height is constructed on rough limestone blocks and layers of small flat pinning stones laid in random courses, circa 1500. The west wall faces on to the churchyard is 13-14th century, while the south wall incorporates the 15th or 16th century town wall. The lower storey was entered from the street, the upper floors entered from the churchyard via a flight of steps. Windows have ogee-heads, some with twin-lights. A stair gives access to the parapet.
1.3 Town Hall (Market House) Built as a Tholsel for assemblies, this is a modified 17th century building two storeys high with a forward-facing gable, the apex of which is crowned with an elaborate octagonal chimneystack, with a similar stack on the west gable. The present fenestration dates from the early 19th century. Some of the original square-headed chamfered windows are in situ, though they have been blocked up. In the back wall is a segmental-headed doorway with a hood moulding at first floor, and there is a drip stone protruding at the western end of this south wall. Three 17th century plaques are inserted into the front wall.
1.4 Abbey ‘Augustinian’/ Sheela-na-gig/ Monuments Simple nave and chancel church from the 14th century, rebuilt in the 19th century. The church contains some fine 14th/15th-century stonework including floral motifs and masons marks. The abbey range, 19.35m long and originally four storeys high, runs southward at right angles to the church, and comprises a chapter room, cellars, kitchen and dormitories. The cellars have a barrel-vaulted roof, lit by two-lights with ogee-heads.

Monuments include: the Wale memorial 1634; the Tobin Monument 1634; 3 coats of arms on the south wall of the chancel; two 16th C. memorials in the graveyard; a sculpted head inserted into the north gable of the sacristy; and a sheela-na-gig inserted into a wall. There is a stoup set in the western end of the south wall.

1.5 Urban Tower House Known as Court Castle or Templer’s Castle. No precise date but circa 1400s with alterations in the 16th and 17th centuries, the building is 11.5m x 7m with 1m thick walls. Built in limestone, it has a ground floor entrance at the front (east side) and a first floor entrance to the rear (west side). The ground floor has been shortened to accommodate access from the street into the back yard, however, the original north wall and first floor semi-pointed vault are still in situ. There is a piscina in the west wall, a garderobe chamber in the southeast corner and a spiral-staircase in the southwest corner. A door way now links the castle to the adjacent Castle Inn.
1.6 Late Medieval Building/

Architectural Fragments

This 17th century building is composed of randomly coursed limestone blocks with cut-stone used on coigns. Steep-pitched roof, original windows now blocked up. A number of corbels exist internally and there is a fine 17th century cut-stone fireplace with casement moulding in the west wall.
1.7 Town Defences and all ancillary structures including Sheela-na-gig The wall is composed of randomly cut limestone with small rubble fill and pinning stones. The southern stretch has been restored, as has the only remaining rectangular wall tower located at the southwest corner of the Holy Trinity Church. The north gate at Sparagoulae is the only surviving town gate of the original 4/5 gates. It is 3.5m wide and has a round arch, a pedestrian archway was broken through in the early part of this century. There is a cylindrical turret at the northeast corner.

A sheela-na-gig is inserted in the town wall near Watergate Street and faces the Clashawley river.

1.8 Mill Erected in 1791 and located south of the Augustinian Abbey, it was built in randomly cut limestone and cut stone on the coigns. The building was renovated in 1980, when all the windows were replaced, as were many of the brick arches. Possible site of original Mill attached to the Augustinian Abbey.
1.9 Pound/Window Roughly cut limestone structure dated late 1600’s.
1.10 Late Medieval Building, west side of Burke Street First two houses on Burke street, dated 1700 having a piecrust cornice, with major internal alterations.
1.11 Late Medieval Building, now Lonergans pub Possible - Former forge with a heavy stack on its south gable, now a pub.
1.12 Late Medieval Building, south side of Burke street Facade has been altered, but contains a good example of a Victorian rectangular fanlight doorway.
1.13 Watergate Bridge Small narrow bridge (29.1m long, 5.15m wide and 1.37 parapet), of rubble limestone, irregularly coursed, flat with four spans two segmental headed arches at the northern end and two round-headed at the southern end - circa medieval.
1.14 Madam’s Bridge This three-span bridge is a replacement of an earlier bridge demolished in 1884.
1.15 Archways, former military barracks Site of a late medieval building ‘Everard’s Mansion which was a tower house. This was incorporated in the British military barracks in the 18th century. In 1920 the barracks was destroyed except for two segmental-headed arches and a high wall with pistol loops
1.16 Ringbarrow This is an excellently preserved earthen ring barrow. The central mound is 13m in dia. and surrounded by a ditch 1.2m dia. S.M.R 70.112
1.17 Late Medieval Doorways Three dressed and chamfered limestone doorways. While not in their original location, they are typical of the medieval period.

Note: List 1 extracted from The Urban Archaeology Survey, County Tipperary (S.R.), Archaeological Survey of Ireland, OPW 1993, compiled by Jean Farrelly and Liz Fitzpatrick.


List 2 - Schedule of Listed Buildings and Structures
Ref Site Description
2.1 Medieval defended town-house, Main Street This building appears on the outside as a 19th century building but it superstructure is late medieval. Inside the house are two dressed doorways with pointed arches. Hidden details such as a twin-light ogee-window and window, an upper floor arched doorway and a vault over a ground floor still exist.
2.2 18th century town houses, N/W end of Main Street The first has a porch entrance and window-hoods at ground floor, pediments at first floor, window hoods at second and third floors. Medieval Corbel high on the west gable. The adjoining three storey terraced town houses have late Georgian fenestration, including doorway, with PVC replaced windows and dashed render.
2.3 Presentation Convent, Main Street Built in 1870 and the wings in 1885, this is a limestone ashlar two-storey building. An opening was made in the town wall recently to accommodate a new entrance on to Main Street.
2.4 Holy Trinity, Catholic Church, Main Street This is a very important example of a full-blooded classical barn-church. It is a T-plan, rendered with architraved round-headed windows, and a sprocketed, hipped roof. The facade is of sandstone ashlar three bays and two storeys, with a pedimented frontispiece surmounted by a bellcote, supported on channelled piers and decorated with urns and neo-Greek details. The interior walls and ceiling are decorated with circa 1830 plasterwork.
2.5 ‘O’Shea’ Shop-front, Burke Street 18th century timber shopfront with Corinthian columns and a very well detailed cornice. The front, doorcase and windows have been slightly altered in the 19th century.
2.6 ‘Ua Floinn’ Shop-front and Facade, Burke Street Traditional timber shopfront recently built, flanked by small gothic pilasters. Winner of the Bord Na Gaelige Shopfront Award in 1986.
2.7 Weighing station outside the town hall Manufactured by W.T. Avery Ltd, Birmingham, this is an important part of the market history of the town.
2.8 Remains of railway bridge, Clonmel Road Cut-limestone railway bridge abutment, part of the now ceased Clonmel-Thurles railway line.
2.9 Railway bridge on Jesuits Walk Cut-limestone, three small arches, adds to the amenity value of Jesuits walk as well as important historic structure.
2.10 Doorway, Rocklow Road Doorway to former military Barracks on site of former Everard Residence.



List 3 -Trees Listed for Protection
Ref Location Description
T1 North Bank of the Clashawley River at The Valley Six Hardwoods
T2 South bank of the Clashawley River adjacent to the right of Way at Abbeymill Single hardwood
T3 North bank of the Clashawley River behind the Augustinian Abbey Eight hardwoods
T4 In the grounds of the Augustinian Abbey facing on to Abbey Street Single mature softwood
T5 East side of Upper green Street/Killenaule Road adjacent road Three hardwoods
T6 On the east town boundary line behind the Killenaule Road Eight hardwoods on ditch line
T7 Convent Garden Mature oak
T8 Private dwelling to east of Rocklow Road Three mature softwoods to front and two hardwoods to rear


This site is maintained by Joe Kenny, Rocklow Road, Fethard, Co. Tipperary, Ireland.