A programme of conservation works has been completed on the Athlone Town Wall, the local authority confirmed this week.
“Originally constructed in the mid-13th century, Athlone Town Wall has undergone several stages of repair, rebuilding and extension over the centuries. The walls of our town have been witness to battles, sieges and settlement over the centuries and are an important part of the story of the town,” Westmeath County Council Heritage Officer, Melanie McQuade, remarked.
Only a few sections of the Town Wall in Athlone are still standing today. Many people will be familiar with the stretch of ‘Dublin Gate Wall’ in front of the Civic Offices or the remains of the bastion at Lucas Lane. There are also less visible stretches of the town wall, behind the Prince of Wales Hotel and running along the gardens of the houses on Railway View.
Conservation work has recently been completed on three stretches of the wall; the ‘Northeast Bastion’ in front of the Civic Offices, a stretch of the ‘Dublin Gate Wall’ at St Mary’s graveyard, Church Street, and a length of wall at the back of the Prince of Wales Hotel, behind the Civic Offices.
Works at the Northeast Bastion entailed the removal of vegetation and localised repair. At St Mary’s Graveyard, works involved carefully rebuilding a section of the wall, where there was a large crack through the structure, repairing the wall tops, other localised repair and repointing, as well as repairing heavily weathered brick at the Church Street end of the wall. Here a lime ‘shelter coat’ has been applied as further protection from weathering. These works were funded by the Community Monuments Fund through the National Monuments Service in the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
“At the back of the Civic Offices the roots of a couple of large ash and sycamore trees were growing through the wall, displacing masonry and threatening the stability of the wall. Further structural damage was being caused by Ivy and Buddleia growing on the wall.
“Based on the advice of arborist, Noel Lane of Dorian Tree Care and CORA Consulting Engineers, the trees were carefully felled by Parklawn Tree Services. Felling was done in September, in order to avoid any impact on nesting birds, then the other vegetation was removed.
“Some unstable parts of wall had to be carefully taken down. The wall tops were rebuilt and localised repairs and repointing were carried out. Works on this section of the wall were funded by the Heritage Council through the Irish Walled Towns Network.
“The ‘Athlone Town Walls and Defences Conservation Plan’ guided all of the these works, which were specified by Conservation Engineers from CORA Consulting Engineers and carried out by Revamp Conservation specialist contractors and stonemasons. Because the town wall is a National Monument, works were carried out under Ministerial consent and recorded by an archaeologist.
“As well as stabilizing these sections of the Town Wall, the conservation works will help to weatherproof the structure by limiting the opportunity for rainwater and vegetation to penetrate the wall. This will help to safeguard the monument for future generations. These works have been made possible through grant assistance from The Community Monuments Fund, from the National Monuments Service and a grant from the Heritage Council, through the Irish Walled Towns Network, with support from Westmeath Council,” Ms McQuade concluded.