The Wonderful Barn

The Wonderful Barn in my opinion, is the most impressive monument I have come across so far in all my studies of Irish Archaeology. Why didn’t they flash this image anywhere in college,and why doesn’t Kildare tourism use this more? It’s pretty unique (aside from two other similar structures nearby) to say the least. Built in 1743 by Katherine Connolly, it was a relief project to provide local people with employment during a famine at the time. It was supposed to be a place to store grain from the local clans of the O’Byrnes and the O’Tooles who visited the area looking for food. It’s a conical shaped building with an outdoor staircase of 94 steps wrapping itself around the seven story high  building. Grain was pulled up through the centre of the room and was spread on the floors to dry. The windows are made of oak and are unglazed to provide ventilation to the Barn. It’s easy to access being near the N4, but you’ll have to go through a field or two (there are nearby allotments nearby), but once you’re there you should have the place to yourself.

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References : A History of Celbridge by Tony Doohan




Heritage Week

Remember it’s Heritage week!

Here are the events happening in Ireland, just choose your county! In Kildare, you can get tours of Maynooth Castle, of Castletown House, Canal tours, bus tours to local towns, Forest Park tours, so there’s plenty to see.

‘Ruins are not empty. They are sacred places full of presence’ – John O’ Donoghue

I found this quote at the beginning of  ‘A History of Celbridge’ and I wanted to know what you think of it.

A part of me wants to shout down this quote as stupid. How can ruins be sacred and full of presence? People lived there before and may have been around too, but now they are cold, dark and empty and say or do nothing. It is only people that bring places to life. You don’t see people looking at my disused garage with nostalgia. Most people pass over lesser known ruins. Basically they are not sacred and are most definitely empty.

Another part of me disagrees with this however. I’m the first to admit I really dislike people imposing meaning and importance onto places which in my opinion have none. But what is it that makes me turn my head every time I pass a monument, or an object from the past I’ve spotted hundreds of times? Is it because it is ‘sacred’? Is it because people lived there before or attached importance to it before? There are plenty of ruined cottages in the countryside nobody cares about, but what makes Newgrange, or the Rock of Cashel, Two of Ireland’s biggest tourist attractions, so, well…attracting? If you look at the model of Newgrange in the information centre you see fact, and imagination. Images and models of a hunter-gatherer lifestyle are pictured.People look up inside the tomb and silently (or not )sigh an ‘AH’. They envisage presence, they feel a sacred space.

What do you think? Have you felt sacred space, or presence?
Share your thoughts.

The Return of…

Maynooth Castle is once again open for business this year. Details of its opening hours can be found here

It seems like a good time to announce my return to the blogging world. After a hectic few months settling into a new job, I feel the time is right to continue the adventures that are Archaeology in Maynooth! Will keep you posted.

Archaeology is STRANGE


It’s been a while since I’ve posted. A stolen laptop and a new job can contribute to that. So I was going to make this one quick. I’ve been thinking about Archaeology and it is strange. I take pictures of objects and buildings that were normal occurrences years ago and describe them as if they were of special interest. They are interesting don’t get me wrong, but a castle, however inspiring it is to look at, was simply a place where people lived. So to get me thinking about this more, I took a lovely picturesque photo of Tesco, where in years to come, some blogger from the 22nd century will take the same photo of a beautiful overgrown Tesco and describe the history of this building where people used to shop.