The New Committee

An AGM was held on the 4th of June, 1947 in room 67. Minutes of the previous meeting was read and the finances were signed off. With that, the elctio0ns were held with the previous auditor, Francis MacAdam  holding the chair. the results were as follows;

 

Auditor: Mr Patrick Moore M.Sc

Secretary: Miss Ellen Prendergast B. A.

Director of Field Survey: Mr Edwin MacEvoy

Committee members: Miss Mary Gardiner, Miss Marie Deery, Mr Patrick Moloney & Mr Joseph Hanley

 

The new an old committee wished each other well and gave thanks to the support of one another… each wishing each other luck in the future.

The new committee were quick of the mark to get the following year going and met again on the 6th of June and 18th of June to plan the program for the upcoming year.

 

Fields trips were held that summer to Seefin (8th of June), Felttrim (15th June) and St. Patricks Island, Skerries (13th of July). Many of the committee took part in excavations that summer such as digs at Feltrim Hill under Mr Hartnett’s supervision and at Lough Gur under the direction of Prof. O’Ríordáin.

Dr Bersu’s theory on the Early Irish House

early irish house

The Rev. Prof. Shaw SJ gave a lecture on the ‘The House in Early Irish Literature’ in Room 67 on Valentines day. He used Dr. Bersu’s theory on the Early Irish House as suggested by his research on the Isle of Man, to support his own research. Rev. Shaw used terms such as ‘Rath’, ‘Tios’, ‘Dún’ & ‘Teach’ and pointed out the difference and significance as illustrated by the manuscripts relating to the Ulster Cycles. He used the early Christian texts to build up a picture of the period using the laws related to building 

to dig a rath

Society Outings 1946-47

Numerous society outings were held throughout the academic year.

October  27th, 1946 – The Wedge Tomb at Ballyedmonduff

November 10th, 1946 – The Bronze Age tomb at Tibradden and other nearby monuments

December 8th, 1946 – A visit of the antiquities of Howth such as the raised beach site, the Dolmen and a promontory fort at the Bailey.

December 15th, 1946 – A visit to the Early Christian remains at Tully and Rathmichael.

January 26th, 1947 –  A visit of the antiquities of Finglas including William the 3rd’s rampart, an early cross in the churchyard at Dunsoghley castle and moate and the Kilshane moate.

February 16th, 1947 – Castleknock castle and surrounding antiquities.  

March 9th, 1947 – The megalithic tombs of Glendruid and Kiltiernan.

March 23rd, 1947 – A visit of the antiquities of Saggart.

March 30th, 1947 – A survey of the passage tombs at Bremore, Gormanstown and an inspection of local highcrosses.

April 20th, 1947 – A trip to Rush.

April 27th, 1947 – A trip to Donabate.

and finally a weekend trip to visit monuments in the Carlow – west – Wicklow area (date not given).

Men from the Ministry: How Britain Saved Its Heritage

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Bryan Hugh St. J O’Neill was born in 1905 in London. He was educated at Merchant Taylor’s School and later received his MA at St. John’s College in Oxford. He married a fellow archaeologist, Helen Donovan (noted for her work in Gloucester) in 1939.

In 1930, he was appointed to the Office of Works as an Assistant Inspector of Ancient Monuments and was later assigned to Wales. A positioned he occupied until 1945. By then he was made Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments for England and Wales. His work as the Wales A.M. Inspector, however was cut short with the declaration of war in 1939. He was assigned to take charge in London of the archaeological consequences of War damage and the organisation of rescue excavations. Despite 15 years working in Wales, he had no permanent residence there and his office remained in London.

As Chief Inspector he was involved with the drafting of the 1953 Historic Buildings Act and setting up Historic Building Councils. He was responsible for advising on the conservation and presentation of Britain’s ancient monuments which were in the guardianship of the State. He deemed which of those were worthy of preservation.

He was a committee member of numerous Archaeology societies but in 1931, he joined the Cambrian Archaeological Association and served on its General Committee . He published extensively and of his 200 listed publications, one third was on Welsh archaeology, and appeared mainly in Archaeologia Cambrensis , The Montgomeryshire Collections and publications of H.M.S.O.

O’Neill also had a strong interest in coins starting back in his youth and was part of the Royal Numismatic Society

Further information on his wartime archaeological work can be found in Simon Thurley’s ‘“Men from the Ministry: How Britain Saved Its Heritage” published in 2013.

The 6th Inagural – War Time Excavations in Britain

6th inagural

January 21st, 1947, the Society welcomed Bryan Hugh St. John O’Neill, Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments for the Ministry of Works in Great Britain. Prof. O’Ríordáin, President of the Society took the chair. O’Neill’s talk was on the many excavations conducted on airfields and numerous other sites during the war.

During the war time, , the clearing of land for airfields and such was vital to the wartime effort. The consequence of which, resulted in many archaeological sites and features being destroyed. O’Neill was tasked to record and preserve as much information as possible before their destruction. Many sites were excavated under this rescue scheme that ordinarily would not have been dealt with for many years. Sites included, the Bilbury Long Barrow and the Long Cairn at Burn Grave, Gloucestershire. Burn Grave proved to be a transeptal gallery grave (an important transitional site).

Other sites included a house site and Beaulieu Heath, an Iron Age camp at Cardiganshire and an Iron Age settlement at Droughton, Northampton.  Air photography was used extensively to identify these sites. One of the most famous of the sites discovered was the ‘Celtic Temple’ at the now Heath row airport.

O’Neill also dealt with the Roman Villa at Herefordshire and a linear earthworks in Silchester suggesting that Silchester was a Roman British settlement. 

Prof. O’Ríordáin highlighted the fact that great care was taken during these rescue operations and that O’Neill should be commended for his thoroughness and neatness of the excavations. O’Ríordáin also pointed out how similar work was done in Ireland between 1934-40 but not to the same scale.

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