Dave Byrne, Cóilín Ó' Drisceoill and Dan Lenehan at the Motte in Callan. PICTURE: HARRY REID
Work has begun to make Callan’s historic Motte Field more accessible to the public.
The long anticipated project will allow access to walkers and wheelchair users, when complete, with paths, landscaping and historical information boards.
Contractors were appointed in January but work could only get underway last week. The project is expected to take approximately six to eight weeks.
Plans for the Motte Field include an 880 metre recreational trail and path around the field and an 85 metre pedestrian access from Lower Bridge Street, together with landscaping and associated works. There will also be eight stone columns, arranged around the walking route, that will tell the 800 year history of the motte.
Public consultation on the project first began more than seven years ago. Improving access to the field was a key part of the Local Area Plan for Callan, and the development of the Motte Field as a community amenity was also included in the town plan published by the Callan Town Team in co-operation with the County Council, Camphill Communities and Kilkenny Leader Partnership.
Callan’s Motte Field is the historic site of a 13th Century motte and bailey, one of the largest in Leinster. It would originally have had a stone building and wooden tower fortification atop the 12 metre hill, which is all that can still be seen. Archaeological surveys of the area show signs the area may have been inhabited even further back in history.
The fortification was built around 1217, Geoffrey FitzRobert, seneschal to William Marshal, First Earl of Pembroke, when the town of Callan was chartered. It is said that Cromwell positioned cannons on it during the ill fated siege of Callan in 1650.
Funding for the project was announced in late 2018 under the National Rural Regeneration and Development fund.
“It will be really beneficial to locals and tourists,” said Cllr Joe Lyon, welcoming the start of the work. “We are lucky it escaped the developers’ clutches or part of our history would have disappeared forever.”