Hospice Development Update – Fulacht Fiadh

Hospice Development Update – Fulacht Fiadh

Update on the development of our Mayo Hospice

Phase One of our Capital Development Plan is to build a 14 bed Hospice unit on site at Knockaphunta in Castlebar and Phase Two will be an 8 Bed Hospice unit in the grounds of Roscommon hospital. Archaeology was found on site in Castlebar which required additional exploration. The final archaeological report has now been submitted to Mayo County Council. We are very hopeful that there will be no need for further excavation on the site and we expect to receive confirmation from the Council in the coming weeks.

All going to plan work is to commence on building the Mayo unit in spring 2017 with completion in autumn 2018 and the Roscommon unit will then follow. These long awaited developments will help us to provide a first class comprehensive palliative care service for the people of our two Counties. After so many delays we are all looking forward with great anticipation to commencing the build.

Fulacht Fiadhs unearthed on site of Mayo Hopspice.

Additional archaeological work on our Mayo Site will cost Hospice an extra €20k plus.

Archaeological investigations were carried out on the site for the new Hospice Unit at Knockaphunta in Castlebar. Previous testing had identified a layer of burnt stone and charcoal which contained frequent modern material including glass and pottery. It was decided to investigate beneath this material to see if archaeology was present below it. Once the layer was partially removed a number of pits and other features were identified suggestive of a surviving archaeological site.

It now appears that the site is as fulacht fiadh, a monument type usually found in wet or marshy areas, near stream courses or other water sources. They are thought to be primarily of Bronze Age date, though literary sources suggest their continued use in perhaps a limited or ritualistic sense into later times, and some archaeologically dated examples have been dated to the Neolithic period. When excavated, they usually consist of a hearth, a mound of fire-cracked stones and burnt material, and a trough or pit. It is thought that hot stones were dropped into a water-filled trough to heat the water for cooking or other purposes. Other than the traditional cooking interpretation, there is some suggestion that they could have had semi-industrial uses, such as in the washing and dying of clothes and hides or in the preparation of leather, while it has even been suggested they could have been used in the manufacture of beer.

Fulacht fiadhs are relatively common monuments in Mayo with over 380 listed in the RMP files and additional examples excavated recently on excavations. The site at Knockaphunta will now require additional excavation and recording, with samples sent for dating. This work will cost Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation more than €20k extra, which is a very unwelcome cost, to say the least, but we accept this has to be done for heritage purposes.

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