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Treasure trove of artefacts found at Rathfarnham Castle by OPW

Mr. Simon Harris, TD, Minister of State with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Minister Heather Humphreys, TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht today (30 October) announced the discovery of a unique assemblage of artefacts in Rathfarnham Castle.
The original castle at Rathfarnham dates back to the Elizabethan period (1583) and was built for Archbishop Adam Loftus, who came to Ireland as chaplain to the Lord Deputy and quickly rose to become Archbishop of Armagh and Dublin, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, First Provost and founder of Trinity College Dublin, and Queen’s Elizabeth chief envoy to Ireland.
The current works being carried out by OPW relate to the provision of a new lift and staircase in the south-west tower, new toilet facilities, and upgrading of doors and floors for fire resistance, as well as provision of ramps and steps externally to allow level access to a new entrance point.
Speaking at Rathfarnham Castle, Minister Harris said: “I am delighted to be here today with Minister Humphreys and Raghnall Ó’Floinn, Director of the National Museum of Ireland, to announce the discovery of a unique collection of artefacts, dating back to the 17th Century. My office, the Office of Public Works, made the exciting discovery while carrying out vital upgrade works relating to universal accessibility and fire safety issues in the Castle. We could have chosen any of four flanker towers to install the lift so it was definitely a lucky find for OPW and for everyone who will enjoy these artefacts when they go on public display”
Archaeological monitoring of the building works, especially the demolitions in the south west and south east flankers, has uncovered evidence relating to earlier building periods, including blocked gun loops, fireplaces, and fragments of doors and windows dating from the 16th, 17th, and both early and later 18th centuries. However, this most exciting discovery of the 2014 renovation works relates to a hundred years after the castle was constructed.
Minister Humphreys added: “It is fascinating to get a glimpse at this incredible collection of artefacts, which date from the late 1600s. From the personal possessions, rare coins, seeds from fruit and even high heeled leather shoes, this incredible archaeological find gives us a great sense of the people who lived in Rathfarnham Castle more than 300 years ago.”
“I would like to commend the OPW for their careful work in ensuring that these artefacts are well preserved for the enjoyment of future generations. The National Museum of Ireland will now work with the OPW to fully conserve this find, and hopefully put them all together for an exhibition to go on display at Rathfarnham Castle after the works are complete.”
The archaeological finds from the excavation have been removed for laboratory cleaning and analysis, and archaeologists are working with the OPW and the National Museum of Ireland to fully conserve the remarkable assemblage that includes
· Sets of lead crystal drinking goblets.
· Coins dating as far back as 1602.
· Chinese porcelain tea-sets along with perfectly-preserved tea leaves.
· Seeds and pips from olives, melons, grapes, cherries, peaches and other exotic fruit along with shells, fish and bird bones.
· Glass wine and spirit bottles.
· Cromwellian armour breastplate, musket balls and gun flints.
· Artefacts relating to 17th century costume, including jewellery, buckles, shoes etc.
· Small ointment and cosmetic jars (possibly from Italy) and a rare folding travel toothbrush.

Minister Harris concluded: “Now that the artefacts have been safely retrieved, works on the main contract have been resumed. I am confident that the Castle will re-open in 2015 and I look forward to viewing the exhibition of these amazing archaeological finds.”

Tags: Minister Heather Humphreys, Minister of State Simon Harris, Rathfarnham Castle, OPW