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Conservation works Old Gaol in Fore

There are records of a gaol in Fore from the 1500s. The 'Old Gaol' is now a ruined masonry structure located in the centre of the village. "It is not clear whether this structure was a purpose-built prison or if it was adapted from an earlier Tower House (Castle). What was clear however, was that it needed attention if it was to be conserved for future generations", says Heritage Officer Melanie McQuade.

In 2020, with funding from the Community Monuments Fund, from the National Monuments Service, Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, the owner commissioned a Conservation Plan for the 'Old Gaol' This Plan set out the priority works needed to stabilize and conserve the monument. In 2021, further support from the Community Monuments Fund facilitated essential conservation works. These works have recently been completed.

"The monument was very overgrown, and the first step was to remove the ivy and other plants that were causing structural damage. Once the vegetation was removed, the priority was to repair the wall tops and undertake necessary structural repairs," says Conservation Architect Fergal McNamara from 7L Architects who led the project. These repairs included rebuilding the supporting arch of the door and repairing the cracked lintel of the arrow loop in the gable wall. This was done by Revamp Conservation masonry contractors, who worked mainly with stone salvaged from the site - most of which had collapsed from the monument over the years.

"The works completed to date will ensure that the building is as safe and stable as possible", says Conservation Engineer Ger Neville from PUNCH Consulting Engineers. "As well as stabilising the structure, the works have helped us to understand the building better. Removal of the vegetation revealed hitherto unseen or misinterpreted features of the building, for example a murder hole was identified over the door and the remains of a vault can now be seen at first floor level", says Archaeologist Rory Sherlock.

For more information contact Melanie McQuade Heritage Officer on Email: melanie.mcquade@westmeathcoco.ie, Mobile: 087 6074469 A short video of the Conservation works at Fore Gaol can be viewed here

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Content Last Updated/Reviewed: 15/11/2021