Tipperary Councillors respond to concerns over Tipperary Hills works.

Do you accept that the stairs was not constructed above ground, is not a “floating stairs” and that excavation of the Norman motte was carried out?

The stairs constructed is a ‘floating stairs’. The floating staircase sits on top of the surface without installing major foundations into the ground below. With the installation of any floating stairs there will be some disturbance of the ground beneath the stairs. The foundation posts for the stairs were driven by hand into the side of the motte and remainder of the stairs constructed thereafter.

The Project Manager informed me that there was minimal disturbance excavation to the footprint of the stairs to level the area and to fill the informal track that was already cut into the side of the hill to prevent further erosion. The disturbance, which is seen at the side of the stairs, is required to keep the stair as low as possible, allowing it to blend into the side of the hill when the grass grows up around it. These works were supervised and monitored by the Archaeologist.

2. Do you accept that excavation of the Norman motte was carried out in order to install the pathway at the top?

Yes, the grass sod/topsoil only was removed, the pathway at the top was ‘scraped’ to allow for a level surface to be laid.

3. Do you support that the excavated material should now be examined by qualified archaeologists to determine if any archaeologically significant items have been excavated?

Yes and this is happening. An archaeologist has been onsite throughout the works, any significant material that the Archaeologist may have identified is being examined. To date some animal bones were found in amongst the topsoil, along with broken alcohol bottles. Unfortunately, there was a manmade fire set on top of the Motte which caused damage to the topsoil and this may have contaminated the carbon in the bones, however they are being examined. In addition, a Medieval coin was discovered but the Archaeologist believe that this coin may have been brought onto the site several years ago.

4. Do you support the stairs being removed to facilitate this examination?

I cannot see how the removal of the stairs will facilitate further examination as the Archaeologist has been monitoring all excavation works.

5. Do you accept that the works are not in accordance with planning, as set out in the Chief Executive’s Report?

The Planning Dept have confirmed that the works are in accordance with planning as per the CE report.

6. Do you agree to seek documents from the Council regarding archaeological monitoring and/or ministerial licencing regarding the works and provide those to the writer?

Yes

7. Do you support the remediation of the site to as close as possible to the state in which it has existed for several hundred years?

I have had many conversations with members of the Public since the stairs were first constructed. There is a diverse mix of opinion, many people, as can be seen from your Poll do not like/want the stairs, however there are others who support the installation of the stairs once they are assured that Archaeological assessment has taken place and that best practice has been followed in the installation of the stairs. The enhancement, protection and delivering accessibility to the Motte is a key aim in the redevelopment of the Hills. The idea of the staircase is to allow access to the top without causing further erosion and give more people the opportunity to access the top of the Motte in the least invasive way as possible.

8. Please look at the route of the proposed stairs in the drawings that were approved by the Council in Attachment B, drawing 2.3. Do you agree that the route of the stairs shown in the Attachment C photograph is significantly different to what is shown in the drawing that was approved by the Council when planning was granted?

Yes, the route is different to what is show in the drawing. I queried this and was informed that upon examination it was agreed that the footprint of the stairs should sit above the informal manmade path that is already in existence. This path suffers from considerable manmade erosion, and it was agreed that moving the staircase to this position would protect the surface of the Motte from further damage. When I queried the change of route with Planning, it is classed as a minor amendment which is allowed. The change of route allowed for the least amount of impact on the Motte as the revised position of the staircase protects the informal track from further erosion.

9. If you agree that the route if the stairs that was constructed is not in accordance with the approved drawings, that the stairs as constructed, are not in accordance with the Part 8 planning approval?

The construction of the stairs is in accordance with Part 8 Planning (see Q8)

10. If you agree that the stairs are not in accordance with the approval, do you agree that the stairs should be removed and that the area should be remediated as close as possible to its previous condition (subject to archaeological advice and supervision)?

See Q 8 & 9

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