So, after many months of planning, the first day of the season arrived on Tuesday 8th June!
Arrived at ‘The Dairy’ in Kiltale cottages to pick up Emma Lagan, then on to Mary Lydon’s house to pick up the second student, Erin Collins, on a rather wet misty June morning. Was greeted with a cup of tea and a slice of toast by Mary and Micheal, to properly start the day, then the girls gathered up their gear, with pink wellies to the fore and we headed off for Black Friary in Trim. Day 1 of the Field School had begun.
The site seemed somewhat daunting, with grass standing waist-high and very wet, but the views of the Yellow Steeple and St. Patrick’s Cathedral nearby reminded us that we were indeed standing on part of the rich heritage of Trim.
By walking (though it felt more like wading) through the long grass I could show the students the traces of the walls of the once wealthy Dominican Friary, and we tried to trace out the postion of the church, cloister, and living quarters of the community who had lived and worked there for over 200 years. We know the location of part of the graveyard through work done as part of the Trim Street Restoration Project, when the remains of 11 men, buried to the west of the site were uncovered. From the osteologist’s report we knew that some had suffered wounds consistent with a battle or skirmish, wounds they may well have died from.
We waited for Ian, our geophysicist to arrive, and in the meanwhile had a visit from members of the Town Council who are supporting and partnering us in this project, who assured us that the waist high grass would be reduced to more manageable proportions shortly. They are also generously providing us with a premises to act as our headquarters, complete (we hope) with kitchen, bathroom and workspace. Luxury for a field project!
Ian arrived, and the students set to work helping in setting out the site grid, but not before an informative walk to see some of the many impressive medieval buildings which survive in this town.
So, day one down, and progress made. We hope that over time as we reveal the remains which still lie beneath the long grass and buried detritus of more recent times that the community who live here will come to value and use this space, and know better its story.