Buried treasure discovered at Rathfarnham Castle

Rathfarnham Castle

Rathfarnham Castle

A veritable treasure trove of artefacts have been discovered at Rathfarnham Castle. The find was made in the course of works being carried out by OPW in order to provide a new lift and staircase in the south-west tower.

The find included:
· 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.

Coin - Philip IV of Spain silver colonial coin from 1655

Coin – Philip IV of Spain silver colonial coin from 1655



Speaking on a visit to the castle Minister Heather Humphries said:

“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.”

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

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



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.”


Photos: http://www.opw.ie


Scheme for Community Groups to Partner with OPW Heritage Sites

The OPW has  launched a nationwide advertising campaign seeking expressions of interest from local heritage/community groups who may be interested in becoming a partner with the OPW.

Brian Hayes TD said  “For whatever reason Ireland has never involved voluntary effort in the presentation of our heritage.  Unlike many European countries where volunteers are an essential part of heritage tourism, we have been slow to formalise the involvement of community groups in our national heritage.  This will change under my time as Minister.”

The Minister went on to say “The potential of volunteering and Irish heritage has never been organised at a national level.  As the lead agency with the responsibility in preserving and presenting our heritage, we need the help of local community and heritage groups”.

The Minister continued “Building on the success of the free day initiative launched by the OPW last year, I want by this summer to have at least 25 partnerships in place between the OPW and various organisations.  Since coming into office I have been impressed by the enormous interest that exists locally in the heritage sites that are under the control of the OPW”.

“I am constantly met by groups who want greater opening times, more local involvement or who have plans to develop tourism locally by using our national monuments and national properties. We need to work with these groups.  A new partnership needs to be formed between the OPW and local volunteering effort.  There are of course challenges for the OPW in this but I’m convinced that this organisation has the expertise and know how required”, the Minister said.

Minister Hayes said further “The truth is that funding for extending opening times or extending the excellent guide service are simply not there.  Nor will they be over the next few years.  If we want more domestic or international tourists to visit our fantastic sites, we need the help of community groups.  While everyone knows the Rock of Cashel or Kilkenny Castle, there are literally dozens of other amazing sites which have been restored brilliantly by the OPW and which need to be developed”.

“Next year 2013 is the year of the gathering.  It’s a great opportunity to showcase the wonderful heritage we have in this country.  Far too many sites across the country should have a much greater local input.  Working with local groups the OPW can help develop the tourism platform and have a much greater local involvement”.

If you are part of a local historical or heritage group and are interested in getting involved with this exciting project, email communities@opw.ie or phone 046 942 6106 or 046 942 6061. The closing date for expressions of interest is this Wednesday 28th March 2012.

A national conference will take place in April and the OPW will provide training to those groups selected to take part.

For further information, see the OPW website and The Wheel. A list of OPW Heritage Sites can be found here.


Berkeley Costume and Toy Collection at Rathfarnham Castle

Have you paid a visit to Rathfarnham Castle lately? Last month they launched The Berkeley Costume and Toy Collection which is collection of 18th and 19th Century toys, dolls and costumes. The collection is the passion of Irish artist and collector Countess Ann Griffin Bernstorff who began assembling it over twenty years ago, from her own family heirlooms and from auctions and donations. The items cover a period of eighty years, from 1740 to 1820, and range from rare and delicate artefacts to simple playthings and everyday garments of the past.

The fascinating toys and fabulous costumes bring the elegant and historic rooms of Rathfarnham Castle to life. It is the perfect setting to display this collection and to bring it to a wider audience.The exhibition will run for the next ten years.

A visit is highly recommended! It’s an amazing place to have on our doorstep. Rathfarnham Castle’s Winter opening hours are : 10.00 – 17:00 Wednesday – Sunday. Admission is completely free, tours are self guided but a guided tour can be prearranged if required. Groups of ten or more must book in advance. There’s a really nice café there too 🙂