The first electronic survey of the 16th century garrison walls in Portlaoise has found it largely intact, with sections forming walls of many modern buildings and yards in the town centre.
Portlaoise the capital town of county Laois was founded as the first English garrison in Ireland.
The high stone walls built to protect soldiers sent to the Queens county “to put manners on the natives”, according to Laois Heritage Officer Catherine Casey.
Now laser imaging is being done to record every stone.
“It’s surprisingly intact. 75 percent of the walls are still there. They form the front of the vocational school, they run down the back of main street, as some back yard walls, and some are inside O’Loughlin’s Hotel,” said Ms Casey.
The wall is visible from the gates of Scoil Mhuire school on Railway street, while the school is built on top of the original main garrison building. It runs behind Fitzmaurice place where its main tower stands, and up as far the old vocational school across from the cinema.
“We are scanning it by laser and taking high resolution photos of almost every stone. It will be easy to construct what would have been there,” she said.
Detailed drawings of all the intact portions of wall have been made, and a scale model of the fort is being created by Portlaoise Men’s Shed.
It is hoped that a digital model will eventually be on display in the new Portlaoise library, when it opens in 2019.
The project is being conducted by Laois Heritage Society, funded by the Heritage Council and Laois County Council.
A Conservation Plan is almost complete, led by a Conservation Architect with an archaeologist on the team. They have stated the significance of the fort’s remains, and what threats exist to it.
Map is from phase one of the plan by Lotts Architecture, see report at http://www.laois.ie/wp-content/uploads/2015-12-02-Fort-Protector-Conservation-Plan-Phase-I-96dpi.pdf)