Sigginstown Castle

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Phase Two Complete: Planning Permissions Granted!

There are two additional pages to this story:
Permissions & People       Designs & Documents

Our Planning phase was the period after purchase and up to construction. There is a significant amount of preparation and paperwork needed to apply for permissions at both the local and national levels. Included in this phase are activities like measured surveys, archeological assessment, septic percolation tests, architectural designs, conservation methodology. 

Getting Started as Owners

After purchasing the castle in May, we returned  in July 2016 to enter as owners, do some basic cleanup, meet the neighbors and figure out our initial plan. Since the tower was not accessible from the outside without a very long and dangerous ladder, we removed the cemented doorway and installed our first small project - a hobbit door!

Sponsoring a Student Design Contest

We wanted to get ideas for renovation.  We had our own, but thought it was too good an opportunity to pass up getting ideas from others about this great project. From September to December 2016 we invited students from 8 Irish universities to participate, and Wexford Institute of Technology submitted 13 design ideas as part of a 3rd year architecture program. See the results and great ideas!

Brush Clearing, Archeology & Perc Tests

In  November 2016 we held our first Community event and invited interested people to help us clear brush around the castle so we could see the state of the walls. This was also in preparation for initial archeology testing done by Stafford McLoughlin Archeology. Nothing of great interest or significance was found, but we discovered the remains of a 18th or 19th century cobbled courtyard that we would like to excavate as part of a future community archeology project. We also had some initial percolation testing done to establish drainage for septic.  

Creating the Design

It is our intent to utilize all three areas of the existing buildings: tower, house and agricultural building for a combination of private living and community event space.  We worked with David O'Brien, an architectural technician to develop the drawings. After our RFI we were required to bring on a Conservation Architect, so we also worked with Michael Tierney on the appropriate methods and integration to the historical structure. See the designs for planning permissions here.

Castle Dating project

Rory Sherlock has been running an Irish Tower House dating project using wicker, and Bayesian analysis, a statistical method whcih can provide better dates. We received a grant from the Castle Studies Group to cover the archeology, fees, labwork to date our wicker.  Besides concentrating on adding roofs, windows and doors, these small project grants help us document the history and share more with other people. THANK YOU!  See the complete report here...

Geophysical Survey

As part of our planning process, but also because we REALLY want to know what was on the property in earlier days, Joann Leigh performed a geo-physical survey in June 2017.   The study was funded by the Heritage Council, and we are very excited that they have chose our project! The study will be used in conjunction with architectural drawings and archeology to avoid unnecessary disturbance of historical remains. See the results here

Initial Application for Planning

In January 2018 we submitted our initial application to Wexford County Council for planning permissions.  David O'Brien handled all of the process for us in addition to doing our drawings. The period for review was eight weeks. In late March 2018 we were notified of a Request for Further Information, or RFI. 

 Archeology & Septic Redesign

We needed to do more archeology testing to understand the impact of our site design.  Additionally we had originally thought a large but shallow drip septic field using just the 4" of top soil would be a good approach. This had to be reconsidered after we did many more test trenches in May 2018, and we found evidence of medieval artifacts  in the field.  It was decided that a smaller footprint sand filter would be a better approach and this was part of our RFI submission.  

Request for Further Information

The RFI content was drafted by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and then was summarized by Wexford County Council. The RFI had a lot of specifics on the tower, and noted that we needed more expertise on our team. During this phase we engaged Michael Tierney, Conservation Architect, and Bena Stutchbury, who had helped us with our castle search, as expert consultants. We had six months to submit our response and did so in late August 2018.  David O'Brien again coordinated all of the updated submissions from the team.

Celebrate! Permissions Granted!

We had initial notification that the permissions were granted in mid-September, only a few weeks after our RFI submission. Hooray! We were delighted and excited!  We had to wait a few more weeks in case there were any objections, and we got final grant notification on October 17th 2018! We are VERY grateful to all of the people who helped us with this phase and guided us towards completion!

This is a summary of the Phase - Read more about the People and Process here...