This area known locally as the Round Hill of Lismore, hidden in the trees is the site of a motte and bailey castle, built by King John of England in the late 12th century. The bailey was a fenced yard containing most of the castle buildings. A narrow footbridge rose from here to the motte, a carefully layered mound topped with a wooden tower or hall, or both.
In 1185 King John built three new castles to protect the borders of his province in East Munster, at Ardfinnan, Co. Tipperary, Dungarvan and here at Lismore Co. Waterford. King John’s motte and bailey castle at the Round Hill was made of timber and earth. These structures were quick to build, but the woodwork rotted over time and was normally replaced with masonry but this did not happen at Lismore.
King John chose this hilltop site by a river crossing 1.6km downstream of the old monastic town of Lismore, and may have intended to create a new town. However this motte and bailey castle was overrun and abandoned four years after it was constructed. Lismore continued to grow at its original location around the Cathedral of St Carthage or Mochuda. In time a stone building was erected near the cathedral, and this developed into the Lismore Castle we have today.
At the start of the 17th century, and probably for centuries before, the Round Hill was a rabbit warren. In 1603 it supplied ten conyes (rabbits) per week every week from midsummer to the start of February for the Earl of Cork, in residence at Lismore Castle.
Lismore Heritage Centre adopted the Round Hill as part of the Heritage Council’s Adopt a Monument Scheme in 2016. As part of this scheme, reports have been gathered on the history, geology, geomorphology and ecology of the site, and a small geophysical survey was carried out in 2016 and 2017.
Below are a few documents and reports which can be downloaded for a bit of extra information regarding The Round Hill Project.
This report provides a geological and geomorphological context for the Round Hill site at Lismore, Co. Waterford and briefly outlines how these factors might have influenced the development of a settlement here. in addition, a risk assessment for the general public accessing the site is included. The information was compiled to inform a conservation and management plan for the site with a view to opening it as a potential tourist venue.
Work in 2017 both extended and intensified the coverage from 2016 and used the experience gained to modify the terrestrial pole equipment. Additional aerial coverage was undertaken both to improve coverage of the motte and bailey and Hill and to place them in a broader landscape setting. The earlier survey date allowed better penetration of the less dense tree canopy.
This report concerns the final, second phase of a survey programme carried out at Round Hill on
behalf of Lismore Heritage Centre who are participants in the Heritage Council ‘Adopt a Monument’
Scheme. The first and second phase surveys have been funded by Heritage Council Community
Report by Kevin Barton and Simon Dowling with a contribution by Kevin O’Callaghan
This paper surveys the principal historical, hagiographical and onomastic sources for the Lismore area with special reference to the Round Hill located in the townland of Ballyea West and civil parish of Lismore. These range in date from the twelfth century (?) hagiography surrounding Saint Cartach or Mochuda of Lismore to the early 19th century Ordnance Survey material. Other significant sources are the annals and related material for the period of the Anglo-Norman conquest of east Munster, temporal records of the lands of the church of Lismore down to the 17th century, records of the Boyle New English plantation of the Lismore area, and several other sources. The target of this research is to find surviving references to SMR monument number WA021-022 and thus elucidate its history.
Report by Dr. Paul MacCotter.