The Tholsel, Fethard, Co. Tipperar


Bluett & O'Donoghue (led by Michael O'Boyle, Grade 1 Conservation Architect) prepared a conservation-led feasibility report illustrating the preliminary design proposals for the restoration, re-use and presentation of his early-seventeenth century almshouse as a community-based tourism resource, proposing to mix tourism and community-based uses for the historic building. The initial brief included a foyer and reception area opening onto the Main Street; a combined cafe and tourism information center with access to a first floor rear terrace (overlooking the Holy Trinity Church and the Town Walls and Mural Tower to the south); a flexible exhibition space to facilitate the creation and exhibition of local crafts and larger art exhibitions; office space for local community groups.(including the Fethard Historical Society); a continuation of the long-established Country Market on the site; and the provision of toilets and disabled access. The approach involving the maintenance and conservation of the historic building to the highest standards in accordance with the best conservation practice with the integrity of surviving features to be respected. The character and origins of the building to be highlighted and incorporated into the visitor experience. Short-term interventions that might preclude the restoration of character in the longer term were to be avoided. we led consultations with key stakeholders - including National Monuments, the Department of Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and the local historical society. The first phase of the project involved conservation and repair of the building fabric, together with the installation of plumbing, heating, a lift and electrics (completed 2015). The second phase involved the fit-out as a museum and visitor center highlighting the history of Fethard and the town's links to the equestrian and bloodstock industry (completed May 2017). This included coordination of the exhibition design to ensure that a balance was achieved between the interpretive installations and the fabric and features of this very historic building.