Geography of Ireland

A day in the life of an Irish Managing Director / Archaeologist

My name is Colm Moloney and I am the Managing Director of Headland Archaeology (Ireland) Ltd. We are one of the larger commercial archaeological companies operating in Ireland.


The office of Headland Archaeology (Ireland) Ltd on Little Island in County Cork

In my working life Fridays tend to be meeting heavy but in July that all changes as the holiday season hits. This Friday (Day of Archaeology) I have a fine balance of some interesting archaeology and quite a lot of commercial activity. Here it is warts n’ all!


I started my day off at 8am in the office in Little island, County Cork preparing a news article for Seanda, the annual archaeology magazine of the Irish National Roads Authority. This summarises a group of 6 corn drying kilns from an amazing Early Christian site in County Tipperary.


At 10am I met with the Business Support Manager to have a look at the mail and discuss the forthcoming week and programming of work. Great news – we won tenders for three fieldwork projects!


Lunch is postponed as the archive for a site I will be writing up over the next year arrives at the office and needs to be stored away carefully. One box contains a complete and intact prehistoric pot. The most amazing things go through this office!


A complete and intact Bronze Age pot delivered to the office today

Next it was straight into an end of month financial review with the accountant and other directors. This involves checking that we have hit our financial targets for the month and then going through our forecasting for finance for the next 12 months. Once the forecasting is complete we meet with the sales team to discuss targets and what work we need to get in to keep the business going steady. While this may seem mundane and boring it is by far the most important part of my job particularly in the midst of a recession.


After lunch is spent working on the Bronze Age chapter for a monograph that we are writing on the archaeology of the N7 Nenagh to Limerick Road scheme for the National Roads Authority. Today I was producing a distribution map of Bronze Age settlements between Limerick city and Nenagh in County Tipperary – I love this part of my job!


This afternoon I have a strategy meeting for our new business – Know Thy Place Ltd. We started this in response to the recession and it is really starting to gather momentum. We are now looking at pushing the service in the USA and todays meeting will focus on how best to achieve this.  I have to admit this is all very exciting and it is great to be doing something positive to fight the recession.


My final tasks of the day involve reviewing the illustrations for an article I have written for the Tipperary County Journal with our Graphics Manager and making a start on a blog post for Know Thy Place on a family of troglodytes who lived in my home town of Midleton, County Cork during the early medieval period.


That was my day, I hope you enjoyed it!

The Lion Tower and other walls, Galway, Ireland

For the first time in the history of the company, Moore Group’s team are not nursing hangovers this morning.

By that I don’t mean that it’s a daily occurrence. No. Today is the day after Ladies Day at the Galway Races. Traditionally we’d take the Thursday off to gamble, carouse and revel, dress in our finery and consume copious bottles of champagne, while we watched the fleets of helicopters land and deposit the more affluent racegoers (back when times were good there would be over 300 helicopters a day flying into the Galway Races). And today has traditionally been our recovery day.

We gave the Races our thirties but like the tycoons, we stayed away this year…

Galway Races

The Galway Races From Samuca’s Photostream

The West of Ireland generally closes down for this week of the year and the week coincides with the ‘builders’ holidays (It’s always struck me as odd that the rest of the Country and Non-Ireland continue as normal), so normally we close down for the Thursday and Friday.

But this year, we’re working like everyone else. Unfortunately the crèche isn’t, so my day of archaeology started with toddler transport and grandparent delivery (ie.. delivery of child to said grandparents – he gets to go the races today!). Fortified now with bacon and coffee, I’m back in my home office and preparing to complete a monitoring report. In recent months we’ve downsized and the remaining 4 Moore’s are working ‘in the cloud’. Three have taken the week as holidays and are relaxing at their respective destinations, save Billy, who, presumably, is busy in his home office writing up the notes from his weeks monitoring in Kells, Co. Meath and putting the final touches to an archaeological assessment of a proposed gas pipeline in Limerick.

The main archaeological feature I’ll be writing about in my report today is a section of the medieval bastion of Galway City which was exposed during excavation works for a gas pipeline in the middle of the city as well as the foundation to an earlier defensive tower called the Lion Tower. The bastion wall was found near the centre of Eglinton Street, between Tower House and Cube or Carbon nightclub (not sure which – they didn’t spell it with an initial K, though I’m sure they were tempted). The adjacent Lion Tower (and if there are Galway peeps reading – it is the Lion Tower and not the Lions Tower) foundation was found roughly 2m to the south east of the wall and consisted of a rubble foundation with an upper course of stone that appeared to be laid in an arc. We interpreted this as representing the circular base of the Lion Tower as depicted on the 1651 Pictorial map of Galway, although we had a very narrow area to work in and all the work was done in the evening with limited light.

The Lion Tower/City Bastion as it was in the 30’s (we encountered the foundations in the roadway this side of the second car and the tower foundation opposite the telephone box)

The bastion wall was in good condition and constituted a substantial foundation measuring approximately 2.6m in width built of roughly hewn limestone rubble blocks bonded with lime mortar. Preliminary work on either side of the wall exposed a fair face with a slight batter along the north west facing elevation, the south east face was more ragged. This section of the polygonal bastion was built around the earlier Lion Tower in 1646.

I normally spend the bulk of my time in the office, dealing with clients and potential clients, preparing prices and tenders, accounts and all that dull stuff. The rest of my time is in the field, monitoring pipelines or other construction related activity, site inspections or site visits for assessments of proposed developments, the occasional excavation (not too many of those around these days), and fieldwalking. My deep fear of animals of any description is a definite disadvantage, but I  persevere – sheep – I’m desperately frightened of sheep, and dolphins.

Twenty years ago, I stumbled into archaeology, 80’s Ireland presented precious little opportunities but an opportunity to work on an excavation came up after University and I was hooked. Of course, I’ve stumbled a few more times since.  Finding things like the bastion makes up for those dull days, as do the days when you find yourself up the top of a mountain, in driving rain, walking through deep bog up to your ankles.

In the early 1960s the late Prof G.A.Hayes-McCoy became a spokesperson for the preservation of the  landmark “Lion Tower” described and pictured above (actually a section of the bastion). The ultimate failure of that campaign was a great disappointment to him and he later said that Ireland was forgetful about its past and that “we don’t bother to find out about it or to maintain our ancient heritage”, and, of Galway; “take my own city of Galway, it is now more prosperous than it was, but it is no longer distinctive. I do not believe that it is essential for progress that we should lose our heritage”.

The Day of Archaeology and other initiatives can help in curing that forgetfulness. Well done to all involved – a fantastic initiative, let’s do it again…