17 November, 2023

What’s cooking? Military Kitchen at Tully Park

Our inhouse archaeobotanist, Roisín Ó Droma, has published an article in the Journal of Irish Archaeology (Volume XXXII, 2023), which is fresh off the press this week. It provides an insight into food and fuel from a Napoleonic-Era Military Kitchen in Ireland dating from the 1790s. Excavations were carried out by IAC in 2022 (Duffy et al. 2022), in advance of the second phase of Tully Park in Cherrywood for Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council. These revealed the truncated subsurface remains of a military kitchen; the second such feature to be discovered associated with he former military camp at Laughanstown  DU026-127 (McQuade and Clancy 2005).

A military kitchen from this period is a unique earthen structure which takes the shape of a roughly circular ditch with many hearths cut into the internal bank. The number varies, though our Irish examples at Tully Park had 17-18 hearths each. One man would have cooked food for his tent-mates of roughly 10 men at one hearth, meaning that one kitchen of 18 hearths could feed 180 men.

Analysis of both the seeds and charcoal remains retrieved during our excavation was undertaken to shed light on what species of plants were being eaten, as part of the food, or burned, as fuel for the fires of the military kitchen. The trees that were used as fuel can also help to provide an understanding of the local environment. As sites of this type are not common, the environmental analysis of such a site has not yet been published for Ireland. The botanical remains were identified and compared with the historical records of the site. The kitchen size was also compared with other excavated military kitchens in England, France, the Netherlands and the USA.

This study added valuable information to both the historical narrative and the local landscapes of a Napoleonic camp at the outerskirts of Dublin City.

Further Reading

O’Droma, R. 2023. First glimpses into the food and fuel from a Napoleonic-era military kitchen in Ireland. JOurnal of Irish Archaeology, XXXII, 123-130. Available from Wordwell.

Duffy, P., McIlreavy, D. and Delaney, S. 2022. Preliminary report on archaeological excavations at Tully Park, Cherrywood SDZ Laughanstown, Dublin 18 (Licence No. 19E0275ext). Unpublished report prepared by IAC Archaeology submitted to the National Monuments Service.

McQuade, M. and Clancy, P. 2005. Laughanstown’s army kitchen. Archaeology Ireland 19 (3), 8.

Reconstruction drawing of Kitchen 11 at Tully Park by Phillip Armstrong (image courtesy of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council Heritage Office, part of the ‘Illustrating Cherrywood Project’ funded by the Heritage Council and Creative Ireland).