CONSTRUCTION WORKERS demolishing the site of a historic Waterford city pub have found skulls and bones belonging to up to 30 people.
Waterford gardaí were contacted yesterday morning by the construction company, Sisk, regarding the find at the former location of Egan’s Bar on Barronstrand Street.
The workers were clearing the way for an expansion of a neighbouring Penneys outlet; a 40,000 sq ft store is expected to open by Christmas.
Upon inspection, gardaí were satisfied that the remains were found at an old graveyard, buried under the city for centuries.
Sgt Larry Langton said: “Workers who were digging found the bones and we were requested to have a look. We were satisfied that no crime had been committed so it’s nothing to do with us now – the remains definitely weren’t put in there yesterday.
“It looks as if it’s a burial ground; we contacted the coroner [John Goff] immediately,” said Sgt Langton.
Senior planner with Waterford City Council John Andrews said yesterday that he didn’t “know much about it yet”.
The council had requested the services of an archaeologist and would have a clearer idea “once he gets back to us with a report”.
Local historian Jack Burchill said: “That was part of the Blackfriars or Dominican abbey . . . it was founded as a monastic site in 1226. The old Egan’s site was a school and monastery there until it was closed by Henry VIII in 1540.
“That’s one possibility; also after the monastery closed people continued to bury at the site, so it could have been later also,” Mr Burchill added. “So you would need a full archaeological investigation to find anything out.”
Excavation director for the building project Dave Pollock, said: “We are working hand-in-glove with the developer and the demolition people; we are monitoring everything as we go.”
The National Museum and the National Monuments would be officially informed, he said.
“We have to very carefully work out the precise levels of flooring and the underflooring that are going in and take out whatever we can and leave behind whatever we have to.
“We’ve got a piece of the city wall standing two storeys high in the middle of the site and that will be on display in the new shop,” Mr Pollock said.