Crannóg site revealed after lake's level drops


THE RECENT prolonged dry weather spell which put pressure on water supplies in the west has proven to be good news for archaeologists.

The low water table on the western lakes and rivers has yielded a number of significant finds in Connemara, according to archaeologist Michael Gibbons.

Among them has been a new crannóg site which is part of a complex in the south Connemara area. It was located by Co Galway silversmith and archaeological student Ruairí O’Neill and a friend, John Foley, while exploring Lough Dhúleitir, north of Carna. Mr Gibbons, who lectures on Mr O’Neill’s course, said that it was a “fine example” of a small crannóg. The lake is overlooked by an abandoned 19th-century settlement.

“This is one of a wonderful group of six sites between Carna and Cill Chiaráin,” Mr Gibbons said. The distribution extends from Doon Loughan to Lough na Tulaí near Indreabhán in south Connemara. Crannógs, derived from “crann”, the Irish word for tree, were artificial islands built as dwellings in prehistoric and medieval times on lakes and in estuaries.

“Similar groups of stone crannógs are found in parts of Mayo, west Donegal and throughout the outer Hebrides in western Scotland and they range in date from the neolithic down to the 17th century, with the O’Flaherty’s castle built on top of one such lake dwelling,” Mr Gibbons said.

“They are part of the hidden heritage of the glacially scoured granite lands of south and west Connemara,” he added.

Meanwhile, a team of Irish and US archaeologists hosted an open day in Co Clare last weekend on their work at Lios an Rú, a 19th-century deserted village on a hill above Newtown Castle, Co Clare.

The archaeologists from NUI Galway (NUIG) and the State Museum of the University of New York State are investigating the daily lives and work of families in the Burren before, during and after the Great Famine.

Co-directors are NUIG archaeologist Maggie Ronayne and Prof Charles Orser, professor emeritus at Illinois State University, curator of historical archaeology at the New York State Museum and an adjunct professor at NUIG.

Prof Orser applies both anthropology and archaeology to investigate the lives of men and women ignored by official historical accounts. He will will give a public lecture at NUIG’s summer school programme on “The Archaeology of the Irish Famine” in the D’Arcy Thompson lecture theatre, NUIG on Monday, July 5th, at 6pm.