Second find of ancient dug-out canoe in Arklow by same man


FOR THE second time in half a century, the remains of what appears to be a dug-out canoe have been discovered in Arklow, Co Wicklow. In a curious coincidence, both finds were by the same person, local man Peter Dempsey.

The National Museum of Ireland confirmed yesterday that the first discovery made in 1966 was a dug-out canoe which was recorded and photographed by the museum at the time.

Mr Dempsey, who is mayor of Arklow, said he was feeding ducks on the riverbank close to the locally known 19-arch bridge, when he saw the second canoe last Friday.

As the original canoe had been returned to the water after a record was made by the museum, Mr Dempsey said he initially thought his latest discovery was the same canoe.

However, Nessa O’Connor of the National Museum said photographs appeared to suggest it was a second canoe. Ms O’Connor said personnel from the museum would travel to Arklow to view the find, but from an initial perusal of the photographs, she said there was a strong likelihood that it was indeed a canoe.

Fashioned from trees as primitive boats, the canoes could be as much as 5,000 years old. The longest dug-out canoe found in Ireland is currently in the National Museum. With a length of about 56ft, it was found in Co Galway. It is thought it served as a primitive ferry.

While his first find was returned to the water, Mr Dempsey is hopeful space can be found for the latest discovery in the Maritime Museum in Arklow.

The dug-out requires a lot of care and must be kept immersed in water to stop it from drying out and disintegrating. It is currently being looked after in a local house where it is wrapped in wet bed sheets and regularly hosed down

“I think it may have floated down to Arklow after floods in March,” Mr Dempsey said.

The mayor said he had been telling his grandchildren about his 1966 find moments before he went outside to feed ducks on the riverbank and saw the latest find.

“I wondered was it the same canoe or was it part of it, but it seems to be a completely different one,” he said.