18 Jan 2022

Offaly divers discover ancient artefacts on bed of River Shannon

A large number of ancient artefacts have been discovered on the bed of the River Shannon over the last 18 months.

Use the arrow in the top corner or swipe to see some of the items found

The finds have been made by Offaly Sub Aqua Club who have come across the objects resting in the dark silt of the murky river.

Noel Guerin of the club said the finds are not the purpose of the club.

“The reason we are diving is we are looking for missing persons. We are not looking for ancient artefacts at all but we happen to come across them as we are going about our work.”

Noel, whose day job is a heating engineer, is originally from Coolderry and lives in Tullamore. He says a lot of divers don't like diving in the Shannon because it is dark and murky but the members of Offaly Sub Aqua don't mind it and have a trained eye for any unusual looking objects that they might see on the river bed.

“Offaly Sub Aqua is part of the country's Search & Recovery system,” said Noel. “The area we cover is from Athlone down to Portumna. We are often out training in the river, surveying it in preparation for the real thing. During our training we are commonly coming upon these fascinating and exciting artefacts.”

He listed off some of the objects which the team of about ten divers has come across over the last year and a half.
They include:

- An Irish spear, maybe just after the Viking era, perhaps about 800 to a thousand years old.
- A Neolithic polished stone axe, about 6,000 years old.
- Six medieval swords.
- Three Bronze Age spears.
- Several guns, including 18th Century muskets and pistols.
- Five log boats (probably Stone Age - a type of canoe - used by hunter/gatherers).
- Three Irish battle axes.
- A Gallowglass helmet (13th to 16th Century).
- Shields.

The log boats will be examined but won't be taken out of the river. They will be left where they were found.

All of the discoveries are handed over to the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.

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