Ireland has been subjected to a barrage of wind and rain over recent weeks but these recent storms that have battered Ireland’s countryside and coastlines have revealed an archaeological treasure amidst the devastation to surrounding properties and landscape.
The storms have exposed evidence of life on the Emerald Isle dating back to the Neolithic period on Connemara’s Omey island. Large linear archaeological deposits of up to a meter thick have been exposed on the western and northern shorelines of the tidal island off Claddaghduff.
It has been reported in some Irish newspapers that two sets of medieval burial sites, traces of sunken dwellings and parts of a Neolithic bog which had been covered over for millennia by shifting sands, have been exposed.
Local archaeologist Michael Gibbons, based in Clifden, has classified the weather impact on Omey as “spectacular,” but says that many important archaeological features, such as midden deposits, have been destroyed along the Atlantic rim in the “severe beating of Connacht’s coastal dunes” since the middle of December.
Out on Omey in recent days, as winds and swell began to ease, Mr Gibbons confirmed that sand-cliff sections up to 100 meters long had revealed the archaeological deposits from Irish history.
The burial sites now visible were part of a medieval settlement excavated in the 1990’s by Prof Tadhg O’Keeffe of University College Dublin, when an earlier storm revealed traces of a monastic enclosure, he said.
These traces of sunken houses date from the 18th and 19th centuries, while the churning up of an ancient bog by recent tidal surges has turned blue sea to brown. Mr Gibbons estimates the bog, at the base of the sand cliffs, to be at least 6,000 years old.