Carrigallen, County Leitrim, Ireland

Crannógs

In 1957 two local youths, Johnnie Fyfe, Killegar, and John Spotten, Drummercross, discovered a wooden boat lying in about 180cm of water in the mud on the bottom of this lake. They broke pieces off them and brought them for me to see. I recognised that the boat might be very ancient and notified the National Museum who sent an expert to the site. He confirmed that the find was a pre-historic canoe.

I hoped the museum would be able to mount an expedition to raise the boat intact, but the expert informed me that neither the money nor the manpower were available. He downgraded the importance of the find by saying the location of many other such canoes was known. In view of this complete lack of interest, the two youths, unknown to me, subsequently dived repeatedly on the site and brought up any parts of the canoe (probably about 50%) that were not buried in the mud. These quickly disintegrated.

The site of the find, in the eastern corner of the lake, about 60m offshore, was close beside two positions in the lake where (as I had long known) the depth of the water is, in both cases, much less than would be expected: about 75cm instead of 175 cm. The proximity of the dug-out canoe led me to wonder whether this might indicate that Crannógs had existed there. On examination, I found that the bottom for about 4m around these two points, which are some 17m apart, is mostly covered with quite large round stones instead of the mud that would be expected.

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