Supporting Local News

Waterways Ireland protects Portumna treasure trove from ‘piracy threat’!

There’s loot in them there rivers! 

Waterways Ireland has moved to protect from piracy a potential treasure trove of artefacts beneath the River Shannon near Portumna.

It comes following a ‘significant’ archaeological find underwater, as authorities carry out further assessments.

The State body tasked with management of inland waterways has designated a ‘restricted area’ of the river between Ballymacegan Island in Tipperary and Tiranascragh, Co Galway.

This order, issued by the Inspector of Navigation Paddy Harkin (pictured), designated it a restricted area under the National Monument (Amendment) Act 1987.

This means it was off limits for deep-water divers, and it was an offence to “tamper with, damage or remove any part of a wreck or any archaeological object”.

A spokesperson for Waterways Ireland told the Connacht Tribune the notice related to Ballymacegan Island 7km upstream of Portumna Bridge, and was issued to “protect the underwater heritage”.

“The area contains multi-period archaeological material, in particular historic wrecks, and archaeological objects,” it said.

Sources in the National Monuments Service confirmed there was a significant discovery underwater by the Underwater Archaeological Unit, which was under the remit of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

One source said there were ‘sensitivities’ surrounding the remains, which span a number of centuries.

“They have discovered a significant amount of material but there may be more there. They’re still doing assessments on some of the artefacts they have uncovered. It is quite a significant find,” a source said.

In the designated area people are now restricted from doing, “diving, survey or salvage operations directed to the detection, location or exploration of a wreck or archaeological object or to recovering it or a part of it from, or from under, the sea bed or from land covered by water, as the case may be, or use equipment constructed or adapted for any purpose of diving, survey or salvage operations” within the restricted area.

According to the notice, it was also an offence to obstruct access to the site or damage any part of a wreck or object that lies within the site.

“Waterways Ireland thanks its customers for their co-operation in relation to this matter,” Mr Harkin said in Waterways Ireland’s public notice.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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