Thursday, November 11, 2004


Awash With History


News Letter
By Clare Weir

Academics in Coleraine have produced the first study of the shipwrecks that lie off the coast of Ireland.

Boats and Shipwrecks of Ireland is the work of researchers from the Centre for Maritime Archaeology at the University of Ulster and highlights some of the thousands of sunken vessels that lie beneath the coastal waters.

Some, such as the ship of the Spanish Armada the Girona, are well documented, but many of the estimated 13,000 underwater sites have been neglected by scientists for years.

Now, however, new projects undertaken by researchers from the UU are beginning to reveal an exciting part of Ireland's past, as coauthor Colin Breen explained.

"People appear to have first arrived in Ireland by boat from Britain 9,000 years ago and new archaeological evidence is now emerging of the routes they took and the type of vessels they came in," he said.

"Dugout canoes and vessels covered in animal skins were used to make these crossings and were subsequently used for trading and fishing.

"The early Irish saints were renowned throughout Europe as sailors and explorers of the waters of the North Atlantic. They were the first to live on Iceland and may have sailed as far as Greenland and North America."

The later arrival of the Vikings had a profound effect on maritime traditions throughout Ireland, he added, with many of their methods of boat building being adopted.

Boats and Shipwrecks of Ireland is published by Tempus Publishing Ltd.

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