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12 January 2006
A highway to the past of Ireland

The eighteen kilometre stretch of modern roadway, which will stretch from the Swinford bypass to Carracastle, west of Ballaghaderreen (Co. Mayo, Ireland), has unearthed what is described as a 'treasure trove' of archaeological material. Indications of prehistoric settlements have been unearthed at Cloonaghboy (Swinford); Sonnagh (Charlestown); Madogue (Swinford) and Castleduff (Carracastle). But a site at Lowpark, near the GAA pitch at Charlestown, is a double delight. It was apparently a settlement during the Neolithic (2.500 years BCE) as well as during the early Christian (500-900 CE) periods. A fifteen metre long souterrain or underground passage probably built for refuge during times of cattle raids, is one of the main features of the Lowpark site.
     Items found at Lowpark and other locations along the new stretch of bypass include pottery, stone tools, pieces of flint; a bronze ringpin; lignite bracelets and glass beads. A cooking trough preserved in peat at Sonnagh, Charlestown was in exceptional condition, according to archaeologists. Also found were weapons of hunting and war including an arrowhead in perfect condition. "It is in perfect condition one of the best examples of a mudstone arrowhead I have ever seen," Richard Gillespie, senior archaeologist on the site said. Mr. Gillespie added: "Going by its size, this was a high value site situated on elevated countryside with good vantage points over the surrounding countryside. There were no human remains found."

Source: The Connaught Telegraph (12 January 2006)

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