Sunday 21 December 2014

Bronze Age sword recovered from River Shannon

Driving club finds third ancient artifact

Jonathan O’Meara and Sarah Stack

Published 14/08/2014 | 12:30

Shannonside Sub Aqua diver Michael O'Rourke pictured with the 3,500-year-old Bronze Age sword he recovered from the Shannon near Banagher Offaly.
The Bronze Age sword recovered from the river Shannon near Banagher, Offaly.
Shannonside Sub Aqua diver Michael O'Rourke and the diving unit pictured with the 3500 years old Bronze Age sword he recovered from the Shannon near Banagher Offaly.

A Bronze Age sword believed to be 3,500-years-old has been recovered by a diver from the River Shannon.

The priceless artifact was picked up by Micheal O Ruairc, of Shannonside Sub Aqua  in Banagher, Co Offaly, last night.

It is believed to date back to the 1050 BC.

Photographs of the sword have been examined by Dr Andy Halpin, assistant keeper of Irish Antiquities at the National Museum.

“The sword found in the river Shannon near Banagher is a Bronze Age sword that dates back anywhere from between 1050 to 1500 BC,” he said.

“It most likely to be 3500-years old.”

The Shannonside Sub Aqua Club previously discovered Viking and Celt Swords from the Shannon.

“We know that there is a lot of historical evidence of Viking activity on the Shannon in the 9th and 10th centuries, however from the 10th century onwards, there is also evidence that Irish kings especially Brian Boru had ships on the Shannon,”  Dr Halpin added.

Mr O Ruairc, a Banagher native, stumbled on the artifact during a routine search and recovery exercise.

The experienced diver said he was over the moon to discover such an important piece of Irish history.

“Two of my diving buddies who are also members of Shannonside Sub Aqua Club have recovered period swords from the river Shannon over the last number of years so I’m delighted to have eventually have found one myself,” he said.

The National Museum of Ireland are currently exhibiting a 1000-year-old Viking sword that was also found Banagher in 2012 as part of an exhibition to commemorate the Battle of Clontarf at the National Museum of Ireland. The exhibition runs until the end of December at its Museum of Archaeology on Kildare Street, Dublin.

The driving club announced its latest historic find on its Facebook page last night.

“We struck lucky again !!!!!” it said.

“This time, it was Micheal O Ruairc’s turn to find a period sword from the River Shannon.

“He picked himself up a pristine 3,500 year old Bronze Age Sword .

“The National Museum should really consider giving our divers a full time position in their underwater unit.”

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