Wednesday 7 December 2016

Human bones 'of several individuals' dating back to Famine times found during house renovations near city centre

Published 21/10/2016 | 11:25

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Stock photo

Human bones which may date as far back as Ireland's Great Famine have been discovered at a property in Cork city.

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Builders made the discovery of the remains - believed to be over 150 years old - just outside the city centre on Tuesday afternoon.

The bones were uncovered as the house, located on Stephen's Street, was undergoing renovations at the time.

Gardai were alerted to the discovery and they reached the scene, just off Tower Street, at around 4pm.

The site was then sealed off to facilitate a forensic examination of the area.

Gardai handed the bones over to the local coroner for investigation and initial indications are that the bones could be up to 200 years old.

Carbon dating is required to more accurately establish the age of the remains.

As the bones are not considered part of a criminal investigation, the discovery falls under the remit of the State's archaeological bodies.

UCC's Dr Barra O'Donnabhain, a lecturer in archaeology, said that the bones are currently in the hands of the Cork university.

"The remains were brought in here on Wednesday and we had a look at them," he told independent.ie.

"I checked out the ordnance survey map of the city at the time - the oldest being around 1830 - and there were two hospitals on the map, St Stephens and Royal Hospital. This is located right between where those two once stood."

Dr Barra O'Donnabhain believes that the houses on St Stephen's Street were buit on an old graveyard as when a trench was dug for sewerage pipes, "a couple of individuals were disturbed".

"The remains of a number of individuals were disturbed from the knees down. The trench is not terribly deep but shallow graves were the norm at that time."

The director of the National Museum will have the final say on what will happen to the bones and where they will be relocated to.

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