THE remains of up to a dozen people, possible victims of the Great Famine in the 19th Century, have been discovered in a grave in north Galway.
The skeletal remains were uncovered by contractors working on the Tuam Public Water project and archaeologists were immediately called in. The neatly arranged skeletons were discovered close to where an old workhouse stood, on the Athenry Road on the outskirts of Tuam town.
And while a Victorian graveyard is located almost directly across the road, the initial indications are that the remains are more probably linked to the workhouse.
Built to accommodate the starving local population in the late 1840s, the workhouse was demolished in or around 1970 to make way for a local housing estate.
The skeletons were found by workmen in a contained area, and all appeared to have been buried in coffins, rather than just left at random in the ground. Mysteriously, all were discovered facing in a north-south direction.
"Most Christian burials saw the bodies laid in an east-west direction, so we are not sure why they are lying like this," said Galway County Council archaeologist Finn Delaney.
The team of archaeologists has only just starting the work of excavating the remains and is anxious to preserve the site and retain the dignity of the dead from over-eager sightseers.