Monday 22 December 2014

Rich archaeological treasure

Published 15/02/2002 | 00:11

DIGGING DEEP . . . archaeologists at work on the possible Bronze Age enclosure at Kilsharvan. Photos courtesy Ian Russell/Archaeological Consultancy Services.
A burial found at the Claristown dig by Archaeological Consultancy Services.

The journal of Meath Archaeological and Historical Society (MAHS), edited by Séamus MacGabhann of NUI Maynooth, offers a sparkling array of material ranging...

THE splendid heritage of Drogheda and County Meath yields a rich treasure that is magnificently captured in the 2002 volume of Ríocht na Midhe.

The journal of Meath Archaeological and Historical Society (MAHS), edited by Séamus MacGabhann of NUI Maynooth, offers a sparkling array of material ranging from the Neolithic down to work by Francis Ledwidge and novelist, Brian Keenan.

It will be launched by Professor George Eogan in St Patrick’s Classical School, Navan on Wednesday, February 20 at 7pm.

The exciting archaeological excavations on the route of the new M1 motorway at Drogheda are the focus of the first six articles. Professor George Eogan, in his introductory piece, notes that he has never seen such a huge excavation, ‘a great slice into the landscape, up to 12 miles in length and 100 yards in width’, on which as many as 100 archaeologists worked at any one time.

With matchless authority, Professor Eogan sketches the context of this momentous development. Participating archaeologists then present a series of concise reports.

Teresa Bolger expertly records three Neolithic and Bronze Age sites at Rathmullan. Linda Clarke and Donald Murphy report on a Bronze Age enclosure at Lagavooren. A cairn and cemetery at Claristown, with remains ranging from Neolithic to early Christian, are the focus of Ian Russell, Matt Mossop and Eoin Corcoran, all of Archaeological Consultancy Services Drogheda.

Meanwhile, both Mr Russell and Mr Corcoran also report on a possible Bronze Age enclosure at Kilsharvan. Dáire O’Rourke outlines the crucial code of practice observed by the National Roads Authority in respect of archaeology in the critical context of road development. Professor Maurice Harmon provides an arresting alternative on motorway construction in his fine poem ‘The North Road’.

The noted local historical Enda O’Boyle presents an eloquent record of inscriptions from gravestones in Duleek Old Churchyard and St Cianán’s Church of Ireland Church. Trinity College lecturer, Dr Helen Cooney of Slane, explores sensitively the profound depths which she discerns in the delicate verse of the tragic Francis Ledwidge. The eventful story of historic Ardbraccan, near Navan, is unfolded by Tony Coogan.

Ríocht editor Séamus MacGabhann ranges from Brian Keenan’s novel Turlough to Jonathan Swift’s poetry in examining the Anglo-Irish reception of Turlough O’Carolan’s music. Author Danny Cusack writes from Murdoch University in Perth on the fascinating Paddy Lynch of Moynalty, Co Meath who became president of the Australian National Parliament from 1932 to 1938.

The Meath Archaeological and Historical Society’s latest offering carries an attractive selection of book reviews, some with strong Drogheda interest. The Very Reverend Gerard Rice elaborates authoritatively upon Harold O’Sullivan’s History of Local Government in the County of Louth and on James Garry’s Clogher Head through the Ages. Historian Thomas O’Connor evaluates Gerard Rice’s notable history Norman Kilcloon 1171 - 1700. Marie MacSweeney reviews John Gilroy’s ‘Tlachtga Celtic Fire Festival’.

Ríocht editor Séamus MacGabhann pays warm tribute to The Drogheda Banners by Moira Corcoran and Peter Durnin, in addition to reviewing Conor Brennan’s Bits and Pieces of Yellow Furze Parish and Professor Michael Herity’s excellent edition of O’Donovan’s work in The Ordnance Survey Letters of Meath.

The journal features a touching obituary of the renowned archaeologist Leo Swan of Lobinstown, who died last year. This vivid and evocative piece is contributed by Leo’s brother Professor Desmond Swan.

In the past eight years, Ríocht na Midhe has published well over 100 articles and also numerous book reviews, furnishing a rich archive on the history and culture of the extensive Meath-Westmeath region, from the Irish Sea to the Shannon.

The journal has highlighted some of the most original and mould-breaking research done recently in Ireland and it continues as a distinguished forum for the latest innovative findings from an array of disciplines.

Ríocht na Midhe is available from bookshops and from Oliver Ward, MAHS Secretary, Nobber, Co Meath.

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