Sunday 16 June 2019

Major historical find on the Boyne

John Murphy and Ivan Murphy at the Boyne River where they found the boat.
John Murphy and Ivan Murphy at the Boyne River where they found the boat.

ONE of the ancient wonders of the Boyne Valley was discovered in a silt bed on the river Boyne close to Drogheda. And experts did not rule out the possibility that the find, a dugout canoe, could be 5,000-years-old and used to ferry stone for the cairn during the building of Newgrange, just a short distance up stream.

The canoe, which is in almost perfect condition, was inspected by two archaeologists from the National Museum of Ireland.

They expressed delight and surprise at the discovery with the make of the canoe something they have not come across before in this country.

Two local fishermen, Ivan Murphy from Rosehall and Kevin Tuite from Rathmullen, made the discovery and contacted the National Museum, realising their find was a special one.

'We spotted it in the water and I turned it over and we discovered it was a canoe. It was incredible to see and I immediately covered it again and we contacted the museum,' Ivan stated.

The discovery was made east of the Boyne Cable Bridge and it is unsure how it got there.

' It may have been lying there for years but we are down on the Boyne quite a bit and didn't notice it before so it may have floated down in the tide from further up stream,' Ivan added. 'It must weight at least 30st. I went over to try and lift it and it would take four men to shift it.'

Ivan was intrigued by the find and did his own internet investigation, discovering that one of the oldest dugout canoes dates back up to 8,000 years and was found in a bog in Holland. It is now on display in the museum of Assen.

The Boyne canoe is 3m long and 61cm wide and is a very unusual shape, suggesting that it may have been used as a one man vessel or as a transporter.

Carl Brady from the Underwater Section of the National Museum, who was on the scene when the canoe was hauled ashore for the first time, perhaps since the time of the construction of the great pyramids of Egypt, stated that he had unearthed nine canoes in his time with the museum but this one was 'absolutely' unique.