Children find ancient bones at BallyB Golf Club

The International Bachlor Festival in Ballybunion reached a climax with the selection of Army Private John Dillon from Kildare as the 1979 International Bachelor. Kevin Coleman's photograph shows a happy John being hoisted in the air by his fellow...
The International Bachlor Festival in Ballybunion reached a climax with the selection of Army Private John Dillon from Kildare as the 1979 International Bachelor. Kevin Coleman's photograph shows a happy John being hoisted in the air by his fellow...

AN Expert from the National Museum was this week examining the site of an ancient grave found on Ballybunion golf course by children on Saturday.

A human skeleton nicknamed 'Sammy' was discovered by the children as they played among the sandhills at the far end of the course near the Cashen River.

The find is on the site of a planned 18 hole extension to the internationally recognised golf course.

Deirdre Walsh, 11 year old daughter of Sean Walsh, the Secretary/Manager of Ballybunion Golf Club was with her friends Lilian and Vivien Nolan, aged 14 and 11, when they stumbled on the remains.

They found a complete human skeleton in a 'tomb' protected by a flat rock. The children rushed back to the golf course to tell of their discovery.

Mr Sean Walsh and his wife Colette were sceptical about the children's story as many animal bones had been found there in the past. And it was not until Deirdre's elder brother, Gerard, brought the skull and some other bones to the clubhouse that their story was believed.

Mr Walsh then telephoned the Gardai who took the bones away and reported the matter to the National Museum.

I was shown the remains at Ballybunion Garda Station on Monday. Sergt D McNamara carefully removed the skull from a black plastic bag with a pair of fire tongs to show me the perfectly formed teeth.

Local people who have seen the skull believe it to be very old. Dr Tom Smiddy from Ballyduff who was playing golf at the time of the discovery, saw the skull and and estimated that it was hundreds of years old and was the skull of a young man.

Gerard Walsh, Deirdre Walsh and Vivien Nolan led me to a secluded place in the sandhills where a large stone had been removed to reveal a small tomb, lined with stone and about the length of a human body.

The girls described how they found the skeleton.

"We pulled back the stone and found all the bones. I didn't believe it for a second," said Deirdre Walsh.

When they found that the corpse was probably that of a young man in his 20s they nicknamed him 'Sammy'.

Miss Mary Cahill, an archaeologist with the National Museum's Irish antiquities section was at the site on Wednesday. She said that the museum already had extensive records from the Ballybunion sandhills.

Bronze pins had been discovered in the area in the 1930s, she said, and in 1972 an iron knife had been found there.

"It could be Iron Age, which would make the date around 2000BC or, more likely from 2000BC onwards to 700AD," she said on Tuesday.

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