Sunday 21 July 2019

Coolgreany's Clíodhna leads dig of immense importance

Dr Clíodhna Ní Lionáin at the site in Co. Meath
Dr Clíodhna Ní Lionáin at the site in Co. Meath

Sara Gahan

A Coolgreany-native has discovered a megalithic passage tomb dating back some 5,500 years at the 18th century Dowth Hall in county Meath.

Dr Clíodhna Ní Lionáin, who hails from Plattenstown in Coolgreany, is the lead archaeologist in an excavation project which is being carried out by the agri-technology company Devenish Nutrition in partnership with University College Dublin School of Archaeology.

The discovery, described as 'the find of a lifetime', is within the Brú na Bóinne World Heritage Site. The structural remains of the passage tomb are estimated to date to around 3300 BC.

Two burial chambers have been discovered within the western part of the main passage tomb, over which a large stone cairn was raised. A total of six kerbstones that have been identified so far would have made part of a ring of stones.

One stone is decorated with Neolithic carvings and represents the discovery of megalithic art in Ireland. During the course of the project, two possible satellite tombs were also found.

Works have been ongoing at Dowth Hall since the house and estate were purchased by Devenish Nutrition in 2013. Dr Owen Brennan, Executive Chairman of Devenish Nutrition, is ensuring that the Neolithic discovery will be fully conserved and made accessible to the public, who will be able to visit it during Heritage Week 2018.

Since 2013, Devenish Nutrition has worked with UCD School of Archaeology to carry out research and surveys on the 430 acre Dowth Hall Estate to gain a better understanding of the important archaeological landscape.

Local councillor Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin said this is probably the most significant Irish archaeology find in generations.

'Wholehearted congratulations from the community and county go out to our own Dr Clíodhna Ní Lionáin who hails from a family steeped in heritage and tradition,' said Cllr Ó Súilleabháin.

The tomb discovery at Dowth is in addition to other significant archaeological discoveries made in Brú na Bóinne over recent days, including a large enclosure adjacent to the passage tomb at Newgrange which was discovered using drone photography.

Wicklow People