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05/11/2004

Irish shipwrecks studied in new book

The first ever study of shipwrecks that lie off the coasts of Ireland has been published by University of Ulster researchers.

‘Boats and Shipwrecks of Ireland’ highlights some of the thousands of sunken vessels that lie beneath the coastal waters of the island.

Many of these important underwater sites have been neglected by scientists for years but now new projects, undertaken by researchers from the Centre for Maritime Archaeology at UU, are beginning to reveal an exciting part of Ireland’s past.

Co-author Dr Colin Breen said: “The coastal waters around the island of Ireland were witness to a millennia of seafaring activity over the years and it is estimated that there are more than 13,000 wrecks around it shores.

“People appear to have first arrived in Ireland by boat from Britain 9,000 years ago and new archaeological evidence is now emerging of the routes they took and the type of vessels they came in. Dugout canoes and vessels covered in animal skins were used to make these crossings and were subsequently used for trading and fishing.”

Wes Forsythe, also from the Centre for Maritime Archaeology at UU, added: “Throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods Ireland saw numerous invasion attempts and naval encounters including the infamous Spanish Armada, which resulted in the loss of 26 ships off the north and west coasts. The underwater investigations of these and many other shipwrecks are described throughout the book.”

(MB/GMCG)

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