Ancient boat discovered in local lake ‘may be thousands of years old’

A log boat which was recently found by a 12-year-old Lisacul boy could date back thousands of years. Archaeologists will scrutinise the ancient boat over the coming weeks.

The exciting discovery was made by Cathal McDonagh of Lisacul, Castlerea, Co. Roscommon when he went paddling in a lake beside the family home.

Cathal’s mum, Eileen, told the Roscommon People: “Cathal just went for a walk down to the lake (Cloonacolly)…he had his wellies on, and did some paddling. Then he felt something under his foot, he knew it was more than a log. He came straight back up to the house and was very excited about it!”

Cathal’s family – his brother Aonghus (15), sister Róisín (13), and parents Eileen and Peter – went to see for themselves what Cathal had encountered.

It was apparent to them that a substantial object was in the water. “We could feel the outline of it” Eileen says. At this point the family didn’t realise that it was an ancient boat. The vessel, still underwater, was laden down with sand. Seeing it, much less extracting it from the water, would take considerable effort, and time.

“After several attempts we were able to scoop out the sand with our hands. But it was a slow exercise, and we were being careful, treating it with care. Then last week, we went back down and this time we brought a ratchet strap. Cathal and his dad manoeuvred the strap under the structure and were able to dislodge it”.

When they were finally able to remove it from the water, they realised that it was an old log boat,  which is in remarkably good condition.

The McDonaghs reported the discovery to the Underwater Archaeology Unit (part of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht). Initial feedback suggests that it is a log boat which could date from thousands of years ago, perhaps from the Neolithic Age (which began 12,000 years ago) or from the Medieval Period (5th to the 15th century). As Covid-19 restrictions ease, the boat will be examined by archaeologists.

Although the discovery is extremely exciting, and such discoveries are quite rare, there is a history of boats such as this one turning up on the lake in question! Records show that two ‘dug-out canoes’ were also found in Cloonacolly Lough in circa 1922!

As to this more recent discovery, the McDonagh family are now looking forward to finding out more about the historic vessel which has been hidden away through the centuries, only to emerge back into the spotlight during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Eileen says: “We have now submerged the boat under water again, in order to protect it. We are looking forward to when the archaeologists can call and examine it. It will be interesting to find out everything about it!”