Our coastline from Kinvarra to Inishbofin is one of the most varied and extensive in all of Ireland. Together with over 50 islands and Ireland's only fjord at Killary Harbour, it offered a huge diversity of settlement options over the last eight thousand years.
This talk will highlight some of the hundreds of new sites that have been identified and outline the research opportunities that these discoveries present. Among the new discoveries is one of the largest complexes of shell middens yet documented along the sheltered bays of inner Galway Bay. In the same area, aerial photography has revealed one of the largest and best-preserved seaweed farms in the country and an early tidal mill complex. To the west along the tangled coastline from Cois Fhairraige to Inislackan near Roundstone, winter storms have thrown up numerous examples of stone axe from a now submerged Mesolithic landscape that still survives beneath the shallow sheltered waters of Ceantair na nÓileáin. The same storms revealed a bronze age trackway at lippa and a range of early monastic and medieval burial grounds. Important early field systems and later harbours have been discovered on Aran and Inishbofin and hundreds of vernacular quays from the boom time of the Kelp Age. With scores of intertidal holy wells, at times accompanied by stone boats and intertidal saints roads are illustrative of a living Pilgrimage tradition. All of these sites combine to give us an unrivalled Maritime Heritage.
About Michael Gibbons
Michael Gibbons is hugely experienced field archaeologist. Born and raised in Clifden, Connemara where he still lives with his family, Michael is a graduate of University College Galway with a degree in History and Archaeology. He is a long standing member of the Institute of Irish Archaeology and has a wide and broad range of managerial, field and publishing experience and has spent over thirty-five years mapping the archaeology of Ireland as was well as gaining invaluable experience from working abroad In Negev Desert, Sinai, Greece and for the London Museum. He completed a 5 year term on the Archaeology Committee of the Heritage Council. In Ireland, he worked on the Donegal Archaeological Survey and Galway Archaeological Survey before being appointed as co-director of the National Sites and Monuments Record, Office of Public Works for a period of ten years. While Co-Director of the Sites and Monuments Record Office he pioneered the integration of traditional cartographic and historical research with aerial photographic and computer storage and retrieval techniques to locate, map and describe archaeological sites. This survey covered sixteen counties. He has directed surveys and excavations on Croagh Patrick and has mapped the uplands and islands of the Connacht Coast. He is served for a time with Comhairle Bhéaloideas Éireann – The Folklore of Ireland Council, to which he was nominated by the Minister for Education.
He remains an archaeologist in private practice and is involved in heritage tourism. He makes regular contributions to archaeological and historical conferences in Ireland as well as delivering lectures to local archaeological and historical societies both at home and abroad as well as contributing to archaeological and maritime programmes on local and national radio.
Michael is a member of the Nautical Archaeology Society and his current research interests include the archaeology of Irish uplands and islands, in particular the maritime pilgrimage tradition. He is a founder member of the Croagh Patrick Archaeology Committee, which carries out research on Ireland’s sacred mountains and uplands. He has carried out detailed research on some of the most important maritime pilgrimage islands; including Skellig Michael World Heritage Site, St MacDara’s Island Inishglora and Caher Island. Recent archaeological work has included mapping the intertidal zone of the Galway and North-Burren Coast with a particular focus on the prehistoric midden complexes, vernacular quays, harbours and seaweed farms.
Michael has extensive experience conducting archaeological impact assessments and heritage impact assessments as part of the EIA process.
His most recent community heritage project both as a promotor and as project archaeologist concerned the redevelopment of the 300 acre state owned site of the Marconi Wireless Station at Derrygimlagh, Clifden as heritage Park. This project under the direction of Lead Researcher Shane Joyce was a pioneering project with a global reach in the field of Radio Archaeology.