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In 1957 two local youths, Johnnie Fyfe, Killegar, and John Spotten, Drummercross, discovered a wooden boat lying in about 180cm of water in the mud on the bottom of this lake. They broke pieces off them and brought them for me to see. I recognised that the boat might be very ancient and notified the National Museum who sent an expert to the site. He confirmed that the find was a pre-historic canoe.

I hoped the museum would be able to mount an expedition to raise the boat intact, but the expert informed me that neither the money nor the manpower were available. He downgraded the importance of the find by saying the location of many other such canoes was known. In view of this complete lack of interest, the two youths, unknown to me, subsequently dived repeatedly on the site and brought up any parts of the canoe (probably about 50%) that were not buried in the mud. These quickly disintegrated.

The site of the find, in the eastern corner of the lake, about 60m offshore, was close beside two positions in the lake where (as I had long known) the depth of the water is, in both cases, much less than would be expected: about 75cm instead of 175 cm. The proximity of the dug-out canoe led me to wonder whether this might indicate that Crannógs had existed there. On examination, I found that the bottom for about 4m around these two points, which are some 17m apart, is mostly covered with quite large round stones instead of the mud that would be expected.

Some ten years later, I was approached by a Garda frogman who wanted to know if there was any local area that it might be of interest for him to examine using scuba equipment whilst he was on leave. I told him about the foregoing. The guard (who has since died) carried out a series of dives in the course of which he located and brought ashore, an exceptionally fine saddle quern, which is still in my possession. This, of course, proved conclusively that the two sites had been Crannógs. During a recent investigation, I located another saddle quern on one of the sites, and two or three probable hearth stones. These are lying in about 75cm of water and could be clearly seen from the boat I was using. They have not been disturbed.

Saddle querns were used (for grinding corn) until the Celts arrived and introduced the rotary quern, which soon replaced the earlier, less efficient 'technology'. This proves that the Crannógs, unusually, were pre-celtic, and also that grain was already being grown by 'the first Killagarites'. The sites are in the townlands of Killegar, about 150m from Killegar House.

Lord Kilbracken
Last Updated: March 27, 2012
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