Ballyhanna reveals new insights into the past

New book to be launched offers fascinating revelations brought to light following excavation of one of the largest collections of medieval burials ever undertaken in Ireland.

Ballyhanna reveals new insights into the past

An exciting new book on one of the country's most important archaeological finds will be launched in Ballyshannon on March 30.

State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy will officialy launch The Science of a Lost Medieval Gaelic Graveyard: The Ballyhanna Research Project at 6pm on Wednesday, March 30 in the Abbey Arts Centre, Ballyshannon.

The book tells the discovery in 2003 of a graveyard and the foundations of a small forgotten stone church at Ballyhanna, Ballyshannon.

The find was unearthed at archeaological works carried out in conjunction with the building of the N15 Ballyshannon-Bundoran bypass.

This led to the excavation of one of the largest collections of medieval burials ever undertaken in Ireland. The remains of more than 1,200 individuals were removed from the site. Their burials had taken place across 1,000 years, through the entire Irish medieval period.

The discovery led to the establishment of a cross-border research collaboration - the Ballyhanna Research Project - between Queen's University Belfast and the Institute of Technology, Sligo, which has shed a phenomenal amount of light on this lost Gaelic graveyard.

The book shows how cutting edge scientific research may aid our undertanding and interpretation of archaeology and reveal new insights into past societies. For example, the use of ancient DNA analysis represented the first biomolecular archaeological evaluation of a medieval population to date and provided evidence that cystic fibrosis was much less prevalent in the medieval period than today.

The Science of a Lost Medieval Gaelic Graveyard is about a community who lives in Gaelic Ireland, about their lifestyles, health and diet. It tells us of their deaths and of their burial traditions, and it reveals the ebb and flow of their lives.

Michael Nolan, the chief excecutive of Transport Infrastructure Ireland will be among the speakers at the launch, along with the books editors Catriona J McKenzie, Eileen M Murphy and Colm J Donnelly.

Admission to the launch is free. All welcome.