A bored schoolboy who abandoned his homework to go paddling in a lake uncovered an ancient boat that could be more than 4,000 years old.
The 17ft longboat was lodged in the mud in the lake at the back of 12-year-old Cathal McDonagh’s home in Lisacul, Castlerea, Co Roscommon.
Archaeologists have told the family the ancient vessel could date back as far as 2000 BC.
A team will travel down from Dublin this week to examine the amazing find, which Cathal tripped over as he paddled in shallow water.
While a river may have flowed through the area thousands of years ago, the lake is inland, and is home to at least one crannóg – an ancient artificial island usually built for defensive reasons. They are the oldest dwelling places in prehistoric Ireland.
Cathal’s mother Eileen told the Irish Independent he was supposed to be doing his school work when he made the discovery.
“He was bored and went for a walk down to the lake which is behind our house,” she said.
“He had his wellies on so he was only in above his ankles when he hit upon this. It was that easily found.”
The family – also including his father Peter and siblings Aonghus (15) and Róisin (13) – descended on the lake to retrieve the wreckage. They were stunned to discover the boat was 17.5ft long.
After reporting their find to the Underwater Archaeology Unit, part of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the family were advised to put the boat back in the water to preserve it.
Initial theories suggest that it could date back to the Neolithic age which began 12,000 years ago. But it could also be from the medieval period.