Home > Shipwreck Database

Shipwreck Database

Shipwreck Inventory of Ireland

  • The Underwater Archaeology Unit (UAU) is engaged in the preparation of an inventory of shipwrecks recorded in Irish waters. The Shipwreck Inventory of Ireland includes all known wrecks for the years up to and including 1945 and approximately 12,000 records have been compiled and integrated into the shipwreck database thus far.
  • The Shipwreck Inventory is principally a desktop survey with information gathered from a broad range of cartographic, archaeological and historical sources, both documentary and pictorial. An inventory of wrecks covering the coastal waters off counties Louth, Meath, Dublin and Wicklow was published in 2008.
  • The Shipwreck Inventory of Ireland archive is currently available for consultation by prior arrangement in the offices of National Monuments Service Archive, Room G62, Custom House, Dublin 1. The archive is open to the public every Friday between the hours of 10am and 5pm.
  • To make an appointment please contact the Archive either by telephone (01) 8883922 (from Ireland) / +353 1 8883922 (from outside Ireland) or by email nmarchive@ahg.gov.ie

Underwater and Marine Archaeology

  • Ireland has a rich underwater material cultural heritage which includes such well known discoveries as the Spanish Armada shipwrecks dating from 1588 off the north and west coasts and the 1796 French Armada shipwreck in Bantry Bay. Other recent finds have included an early medieval bridge at the great monastery of Clonmacnoise, Co. Offaly as well as fragments of books, shrines and crosses from midland lakes.
  • First established as the Maritime Survey Unit in 1997 to quantify Ireland's shipwreck heritage, in 2000 the Underwater Archaeology Unit (UAU) was established within the National Monuments Service to manage and protect Ireland's underwater cultural heritage, and in particular to quantify the underwater resource, undertake survey and enforcement and to assess development impacts in order to manage this aspect of Ireland's heritage.
  • The UAU has recently undertaken several surveys and excavations of archaeological sites.  These include:
  • - the 1588 Spanish Armada wreck La Trinidad Valencera at Rutland Island in Co. Donegal;
  • - the early 16th century Drogheda Boat wreck in the River Boyne, Co. Louth;
  • - the early-medieval crannog in Lough Derryvaragh, Co. Westmeath; and
  • - the early-medieval bridge at Clonmacnoise, Co. Offaly.
  • Rutland Island Shipwreck, Co. Donegal
  • Wrecks over 100 years old and archaeological objects found underwater are protected under the National Monuments (Amendment) Acts 1987 and 1994. Significant wrecks less than 100 years old can be designated by Underwater Heritage Order on account of their historical, archaeological or artistic importance as is the case with the wreck of the Co. Cork RMS Lusitania located off Kinsale Head. Underwater Heritage Orders can also be used to designate areas of seabed or land covered by water to more clearly define and protect wreck sites and archaeological objects.
  • Under the legislation all diving on known protected wreck sites or with the intention of searching for archaeological underwater material is subject to licensing requirements.