If you discover a wreck over 100 years old during the course of a dive, during construction works, while walking on a beach or in any other circumstance, the discovery must be reported to the National Monuments Service. There is a statutory obligation (under the National Monuments Acts) to report a newly discovered wreck to either the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage through the National Monuments Service or to the Garda Síochána within four days of the find. This is to ensure that the recording and protection of a new wreck or archaeological object can be addressed immediately. The wreck may be under threat of exposure, erosion, deliberate damage or other impact and may need to be assessed to ascertain what steps might need to be taken to ensure its protection.
An early report of the discovery to NMS will enable prompt action to be taken should it be deemed necessary. The reporting of all wrecks will ensure they can be included in the Wreck Database of Ireland (WIID) and associated Wreck Viewer. Inclusion of wrecks in the viewer will assist in their protection by alerting potential developers and users of the sea to the existence of the wreck, wreck-related material or associated archaeological objects that are subject to statutory protection under the relevant legislation.
The incidental discovery of individual artefacts or spreads of material such as anchors, pottery, cannon, ship timbers on the seabed or in the intertidal zone may also be indicators of a wider wreck site or a wreck that may be largely buried. Such finds should be reported to the National Monuments Service or the Garda Síochána if part of a wreck or, in the case of archaeological objects, to the Director of the National Museum of Ireland (NMI). The location should be reported, including, if possible, a GPS co-ordinate in Latitude/Longitude or ITM, along with a description of the find, its location, water depth and any other relevant information. A map or chart marking the location of the find should be supplied where possible.
If you have discovered a new wreck, please contact:
Underwater Archaeology Unit
National Monuments Service
If you have discovered an archaeological object, please contact:
The Duty Officer
National Museum of Ireland
There is also a statutory obligation to report to the Receiver of Wreck, under the Merchant Shipping (Salvage and Wreck) Act 1993, any material recovered from any wreck or any part of a wreck recovered from the sea. The Receiver will then make enquiries with a view to establishing the ownership of the wreck or wreck-related material. In the absence of a known owner, the Director of the National Museum of Ireland can claim wreck material on behalf of the State.