© Joe O’Shaughnessy
Remains of an oak trackway, estimated to be between 3,500 and 4,500 years old, on the shore near Furbo, Co Galway.
Fragments of an oak trackway suggesting human habitation have been found within the 7,500-year-old "drowned forest" on the north Galway shoreline.
The track could be between 3,500 and 4,500 years old, and may have been built when the sea level was rising and was gradually enveloping the forest that pre-dated Galway Bay.
NUI Galway (NUIG) geologist Prof Mike Williams, who has researched the "drowned forest", comprising a layer of peat and tree stumps uncovered by the winter storms, examined the trackway or "togher" this week.
He was alerted to it by a Spiddal resident, Alan Keogh, who discovered it when walking on the south-east Connemara shore.
Mr Keogh said that he had heard about the drowned forest, recently reported in this newspaper, and recognised the significance of what appeared to be a "symmetrical structure" below a line of peat, about 1.5m by 1m.
"Together with the Bearna canoe, this is the first evidence of human habitation within these forests and lagoons in this area," said Prof Williams.
"It could have been built during the late Neolithic or early Bronze age era, and may have been ceremonial or may have been built across wetland which was decaying forest, forming into bog."