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Loch Lurgan ---> Galway Bay

Loch Lurgan is the original name for Galway bay and remains its name in Irish to this day. It is referenced in old annals as being one of the 3 largest lakes in Ireland once upon a time. This simple fact corrorborates the theory that the Aran Islands were once connected to each other and to the Clare coast and formed the southeren boundary of what was an inland lake called Loch Lurgan. No other explanation will account for it.

The question posed by this website, therefore, is simple. Are these massive ancient Dúns on the three Aran Islands today 'leftovers' from of a titantic struggle that took place, over a long period, approx 5,500 years ago, between the inhabitants and the ocean? Did the sea rise to such an extent that large areas of coastal land and lakes were swallowed by the Atlantic ocean. Are these Dúns the last trace of an ancient people's efforts to save themselves from inundation on a scale unknown today. I believe that they are and as I explain elsewhere on this site I believe they are ideally suited to the purpose of defence against tidal and tsunami waves.

Irish mythology tells us that Loch Lurgan was a lake at one time. Geological and historical facts tell us that there was an ice sheet over much of Europe about 10,000 years ago which slowly melted and released a massive volume of water into the Atlantic. Various estimates have been made of the amount of coastline that was inundated on both sides of the Atlantic - anything up 30 or 40 miles. Irish mythology also talks about floods! The first Christians to Ireland (most likely on the West coast) would have found a people with a folk memory of floods, perhaps even a culture founded upon it. These people would have been reassured by the biblical explanation of the 'Deluge'. Who could blame them given their folk memories of coastal inundation over generations? The speed with which Christianity took root in Ireland is perhaps a testament to this fact. Slowly with the passage of time and the arrival of the Christian scribes, the flood lore of the ancient Irish ironically found itself submerged by the Bibliclal 'Deluge', obliterating the distinction between the two events.

So how does one marry the facts with the evidence left behind after all these years? Standing amongst the Aran Dúns, it is difficult, today, to comprehend or believe that the sea could reach such heights as to be able to swamp the land that existed at that time to the south and west of the Islands. Sea level today is about 100m lower than the highest point and it is therefore hard to imagine it rising sufficiently to ovecome the coast and spill into the Loch. But rise it did, leading to the creation of Galway Bay and the loss of a large amount of land along the western seaboard of Ireland.

The main page of this website describes the process of isostasy and how the land under the icesheet would have been depressed. When the ice melted, this depression would slowly unwind over a timespan of several thousand years causing the land to lift. Therefore land levels would have been up to 100m lower than they today. This fact must be born in mind when trying to visualize 6000 year old sea levels!

The rest of this website offers explanations and evidence to back up the theory. On this page I just want to mention in particular Loch Lurgan and some facts to substantiate it being a lake about 5,500 years ago. Most geologists accept that sea levels were lower 7 - 10 thousand years ago and it does not take a massive leap of imagination to understand that Loch Lurgan was a lake at one time. And if we accept the existence of a lake then we must concede that the Aran Islands formed part of its Southern boundary along with adjoining land now under the Atantic.

The only question to be answered therefore is about how and when the sea roared into Loch Lurgan and united it with the Atlantic Ocean? Only scientific research can accurately throw light on this, but I believe we are extremely lucky to have several important testimonials to the duration and type of process involved. These testimonials are, of course, the massive stone forts, in Aran and all along the West coast of Ireland. Continual loss of land to the sea and a well earned respect for the power of the ocean was a fact of life with these people and they prepared themselves for the worst. Just as today people build nuclear shelters, the people in those times built flood wave shelters! County Clare has an abundance of them.

Lake evidence:

1. In 2002/03 a hollowed out log boat was found in Barna strand at low tide. The boat was dated to 5,500 years ago and is clear evidence of trees and canoes being used around that time. A hollowed out canoe would not have been useful in choppy seas and it is reasonable to assume this canoe operated when Galway Bay was a lake surrounded by forrests. In contrast with ancient times, the landscape around Barna and on the north shore of Galway Bay is today stoney and barren with very little soil cover.

2. It is well know from finding of tree stumps under the margins of Galway Bay that the area was afforested at one time. Locals have always been aware that the northern part of the bay was at one time heavily forested based on evidence of tree stumps in Galway Bay.

3. Pollen analysis also make it clear that in prehistoric times, pine and oak trees grew in abundance on the west coast of Ireland. The stumps of these trees are to be found in cut-away bogs throughtout Connemara.