Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the progress that has been made through mapping and other means by his Department’s underwater archaeology unit to establish the location of the estimated 15,000 shipwrecks lying in Irish territorial waters.
Reply from Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan: My Department’s National Monuments Service, through its Underwater Archaeology Unit, has been researching shipwrecks in Irish territorial waters since 1999 and, from documentary sources and local research and knowledge has, to date, built up a database of 17,000 wrecks, of which some 3,000 have been accurately located.
With the co-operation and assistance of the Geological Survey of Ireland and the Marine Institute, the identity and location of a further 300 wrecks has been identified and verified through high resolution seabed mapping techniques. Further analysis of data already collected and continuing research is expected to increase the number of known shipwreck sites as time goes on.
Work is currently being finalised on the development of a shipwrecks database for inclusion in the National Monuments Service website, www.archaeology.ie, where it will be available to the general public. My Department has also produced two related publications in recent years: The Shipwreck Inventory of Ireland: Louth to Wicklow and Warships, U-Boats and Liners, the latter in co-operation with the Marine Institute and the Geological Survey of Ireland.
Dáil Éireann allocates a certain amount of time on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during which Deputies may ask questions of Members of the Government relating to Public Affairs connected with their Departments, or on matters of administration for whch they are officially responsible. The Taoiseach answers questions on his own Department on Tuesdays/Wednesdays.