Rockcorry Divers invited to Customs House in Dublin

National Monument and Underwater Archaeological Service

7th March 2024

Picture taken at the Customs House in Dublin and hosted by the National Monument and Underwater Archaeological Service along with the National Museum of Ireland, showing attendees, including the members of the Rockcorry Divers’ Club.

Members of the Rockcorry Divers search and recovery unit were thrilled to be invited to a recent government-funded workshop organised by Minister Malcolm Noonan TD and the Department of Housing, Local Government, and Heritage, focused on preserving Ireland’s underwater cultural heritage.

The workshop aimed to establish a national strategy for safeguarding and managing the numerous historical sites located off the coast and along inland waterways. Taking place at the Customs House in Dublin and hosted by the National Monument and Underwater Archaeological 
Service along with the National Museum of Ireland.

The event featured a presentation by Mr. Marc-Andre Bernier. Bernier, a Canadian underwater archaeologist renowned for his role in discovering and exploring the wrecks of HMS Terror and HMS Erebus. (He had also received the prestigious Lawrence J. Burpee Medal from the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.) These ships, lost during the 1845 expedition to locate the uncharted Northwest Passage in the Canadian Arctic, claimed the lives of 129 men.

Captain Sir John Franklin led the ill-fated expedition, which became trapped in the frozen seas off Canada until their discovery in 2014. Bernier shared insights into managing the sites and emphasised the importance of educating younger generations to uphold the spirit of exploration.

Attendees also learned about the ongoing efforts of Ireland’s own dedicated underwater archaeologists, Dr. Connie Kelleher and Mr. Karl Brady from the National Monument Service.

Kelleher and Brady collaborate closely with members of the Rockcorry Dive Club, particularly in documenting the RMS Lusitania. They discussed their work retrieving artifacts from inland sites and shipwrecks along the Irish coast.

Due to the diving capabilities of Rockcorry Divers, capable of reaching depths beyond recreational limits, the club will assist in future projects. Some artifacts already recovered will be showcased in the National Museum, offering the public a glimpse into Ireland’s maritime history. Bernier highlighted the historical significance of amateur groups in discovering artifacts, praising the encouragement and support provided by the Monument Services to clubs like Rockcorry Divers.

The workshop provided valuable insights for new exploration endeavours, as many sites remain unexplored and hold compelling human stories. Gratitude was extended to Mrs. Heather Humphries TD for her early involvement in nurturing Project 17, which remains a work in progress.