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Thursday 19 October 2017

19th century shell found in Rosslare

By Maria Pepper

The cannon shell found in Rosslare Harbour and removed by the Army.
The cannon shell found in Rosslare Harbour and removed by the Army.

The Army was summoned to Rosslare Harbour last week after an artillery shell was unearthed during a dredging operation in the port.

The muzzle-loader shell thought to be from a 19th century naval cannon was discovered by a Dutch dredger which has been engaged in silt removal in the harbour for the past few weeks.

Work ceased for safety reasons while the gardai carried out a preliminary investigation and subsequently called in the Army for assistance.

There was no major danger but the Dutch captain of Dredger Sospan Dau who has previous experience of unearthing military objects during dredging operations in the UK and Europe felt it would be wise to take precautions.

The gardai notified Army headquarters at Collins Barracks in Cork which dispatched a team to Wexford to remove the shell for disposal.

The item was discovered at approximately 11 am last Tuesday and remained on the deck of the dredger until Army personnel arrived. The area was cleared by 5 pm that evening.

'The gardai were called. They had a look at it and called in the Army,' said Rosslare Harbour Master Captain Aedan Jameson. 'The Army didn't think it was very dangerous.'

'We're not quite sure how it got there because it was found in an area we have deepened before. We think possibly it was brought in by a fisherman and thrown overboard.'

'It's a shell, possibly from British coastal protection or naval service in the 19th century,' he said.

'There is a Dutch captain on the dredger and he would have seen items like this that have been picked up in Holland and England. He wanted it checked out by the Army,' said Captain Jameson.

'The Army said it was possibly a naval ordance. That's their best guess. There would have been some coastal defences here at some point. Initial observations suggested it was a 19th century shell fired from a naval muzzleloader cannon'

The Stena Horizon ferry was in Rosslare Harbour at the time but it was docked at a safe distance from the dredger and the shell had been taken away by the time two other ferries, the Stena Europe and the Isle of Inismore arrived in the harbour that evening.

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