Island Mac Téige/Aughinish West/Glenbane West, Aughinish Island
A test excavation was carried out on a development site in Aughinish Island, Co. Limerick, in October 2007. The site spanned the three townlands of Island Mac Téige, Aughinish West and Glenbane West. The development site lay within the Shannon Estuary, c. 17km west of Limerick city, and comprised sixteen fields in total.
The site is owned by Aughinish Alumina Ltd, who currently run an aluminium plant to the north of the development site. Works within the plant consist of the dissolution and processing of imported bauxite within a caustic soda in order to extract alumina for export to worldwide smelters. Residue left over from the process is stored within a bauxite residual disposal area (BRDA); the current BRDA bounds the development site to the north. Development plans propose the creation of a second BRDA as well as a borrow pit in the southern end of the site; glacial till is to be removed from this pit to form a composite lining system for the base of the proposed BRDA. This will aid environmental protection.
Recommendations within the environmental impact assessment of the proposed development included that a non-invasive geophysical survey be carried across the development site, to be followed by test excavation to further assess any anomalies noted during the survey. Further recommendations included the monitoring of removal of townland boundaries and the recording of a site of architectural heritage prior to its demolition (The White House, located in the north-eastern corner of the development site). The latter two phases of groundworks will be carried out in 2008.
The geophysical survey was carried out in 2007 by D. Harrison (07R0105). A number of anomalies were noted across the site in the form of linear features, possible pits and a large curving ditch.
The test excavation commenced on 15 and was completed on 22 October 2007; 42 test-trenches were excavated across fifteen fields (one narrow field was needed for access and could not, therefore, be tested). Ten linear features were uncovered in Fields 1, 4, 6, 9, 18, 19 and 20. A burnt spread was noted in Field 3. Probable post-medieval burning was visible in Field 6. A small area of burning was also noted in Field 13 and cultivation activity was noted in Fields 1, 2, 6, 7, 9 and 18–20. It was recommended that these features will need to be fully excavated.
All further site works will be monitored. It is anticipated that these works will take place in spring 2008.
Nikolah Gilligan, Margaret Gowen & Co. Ltd, 27 Merrion Square, Dublin 2.
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