Discoveries include confirmation of a submerged forest, and that Waterford county was among the first places in Ireland to be settled 10,000 years ago

Representatives from Ireland, Wales and the United States of America came together recently to discuss The First Settlers of County Waterford as part of a series of cross-border network events hosted by the Portalis project.

The free public seminar held at The Granville Hotel included a fascinating look at archaeology and climate change, and a discussion about how Irish and Welsh coastal communities and their visitors can best work together to preserve their natural and cultural heritage.

Introducing the panel of guest speakers on the evening, Donal Nolan, Strategic Projects Officer at Waterford Chamber of Commerce, noted the great turnout and the presence of the event’s international guests.

Prehistoric stone artefacts, animal bones and environmental coring

The Portalis project explores the story of the first journey between Ireland and Wales dating back to the Mesolithic period. Keynote speaker Professor Stanton Green, Portalis Public Archaeology Ireland Lead, GRA, and his project colleagues Dr Joseph Schuldenrein and Claudia Green, presented the latest developments of the project which include prehistoric stone artefacts, animal bones and environmental coring from Fornaught Strand, County Waterford.

Big discoveries so far this year include confirmation of a submerged forest one and a half meters below the strand, and that Waterford county was among the first places in Ireland to be settled 10,000 years ago. Commenting on the project’s archaeological developments, Prof Stanton Green said, “The next step will be to compare our work in Ireland with that of our Welsh partners so that we can reconstruct the cultural and natural landscape of the Irish Sea and its surroundings.“

New visual narrative

Joy Rooney, Portalis Senior Responsible Officer, Lecturer and Researcher in Design, South East Technological University (SETU) provided attendees with an interesting overview of Portalis, and how it will develop an engaging new visual narrative based on analysis of existing evidence and new data collected within the project. She noted a key objective of Portalis was “to increase and sustainably spread visitor numbers to coastal communities through two unique cross-border networks, the first a cultural network and the second experiential tourism”.

Ivona Carr, Ireland’s Ancient East Officer, Fáilte Ireland, discussed the project’s significance for the area within the context of the Ireland Ancient East programme, while Dr Aisling O’Neill, ArcLabs Research and Innovation Centre Manager, SETU, and Nicola Sharman, Portalis Project Officer, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, discussed ways to further develop networks from Portalis.

Closing the event, Donal Nolan thanked those for attending and remarked on the strong support both in Ireland and from abroad in bringing the project to life.

Establishing tourism and cultural networks

The €1.95m Portalis project, supported by €1.5m funding from the European Regional Development Fund through the Ireland Wales Cooperation Programme, explores the story of the first journey between Ireland and Wales dating back to the Mesolithic period and aims to raise awareness and support community and business by establishing new tourism and cultural networks, and two new visitor experiences at Waterford Museum of Treasures, Ireland, and Ceredigion Museum, Wales.

For more information on Portalis visit: http://portalisproject.eu/