Cork’s past generations revealed

Professor William O’Brien, Head of the Department of Archaeology, University College Cork, formally launched Generations: the archaeology of five national road schemes in County Cork, Vols 1 & 2 in the Aula Maxima (Great Hall) of the university on 10 December. The publication of Generations, edited by Ken Hanley and Maurice F Hurley, is the culmination of many years of work undertaken by a wide range of archaeologists and specialists and represents a major contribution to our knowledge of Cork’s archaeological heritage.

Generations is a book about the lives of people in County Cork over the past 10,000 years. The generations that have come and gone in that time have all left some trace on the landscape, as revealed in 114 archaeological excavations on five national road projects: Glanmire–Watergrasshill (N8), Rathcormac–Fermoy (M8), Mitchelstown Relief Road (N8/N73), Ballincollig Bypass (N22) and Youghal Bypass (N25). Each excavated site represents the physical imprint left by our ancestors who, like us, experienced the joys and hardships of life, whether in the rolling hills of north Cork, on the fertile plains of the Lee Valley or in sight of Youghal Bay. Accounts of each excavated site are complemented in the two volumes by essays that discuss the significance of the findings in their regional, national and international contexts. An accompanying CD-ROM includes all the primary technical and specialist data from the excavations and 3D animated reconstructions of a selection of five of the prominent sites.

The book launch drew a large attendance and was also addressed by the County Mayor of Cork, Councillor Noel O’Connor. Mayor O’Connor emphasised the importance of infrastructural investment to County Cork and of both protecting and promoting our cultural heritage. Professor O’Brien highlighted the significance of the discoveries. Calling the book a milestone in the published archaeology of County Cork, Professor O’Brien commended the work of the NRA for what he called the ‘gold standard’ in archaeological management of infrastructural projects in Ireland.

Generations (NRA Scheme Monographs 13) is published by the NRA and is available through bookshops or directly from Wordwell Books, Unit 9, 78 Furze Road, Sandyford, Dublin 18 (tel: +353 1 2947860; e-mail: