In recent years TII Archaeology and Heritage has sought to expand on the various methods it uses to communicate the results of archaeological investigations on road and light rail schemes to the general public. A series of specially commissioned audiobooks produced by Abarta Heritage represents the newest form of dissemination adopted by TII. These guides can be accessed via Abarta Heritage's website or Soundcloud page, and can be downloaded for free.
The Unsilent Stones
The Unsilent Stones audiobook features a wonderful cast of Irish actors performing fictionalised stories that relate the experiences of those resting in Athlone’s Abbey Graveyard. Situated on a patch of dry ground just east of the River Shannon, the graveyard is positioned a short distance outside Athlone’s North Gate. In days gone by, this spot overlooked a small bay and harbour on the river. The graveyard takes its name from a Franciscan Friary Church that was under construction here during the late 1600s. It still stands today, though it was never fully completed—works ceased when catastrophic war came to Athlone in 1690 and 1691. While most of what is visible today dates to the 17th century, it seems certain there was religious activity on this spot long before. Four Early Christian cross-inscribed slabs were discovered here, suggesting that this may have been a significant early church site more than 1,000 years ago. It is also possibly the site of the first Franciscan Friary, which was established in Athlone during the 13th century.
But despite these potential early origins, the majority of the visible gravestones date to the 18th and 19th centuries. Very few of them remain in their original positions, having been moved to their present locations in 1984. Thankfully, Hazel Ryan recorded all the headstones and their inscriptions prior to their relocation. These headstones inspire many of the stories, and we will hear from 8th century Kings, medieval friars, innkeepers and gardeners, along with more tragic tales of war, poverty and injustice.
This audiobook was produced in conjunction with TII, who commissioned this work as the graveyard lies on the route of the Garrycastle to Athlone Marina Shared Cycleway and Footway, forming part of the National Cycleway linking Galway and Dublin. The audiobook was scripted by Dr Damian Shiels and Neil Jackman, and performed by Sharon Mannion, Sarah Jane Scott, Paula Rouse, Garry Mountaine, Malachy McKenna and Fionn Foley. It was recorded at Bluebird Studios in Kildare with sound engineer Declan Lonergan and producer Róisín Burke. Special thanks are due to historian Gearoid O’Brien and to Hazel Ryan, who recorded the transcriptions and original headstones in the graveyard during the 1980s. Thanks also to project engineers Michael Kelly and Darren Fulham at Westmeath County Council, National Roads Office.
The music in the introduction and conclusion is an excerpt of a wax cylinder recording of the Vacant Chair by the famous Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore—known as the ‘Father of the American Concert Band’. He was born in Ballygar, Co. Galway, in 1829, and his formal musical education began in Athlone where he studied under the great band-master Patrick Keating, whose son is buried in the graveyard.
Archaeological Discoveries around the Bay of Dundalk
During works in advance of the M1 Dundalk Bypass, archaeologists from Irish Archaeological Consultancy Ltd and Aegis Archaeology Ltd excavated 34 sites dating from the Neolithic period to the 19th century. Our tales are connected along one of the great routeways of Ireland. It was here that travellers found the road to the north, and where legend tells of Cú Chulainn harrying the armies of Queen Maeve. The real archaeological stories are every bit as compelling as the mythological ones. Our story begins with the island’s first farmers, who tilled and toiled on the soil around the Bay almost six millennia ago. As we journey on, we will encounter people who experienced the wonder of the arrival of metal, and delve into the prehistoric realms they constructed for their dead. We will travel underground with the living as they sought refuge from marauding raiders, and we take a stand on ramparts alongside terrified soldiers as they gaze upon an approaching Scottish army. Our trip will conclude with the labourers whose backbreaking efforts created the landscape we see about us today. The Archaeological Discoveries around the Bay of Dundalk audiobook, produced by Abarta Heritage on behalf of Transport Infrastructure Ireland, tells these stories in a chronological order.
You can take a deeper dive into the information about the archaeological sites investigated along the route of the M1 Dundalk Western Bypass in the TII publication Around the Bay of Dundalk by Shane Delaney, David Bayley and Jim McKeon. For the detailed technical reports on all of the excavations have a look at the TII Digital Heritage Collections in the Digital Repository of Ireland.
This audiobook was written by Damian Shiels and edited by Neil Jackman. The story was narrated by Gerry O’Brien and recorded at Bluebird Studios with sound engineer Declan Lonergan and producers Tara Clarke and Róisín Burke.
In the Vale of Tralee: the archaeology of the N22 Tralee Bypass
The In the Vale of Tralee audiobook tells the story of the remarkable archaeological discoveries that were made in advance of the construction of the N22 Tralee Bypass. The Tralee Bypass and the Tralee to Bealagrellagh Link Road travel across 13.5 km of one of the richest cultural landscapes in the south-west of Ireland. Along the route of the new road, archaeologists from Rubicon Heritage Services and Irish Archaeological Consultancy Ltd discovered and excavated a total of 33 sites. The powerful, diverse and often unique insights they gathered help to inform us about life in the past in the Vale of Tralee.
Today’s Lee Valley, where our story is set, is dominated by the constant bustle and buzz of Tralee, the largest town in County Kerry. But in the fields beyond, a quieter landscape still holds dominion. Here, farmers tend their pastures much as they have always done in the flat, low-lying valley nestled between the Stack’s and Slieve Mish Mountains. Despite their obvious differences, these contrasting environments both owe their origins to a single source: the River Lee. This river has been the central character in the area’s human history from the moment the first Mesolithic people turned their paddles upstream in exploration. In the story to come, we will meet a procession of their descendants: men, women and children who called the river valley home across almost 6,000 years. Among them are the pioneering farmers who laboured on the region’s first houses, and the holy men and women who bent their communities towards monumental achievements. We will encounter people who bore witness to the arrival of the first metals in the Lee Valley, and draw back the veil on how they parted with their dead. We will step through the thresholds of modest homes that stood at the dawn of Christianity in Ireland, and end our journey with the abandoned cottages of the Great Famine’s tragic victims.
If you would like more detail on the sites featured in this audio guide you can explore this in the recently published book In the Vale of Tralee: the archaeology of the N22 Tralee Bypass edited by Patricia Long, Paul O'Keeffe and Isabel Bennett.
This audiobook was written by Damian Shiels and edited by Neil Jackman, with the support of Paul O’Keeffe and Rónán Swan of Transport Infrastructure Ireland. The story was narrated by Gerry O’Brien and recorded at Bluebird Studios with sound engineer Declan Lonergan and producer Róisín Burke.
Hidden Voices: the archaeology of the M8 Fermoy–Mitchelstown motorway
Welcome to the Hidden Voices audiobook. The M8 Fermoy to Mitchelstown motorway winds its way through the storied lands of North Cork, crossing an undulating landscape between the River Blackwater and the Galtee Mountains. The road was constructed to bypass the towns of Fermoy and Mitchelstown as part of the upgraded Cork to Dublin national road network. In advance of the construction of the road, archaeologists from Eachtra Archaeological Projects unearthed a succession of exciting discoveries along its route, as they excavated 22 archaeological sites. The remarkable insights their findings provide into life in North Cork across the millennia is the subject of this Abarta audiobook, that was produced on behalf of TII.
The M8 is just the latest in a series of routeways to negotiate the shadow of Caherdrinny Hill, one of the great physical and historical landmarks of North Cork. Just as the hill today watches over the motorway, in ages past it kept vigilant eye on the comings and goings of all who crossed the plains and river valleys straddling either side of the Kilworth Mountains. It bore witness to each of those who feature in our story, all the way back to the hunter-gathers who established a seasonal camp at its base, 10,000 years ago. Theirs are the first ‘hidden voices’ whose echoes reverberate through this audio book, but they are far from the last. It takes us from the thud of axes and crash of trees that sounded through the landscape of Ireland’s first farmers, to the anguish, pain and despair that accompanied the deaths of those taken far too young during the Bronze Age. We encounter those who constructed North Cork’s most monumental boundaries some 2,000 years ago, and meet master craftsmen who may have counted Saints among their customers. We will step inside the modest homes of those whose lives were shaped by a new power, the Anglo-Normans, and take our leave with a visit to the equally modest dwellings of the region’s 19th-century inhabitants. Each track of our guide examines an aspect of life in a specific period of history. But it begins with the story of the hunter-gathers and farmers, who were the first to make North Cork their home.
If you would like more detail and analysis of the sites featured in this audiobook you can explore this in the book Hidden Voices: the archaeology of the M8 Fermoy–Mitchelstown motorway by Penny Johnston and Jacinta Kiely.
This audiobook was written by Damian Shiels and edited by Neil Jackman, with assistance from the TII Archaeologist, Ken Hanley. It is narrated by Gerry O’Brien and was recorded at Bluebird Studios in Kildare with sound engineer Declan Lonergan and producers Róisín Burke and Geni Murphy.
Mullamast: the story of a medieval village
The Mullamast audiobook tells the story of the remarkable archaeological discoveries made during works in advance of the M9 Motorway in County Kildare, where archaeologists found the remains of a long forgotten medieval village that lay in the shadow of one of Ireland’s ancient royal sites. The excavation at Mullamast revealed important new insights into trade, religion, society and everyday life in medieval Ireland. This audiobook draws on the archaeological information and contemporary history to tell the story of life and death in medieval Ireland.
This audiobook accompanies the publication Colonising a Royal Landscape, the History and Archaeology of a Medieval Village at Mullamast County Kildare by Teresa Bolger. The book will allow you to dig deeper into the remarkable stories of Mullamast and to learn more about the archaeology and history of this important site.
This audiobook was produced by Abarta Heritage on behalf of TII. It was written by Damian Shiels and narrated by Gerry O’Brien. It was edited and produced by Neil Jackman, Róisín Burke and Geni Murphy of Abarta Heritage, and recorded in Bluebird Studios Kildare with sound engineer Declan Lonergan.
Buttevant Heritage Trail: stories from above and below
Welcome to Buttevant. If you scratch below the surface of this vibrant Cork town, and take the time to investigate some of its hidden corners, you will discover that it has deep medieval roots, and is alive with tales of the entrepreneurial spirit that typifies the town and its residents. The Buttevant Heritage Trail audiobook has been written by the local community and produced by Abarta Heritage on behalf of TII. It will introduce you to the fascinating stories of the town. The book includes information about the latest important discoveries that were made during TII-funded archaeological investigations in the town in 2015–2016. You will hear stories of how Buttevant’s big dig shed new light on the town’s medieval origins, and how the town developed under figures like John Anderson. You’ll also discover the story of the world’s first steeple chase and hear the gravelly voice of a stone gargoyle who has witnessed the town’s story.
This audiobook was produced by Abarta Heritage on behalf of TII, and with the support and participation of the people of Buttevant. We would like to offer a special thanks to all the storytellers of the town who kindly contributed their knowledge and insights, particularly: Ann Coughlan, Noel Coleman, Jack O’Donnell, Marion O’Sullivan, Denis O'Sullivan, Gabriel O’Callaghan, Emily Dumunfort, Dolores Cronin, Catherine Roche, Janette Guiney, Tom Blake and Frank Trimm. The archaeological information that helps to shine new light onto the story of Buttevant is thanks to Priority Construction Ltd, Rubicon Heritage Services, Arup Consulting Engineers, Kieran McKeone of Cork County Council and Ken Hanley of TII.
Meitheal: stories from early medieval Ireland
The Meitheal audio book audiobook provides glimpses of life in a large settlement in Ireland, sometime around the sixth or seventh century AD.
On a long, low ridge in the small townland of Raystown near Ashbourne in County Meath, archaeologists discovered the remains of a large and complex site that was once part of the ancient kingdom of Brega. The excavations, in advance of the construction of the M2 Finglas to Ashbourne Motorway, revealed a place where people worked the fields, milled grains, feasted, lived and buried their dead well over a thousand years ago. This large farming settlement was to endure for at least 600 years, and this discovery produced a wealth of new insights into life in early medieval Ireland.
This audiobook weaves a number of fictional tales, informed by the dig and the artefacts discovered, to help introduce some of the people who lived at Raystown. You’ll meet the lord or flaith of the settlement, his bóaire who managed the farms and mills, a slave, and a wanderer. You’ll join in a feast for a King, and hear the aftermath of a raid on a rival settlement.
Many of the details in the tales were inspired by the remarkable discoveries outlined in the new TII publication Meitheal: the archaeology of lives, labours and beliefs at Raystown, Co. Meath (TII Heritage 4) by Matthew Seaver.
The audiobook was produced by Abarta Heritage for Transport Infrastructure Ireland. The script was written by Neil Jackman of Abarta Heritage with the specialist insights of Matthew Seaver and Terry O’Hagan. The audio book was recorded and produced by Róisín Burke and Declan Lonergan, and narrated by Sarah Jane Scott, Sam Lucas Smith and Danny Kehoe.
Luas: Dublin's timeline
Welcome to the Luas: Dublin’s Timeline audiobook. The Luas is Dublin’s light-rail transit service. The development of the Luas network saw some of the biggest infrastructural developments of modern Dublin. In a city as old as Dublin, wherever you dig you are likely to find echoes of the past.
During the construction of the Luas lines, experienced teams of archaeologists kept a careful watch as they monitored the works, and identified and excavated any archaeological remains that were encountered. Their meticulous records reveal a wealth of new information about Dublin’s history, and this audio book helps to tell the story of what was discovered, along with the history and stories from each of the stops. Hear about Dublin’s early origins, its Viking past and life in medieval Dublin. You’ll also hear tales of tragedy and poverty from Dublin’s tenements, and violence as the 1916 Easter Rising nearly tore the city apart. You can also encounter some of Dublin’s characters and folk-tales such as Copper Face Jack or the notorious thief Scaldbrother. This audiobook is also packed with information about Dublin’s engineering and architecture, arts, culture and politics. You’ll find information about some of the most famous parts of the city, like St Stephen’s Green, the Four Courts, Smithfield and more!
The audiobook is delivered in a series of tracks, with each track representing the story of one of the Luas stops along the central portion of the Luas Red and Green Lines, from Heuston Station to Charlemont. This audio book was produced by Abarta Heritage on behalf of Transport Infrastructure Ireland. It was narrated by Sharon Mannion and Gerry O’Brien and written by Neil Jackman, with the kind support of Emer Dennehy and Rónán Swan of Transport Infrastructure Ireland. We are indebted to the teams of archaeologists who worked so diligently to uncover the story of Dublin during the construction of the Luas.
Ballyhanna: stories from the grave
Download the free Ballyhanna: stories from the grave audiobook and immerse yourself in tales of medieval Ireland. This groundbreaking audio book tells the story of the archaeological excavation of Ballyhanna. In 2003 archaeologists discovered the remains of a long-forgotten medieval graveyard at Ballyhanna on the outskirts of Ballyshannon in County Donegal. The graveyard contained the skeletal remains of more than a thousand men, women and children. These remains were scientifically studied by the Ballyhanna Research Project, One of the primary aims of the project is to show how scientific research may aid our interpretations of archaeology and reveal new insights into past societies. The project research tells us about this community through death and burial traditions, and by examining these aspects, it also tells us about the people that lived in this medieval community, who, over the course of a millennium, were laid to rest in a small graveyard by the banks of the River Erne.
This audiobook details the excavations and scientific projects. It also tells stories from the graves, in a series of first-person fictionalised accounts based on the information gleaned during the excavation and analysis.
Woodstown: Viking settlement in Waterford
The Woodstown: Viking settlement in Waterford audiobook engagingly tells the story of one of Ireland’s most important archaeological discoveries. Archaeologists investigating the proposed route of the Waterford City Bypass in 2003 uncovered the remains of a ninth-century Viking settlement on the banks of the River Suir at Woodstown in County Waterford. The site has been hailed by scholars as one of the most significant archaeological discoveries ever made in Ireland.
This immersive audiobook is an accessible companion to Woodstown: a Viking-Age settlement in Co. Waterford edited by Ian Russell and Maurice F Hurley, and published by Four Courts Press. It contains in-depth analysis of the site and its artefacts by a variety of international experts who look at what the remains can reveal about the Vikings in Ireland.
This audiobook was produced in conjunction with Transport Infrastructure Ireland and Waterford Treasures: Three Museums in the Viking Triangle.
The M6: a route through time
Combining the latest archaeological information with historical sources The M6: a route through time audiobook is an accessible but authoritative insight into the wonderful history of the region through which the M6 motorway between Kinnegad and Galway travels. This audio book tells the story of this incredible landscape through the newly discovered archaeological sites and also shows the listener the wonderful heritage sites that are still accessible along the route, like the magnificent monastic site of Clonmacnoise, Co. Offaly, and the medieval walled town of Athenry and the site of Ireland’s bloodiest battle at Aughrim, both in County Galway.
This audiobook is extensively researched and presents the complex story of this landscape in a unique and accessible way, drawing not only on the archaeological reports from the scheme, but also the results of archaeological excavations by the National Museum of Ireland, and a wide variety of other academic research, publications and cartographic information.
The audiobook was produced by Abarta Heritage for Transport Infrastructure Ireland, with thanks to the National Museum of Ireland, the National Monuments Service and especially to the many archaeologists, specialists and archaeological consultancies involved on the road scheme: CRDS Ltd, Eachtra Archaeological Projects, Headland Archaeology (Ireland) Ltd, IAC Ltd, The Archaeology Company, and Valerie J Keeley Ltd.