GALLERY: Mutton Island bones find ‘not suspicious’ – Gardai

GALLERY: Mutton Island bones find ‘not suspicious’ – Gardai


Coast Guard personnel accompany gardaí and an archaeologist to Mutton Island – © Pat Flynn 2014

Gardaí have confirmed that there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the discovery of human bones on an island off Co Clare.

Garda forensic investigators and an archaeologist visited Mutton Island off Quilty yesterday (Friday) to examine the scene where the bones were discovered.

The skull and bones were found by a local man who had travelled to island on Wednesday. The discovery was made at the base of a cliff on the eastern side of the island.

After the alarm was raised, gardaí were taken out to the island by boat by members of the Kilkee and Doolin units of the Irish Coast Guard on Wednesday afternoon however conditions at the time were not ideal. Arrangements were made to return yesterday (Friday) when weather in the area had improved significantly.

A member of the Clare divisional crime scene investigation team and a sergeant from Kilrush were transported back to the island yesterday (Friday) afternoon. They were also accompanied by an expert from the Archaeological Survey of Ireland.

The group spent over 90 minutes at the scene and undertook an examination of the bones and the area around where they were discovered. A detailed survey of the area was carried out however it’s not believed any bones were removed from the scene.

While it was not immediately known how old the bones are they have been described as ‘historical.’

The remains, which could be a hundred years old or more, were found in the ground about 50m above water line. It’s believed they may have been exposed by erosion or by the storms that battered the area earlier this year.

The island is known to have been inhabited up to the 1920’s and the bones were found beneath a cliff in front of a former settlement where several derelict cottages still stand.

While the remains could be those of a former resident of the island, it has been suggested by locals that they could date back to the sinking of a Spanish armada of ships in 1588.

One of three galleons that sank off the Clare coast is known to have foundered between Mutton Island and Lurga Point. A number of sailors who perished in that tragedy were buried on the north east corner of the island.

While there will be no criminal investigation into the discovery, the Archaeological Survey of Ireland and gardaí are expected to complete separate reports on the matter.