Do you know what these are?!

One year later and none the wiser as to what object these 16 copper rivets are from! We discovered these during an archaeological excavation of a cave hideout in County Sligo that was used in 1922 at the height of the Irish Civil War. The copper rivets attached an iron band to something that has now disintegrated. We have ruled out a bandolier and boot soles. We have contacted museums throughout Ireland and Britain, and spoken to numerous colleagues in archaeology and history, but no one knows what the rivets are from!

Copper rivets in iron

Here are our current thoughts:

· reinforcement bands from a field medical supply box

· shrapnel for use in an improvised explosive device

· components of field equipment, such as a field telephone

· bolts from sheeting removed from the recently destroyed Ballinalee armoured car used for bullet-proof pannelling in the cave hideout!

There must be someone out there who recognises these? Please share widely and help us solve the mystery!! Email: or, or contact us here.

The Tormore Cave Project

update: the tormore cave project

Well, I thought it might be time to make a brief update on all-things-Tormore!

For those of you who don’t know, Tormore is a cave located high in the Dartry mountains. Until recently it has been unknown to cavers and the public alike; with its location and memory preserved only in the minds and hearts of a handful of people who have inherited its legacy from their relatives.

For it was in Tormore, one hundred years ago, where over 30 IRA combatants, retreating from a National Army assault that left six men dead – Sligo’s Noble Six – sought refuge, allowing them to outlive one of the darkest and most violent periods in modern Irish history.

The entrance to Tormore Cave with artificlly placed steps to ease access

Along with my colleagues, Dr. Marion Dowd and Dr. James Bonsall, I was involved in the licensed excavation of the cave in Spring of this year. Since then we have been working around the clock to process the archaeological data, overseeing specialist consultation in relation to artefacts and ecofacts, conducting interviews with relatives, and researching the almost bottomless military and historical archives.

The results? Well, you’ll have to wait for them!

But in the meantime, we are pleased to announce that we will be publishing not one, but two books!

The first – just ready to leave for the printers – will be on Sligo’s Noble Six, the men who died in controversial circumstances on Benbublin and Benwiskin mountains. The book looks at their lives and at how people have chosen to commeration them since their deaths. The book, The Six, will be released in August. In the meantime a new Twitter page will keep you informed of the story leading up to the events of the story and the release of the book. It can be found at:

The second book, due out in November of this year, will described the cave, the excavation, the history and the stories of the men who survived.

This project has been receiving a lot of interest and attention, and featured a segment on the national RTE News, which can be viewed here:

We also featured in many national and local papers also and we are in the current Descent magazine so make sure to get your hands on that!:

Finally, we gave our first public presentation on the project at the University College Cork hosted ‘The Irish Civil War National Conference’, in June. This was a brilliantly organised event, with excellent lectures and events. The presentation was short and in future, I imagine we will have plenty more to say. It is available, along with many other excellent presentations at:

Stay tuned as there will be plenty more to come!