BirdWatch Ireland’s waterbird ecologists working on the Dublin Bay Birds project spend a lot of time on Sandymount Strand and have struck it lucky with a remarkable discovery.
A sea-front curtain-twitcher remarked:
“They seem to be here all the time! I’ve seen them here at all hours of the day and night – with their telescopes watching the birds, catching them and marking them with plastic leg rings, or even tracking the Oystercatchers with radio-antennas, so it’s little wonder that they were the ones to find the gold.”
“When I saw the low rainbows, I started to think about their significance,” said one of the project team, who also has a keen interest in Irish folklore. “My grandfather comes from Slieve-an-ore [Gold Mountain], near Feakle in Clare. He has seen the low rainbows there too, and told me what they mean. Tales of leprechauns and pots of gold are not just bedtime stories, despite what people may think.”
|Squally showers on Sandymount Strand Niall Tierney|
The ecologist continued:
“We managed to get some spades and sieves from colleagues in nearby UCD and got straight to work. It’s not rocket-science – it’s simply a matter of scouring the sandflats looking for signs of mineralisation, and then getting busy with our spades and sieves. The gold pellets are pretty obvious, once you get your eye in.”
|Sifting through the sediment Niall Tierney|
Others have suggested that the gold may originate from one of the many shipwrecks in Dublin Bay and that it may just be washing up now, after the storm force gales of Monday night. The steamship RMS Leinster, which was torpedoed by a German U-boat UB-123 on the 10th October, 1918, is emerging as the prime candidate, as military historians have long speculated on the likelihood that she was carrying a significant cargo of gold.
Whatever the source of the gold, it’s expected that, much like the infamous 19th century gold rushes, people will flock to the Dublin coast aspiring to make their fortunes.
|Susan and Helen make their way back with their loot Niall Tierney|
BirdWatch Ireland has remained tight-lipped about how it will spend its windfall. However, a source close to Ireland’s largest nature conservation organisation suggested that the money will either be spent on an ambitious plan to create the world‘s largest aviary by roofing Co. Wicklow, or on a Passenger Pigeon re-introduction project, which aims to solve the world’s hunger crisis.