An underground passage with chamber was discovered during road improvement works in the spring of 2015 in the Caha Mountains, on the West Cork/Kerry border.

The passage had been tunneled into the rock overlooking the Sheen Valley. The site is near Bonane, between Kenmare and Glengarriff.

This types of passages, known as souterrains, were used as places of temporary refuge or for food storage. This souterrain is about 15 meters long and 1.5 meters high.

Archaeologists said the site is to be sealed and preserved. Senior archaeologist with the National Roads Authority, James Eogan, told the Irish Examiner that a digger made the discovery.

He said the construction worker knew immediately that the passage was something unusual when “a hole in the ground opened up before him.”

“The road works had only clipped the end of the souterrain [passage] which had remained in good condition. The chamber section is actually running away from the road and into a farm,” Eogan said.

“There are souterrains in many parts of the country and this was the 870th recorded in Kerry, alone.

“This one is interesting as people had not previously known about it and it shows there was a settlement in the area in the 8th to 10th century period.

“It is also significant in that it had tunneled into rock as miners might do which was most unusual — as souterrains generally consist of dry stone walls with lintels running across them and earth on top,” he added.

*Originally published in 2015