A 1200 year old tunnel is discovered under the village of Ballinamuck.

Ballinamuck in is associated with the 1798 Rebellion, but a much older archaeological structure has recently been revealed during Longford County Council excavations.

The extremely narrow tunnel, or souterrain, was built under the present day village between 700 and 900 AD, and was discovered by County Council workers during pipe laying operations.  Local historian Terry McKenna is enthusiastic about the find, 

It’s only in the very early stages of exploration; we hope that the experts will...tell us the story, what it was put there for, why it was there.  We talk about Newgrange.  Well maybe we have a Newgrange here in the north Longford area.  Time will tell.

Dúchas, the Heritage Service, says 4000 souterrains like this are recorded nationwide.  But this one is interesting, because relatively few have been discovered in the Longford area.  A protection order was placed on the site today.  

Some of the tunnel walls have collapsed, but local people believe this is only a small part of a much larger complex.  Over the years, as yet unexplored souterrains have been found all around the village.  Today this one was sealed up to protect it from any further damage. 

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 13 March 1998.  The reporter is Jim Fahy.