Buried under sand for centuries, a church believed to have been founded by Saint Feichin in the seventh century is uncovered on Omey Island.

Omey Island is situated near Claddaghduff in Connemara, County Galway. At low tide it is possible to drive or walk across the strand to the island. It is said Saint Feichin of Fore founded a religious monastery on Omey Island in the seventh century.

After a six week long excavation project undertaken by islanders, a church has been uncovered from where it has lain buried under sand for centuries. Local people believe this church stands on the site of Saint Feichin’s original monastery.

Local curate Father Martin Greany has been in Claddaghduff for two years. Through local knowledge he had an idea of the location of Saint Feichin’s monastery and he could see two parts of a building in the sand. With no official help forthcoming for an excavation,

Curiosity got the better of me and I decided to get a few lads together and have a go at seeing what really was there.

Father Greany was amazed when the excavation revealed the entire framework of a church,

I was absolutely overwhelmed really.

The amateur archaeologists were careful in their work, but admit removing the sand without damaging the church was a very difficult task. While a wall might have been damaged Father Greany dismisses the idea they should have waited for the professionals before undertaking the dig themselves.

The discovery has not been dated yet but one of the locals is convinced the church they call Teampaill Féichín is more than 1000 years old. To know for sure, the island community is eager to have a detailed archaeological examination of Feichin’s Church carried out.

The initial excavation shows there was a greater development on the site,

I think you could possibly have a whole settlement here really.

As a result the site merits a full scale excavation.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 2 June 1981. The reporter is Jim Fahy.