Time capsule with ‘gold and silver coins of the realm’ is buried on church premises

Bill McIlreavy: I can only assume we're looking in the wrong place.

Two sets of churchgoers are competing to find buried treasure, but do not appear to have a prayer.

Members of the Presbyterian church in Drogheda sold their premises to the Redeemed Christian Church of God four years ago, but old records show that when the building was constructed 200 years ago, a time capsule was buried there.

The capsule contained what was described as ‘gold and silver coins of the realm’, and a copy of a local newspaper, the Drogheda Journal.

Despite modern technology and the previous failure of metal detectors, there is no map to show where digging should begin.

Bill McIlreavy, of the Presybterians, said: “I can only assume we have been looking in the wrong place. A few years ago, a guy with a metal detector came on board and did locate something, near the rear of the building.

“We got the shovels out and started digging, but all we found was a pile of old scrap metal.

“Now, I don’t know whether the guy was any good or not, and I certainly don’t know how good his detector was, but, one way or the other, we didn’t discover what we were looking for.

“The records we have state on April 24, 1826, the capsule was sealed in a glass bottle, which was then placed in a cylindrical brass box and deposited in a stone, which was prepared for the occasion, so we know it is there, we just don’t know exactly where to look.”

Colleague Sam Yeates said: “We believe there is a machine out there that can actually draw up plans of the walls and foundations of old buildings, so we may have to consider using that.”

The man in charge of the church is Pastor Kayode Papoole and he is as anxious as his counterparts to unearth the missing capsule.

“I am aware of its existence, but, like the other gentlemen, none the wiser of where it is,” he said. “The hunt is complicated by the fact that the church has a school underneath it, which was used back in the 1800s, so it could have even been buried under those foundations.

“So far, nobody has been able to track down an original plan for the building, but, certainly, we would love to find it and place it on display somewhere.

“I’m sure both churches would work together on that.”

Help may be at hand, however, as Ian Whyte, of Whyte’s, Ireland’s foremost valuers of coins, believes the situation can be resolved.

“We have encountered this before, that much I can tell you, for sure, and, generally, we find these capsules were buried under one of the corner stones of the buildings — people assume they would be placed near the front door, but that is usually not the case,” he said.

“One of the best finds we had, in this line, was when Nelson’s Pillar went up; there was a time capsule in there and the coins in that sold for quite a few hundred pounds, back then.

“In 1826, you would be looking mainly at British coins, although, if there were some copper ones buried, they may have the harp on them to indicate they were Irish.”


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