A medieval long boat discovered lying on the bed of the River Boyne in Drogheda is to be taken from the water within days, it was revealed today.
The 12m vessel, found by chance last November during dredging near Drogheda Port, has been fully excavated and the removal operation is almost complete.
The wreck is described as clinker built, a shipbuilding style dating from the Viking era but used for centuries after.
Minister for the Environment John Gormley noted the significance of the find.
"This is considered to be a discovery of national and international significance," he said. "No similar wreck has been discovered so intact in Irish waters and seldom even in Europe."
The recovery operation is expected to be finished within days.
Excavation work was led by the National Monuments Service from the Department of the Environment in conjunction with the National Museum of Ireland and the Drogheda Port Company.
The accidental find last autumn was the first discovery of its kind in Ireland, generating huge interest.
Much of the wreck is intact and lying in the middle of the fast flowing Boyne meaning it was not possible to preserve the vessel in the water.
It has now been fully archaeologically excavated to best international standards by a team from the Department. The team is now seeking to recover as much of the wreck as possible on a timber by timber basis.
Experts believe some larger wooden sections may be recovered from the river intact but it will only become apparent in the final stages of the operation.
The wreck will be conserved for further analysis and ultimately it is hoped to put it on public display.