Eagle-eyed boy finds 5,000-year-old arrowhead on Cork beach

The artefact found by the seven-year-old beachcomber is likely older than the Giza Pyramids in Egypt.
Eagle-eyed boy finds 5,000-year-old arrowhead on Cork beach

Darragh Kenny, 7, found a 5,000-year-old arrowhead on Dunworley Beach in West Cork at the weekend. Picture: Jill Cotter

A young Cork boy with a sharp eye has unearthed an archaeological treasure while digging on his favourite beach.

Darragh Kenny, 7, from Passage West has been credited with discovering a near-5,000-year-old Neolithic or Stone Age flint arrowhead on a small West Cork beach.

It is probably older than the great pyramids of Egypt and Stonehenge.

He found it while digging in the sand on Dunworley beach near Clonakilty during a camping weekend with his mother, Grace Leonard, last Sunday.

The 5,000-year-old arrowhead. Picture: Jill Cotter
The 5,000-year-old arrowhead. Picture: Jill Cotter

“He was exploring the beach and he just found it sticking up out of the sand as the tide retreated,” Grace said.

While most young boys would probably have picked up the angular white stone and skimmed it on the water, Darragh knew there was something different and special about this one.

“He loves shells and stones and rarely misses anything, and he has come back after exploring a beach in Kerry with fossils,” Grace said.

He’s hugely observant and has a good grasp on things like this and he knew this was very different, and he brought it back to me and said: ‘What’s this, Mum?’ 

“We took some photographs and emailed them to the National Museum of Ireland, but I thought flints are 10-a-penny, and I wasn’t expecting much.” 

But to their delight, the National Museum replied with confirmation that Darragh had found what looks like a petit-tranchet derivative flint arrowhead. They date to the Late Neolithic in Ireland, 3000BC to 2700BC.

Newgrange, Ireland’s best-known passage tomb, was built around the same time, around 3200BC — that’s 600 years before the Giza Pyramids in Egypt, and 1,000 years before Stonehenge.

Maeve Sikora, the keeper of Irish antiquities at the National Museum of Ireland, praised Darragh for finding it, recognising its significance and then reporting the rare stray find.

Key to a wider story

“We have a budding archaeologist on our hands,” she said.

For it to survive from 3000BC and for it then to be picked up by Darragh last Sunday — that whole concept of time, of its journey, that is really special.

“It’s such a specific type of tool, and we know where it was found, so that’s great for us because it builds up a picture of the archaeology of this area of Ireland.

“And because it’s a really specific kind of a tool, it is the key to a wider story in West Cork in the late Neolithic. It will be a critical part of the story of West Cork archaeology.

“Each object found adds something new to the story of human interaction in the area.” 

The museum has collected the arrowhead for study and cataloguing before placing it in storage where it will be made available to researchers.

Ms Sikora has invited Darragh, a pupil in first class in Star of the Sea school in Passage West, to visit the museum and inspect the arrowhead this summer.

He is also in line for a small finder’s fee for reporting the find, as set out under the National Monuments Act.

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