By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — The current surge in construction and development has led to archeological excavations and research discovering that Ireland’s Neolithic ancestors had their own property boom thousands of years ago.
Scientists had previously thought that people lived nomadic lives during the Neolithic period from 4000 to 3500 BC and interest had focused on the lasting stone structures like the megalithic tombs.
Now, according to research just published in Arch’ology Ireland, it appears that Irish people 6,000 years ago were already building homes and settling in village-like communities.
"The idea of house and a home place seems to have been important," the magazine states.
"During the 1990s a new orthodox view about the character of the Neolithic in Western Europe, including Ireland and Britain, has been widely articulated. This has stressed the notion that, instead of people being sedentary, the pattern of settlement was based on mobility.
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"In this scenario monuments, such as megalithic tombs, and other sacred places provided the fixed points in people’s lives as they moved through the landscape following a seasonal routine in which agricultural resources played a role that varied in importance."
Recently, however, arch’ological excavations that are required as part of planning preparations for housing, roads and other developments is discovering the Irish Neolithics were lovers of home and hearth.
"In Ireland the evidence suggests a very different Neolithic world."
Excavations in Kerry, Kildare, Derry and Down, strongly suggest that the Irish tradition of putting down roots and having the largest proportion of homes ownership in Europe goes back a very long way.
The research shows there was a widely established tradition around the country of circular and rectangular house construction, field clearance and settlement.
The houses were built of wood so little remains to be seen on the surface of the "urban" Neolithics.
An arch’ological excavation near Tralee, Co. Kerry, prior to recent house building has found the first definite Neolithic structure in the county. Kerry is now claiming to have Ireland’s oldest and newest homes.
In Kildare, soil stripping in advance of a sandpit development found a group of several homes. The largest is a 36-foot by 22-foot house with three rooms, three-foot deep wall foundations and two substantial hearths.