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Treasure hunt off Waterford coast

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — A rush to join in a quest to find sunken treasure in wrecks around Hook Head in County Waterford has led organizers of a diving event there later this month to put a cap on the number of people who can take part.

The seas around Hook Head are known as the "Graveyard of a Thousand Ships" and many of them sank while carrying valuable cargoes. In one day in 1861, seven ships were wrecked in the area.

The Irish Underwater Council and the Hook Head Sub Aqua Club will allow a maximum of 70 divers to take part in the Underwater Treasure Hunt on Aug. 26.

The dive will take place near where the ship "Arthur" foundered with a cargo or ivory and silver.

It is also close to Dollar Bay, where a mutineers are believed to have hidden most of a cargo of gold and coins they stole after murdering the captain and crew of the "Earl of Sandwich" in 1765.

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The four mutineers were caught and hanged in Dublin. As an example, their bodies were left to rot chained to piles on Dalkey Island.

Much of their loot — 250 bags of Spanish dollars, ingots and gold dust — was never found.

In case none of the real treasure turns up, Underwater Council spokesman Michael Loftus said some specially minted "dubloons" would be hidden on the seabed.

There will be a prize fund of £1,000, and to avoid underwater villainy, the organizers are insisting that no diving knives may be worn.

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