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The main commuter route between Galway and Tuam is due to close this Thursday 24th March at the Clare River Bridge to facilitate the construction of flood relief works.

The bridge is expected to remain closed until 20th June and during the closure, motorists will be diverted onto the specially constructed N17 Temporary Diversion Road.

It is hoped that the road, which consists of two temporary bridges and a roadway, will ensure that traffic flows through the town while the main bridge is closed.

Project Engineer Paul Costello has said that the flood relief works due to begin this week would increase the capacity under the bridge structure in Claregalway and, when completed, prevent a re-occurrence of the devastating flooding that affected the area in 2009.

“As everyone saw two years ago, the water literally couldn’t get through the bridge and it started to back up the channels so when this is completed it will be able to get through the bridge,” said Mr. Costello.

It had been hoped that the relief works would begin last winter, but the construction of the N17 Temporary Diversion Road was delayed while an archaeological examination was carried out at the site, which is close to the 15th century Claregalway Abbey.

Project Archaeologist Martin Jones said that the excavation of the site had been a unique opportunity to examine such a historic location.  Over 500 individual artefacts, from arrowheads to coins and keys were discovered, during the course of the three-month-long dig, which was completed last month.

“There was a wealth of stuff there that gives a really nice indication and a really nice flavour of what day-to-day life would have been in 13th, 14th century Claregalway,” said Mr. Jones.

The remains of 25 individuals, 23 full skeletons and two skulls, were also recovered during the excavation.  The discoveries are currently being analysed by Headland Archaeology.

The analysis of the artefacts is due to be completed in the next two to three months and a presentation on the archaeological dig is expected to take place at Claregalway Castle once the process if complete.

Lorraine O’Hanlon, Galway Independent