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Donegal brain surgeon at work in AD 800, burial site reveals

November 11, 2009

BRAIN SURGERY was being carried out in Ireland more than 1,000 years ago – and patients survived.

People with disabilities were treated with compassion and respect within their communities in medieval Ireland but TB and other diseases, possibly including cancer, claimed many lives while others died by the sword.

A multitude of insights about life and death in Gaelic Ireland were gleaned following the discovery of an unknown medieval church and the graves of about 1,300 men, women and children who lived along the banks of the river Erne at Ballyhanna, Co Donegal, several hundred years ago.

The burial ground, which spanned several centuries, was found during the construction of the Ballyshannon/ Bundoran bypass in 2003.

Last night, as part of Science Week Ireland, a team of archaeologists and scientists from Sligo Institute of Technology and Queen’s University Belfast, who are involved in the Ballyhanna project, outlined their findings to date.

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