A schoolboy who was fed-up doing his homework went for a paddle in a lake and stumbled across a logboat that could have been buried in the mud for 4,000 years.
Cathal McDonagh (12), from Lisacul, Co Roscommon, made the discovery while wading in the water at the back of his house.
Archaeologists have told his family that the hollowed out log used as a primitive canoe could date from 2,000 BC.
A team of experts will travel from Dublin this week to examine the find.
What adds an extra layer of intrigue to the discovery is that while a river may have flowed through the area thousands of years ago, the lake is inland, small and home to at least one crannog, built to provide refuge from attackers.
These artificial islands are the oldest human dwelling places in Ireland.
Cathal's mother, Eileen, said he was supposed to be reading his school books when he made the discovery.
"He was bored and went for a walk down to the lake behind the house," she said.
"He had his wellies on, so he was only in above his ankles when he hit upon this. It was that easily found.
"He was all excited and ran back up to the house to tell us, but I just presumed it was a fencing post, which could easily end up in the water as it's surr- ounded by farmland."
Eileen, husband Peter and Cathal's siblings Aonghus (15) and sister Roisin (13) all rushed to the lake and set about salvaging the dugout from the mud and sand.
"We could see one end of it sticking up and then we could feel the outline of it," Eileen said.
"It was well embedded. We removed the sand with our hands and feet."
After a lot of effort, and still not realising exactly what Cath- al had found, the family carefully brought the canoe ashore.
They were amazed to see it was five metres long and nearly a metre wide.
After photographing it and sending the pictures to the underwater archaeology unit at the Heritage Department, they were advised to put it back in the water to preserve it pending expert examination.