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Local History of Sligo

Local History

Sligo is the most important town in the Northwest of Ireland and is set in the county that become the chosen home of the most celebrated Irish poet, Yeats who is buried in the county. From the surf beaches along the coast to the tranquil lakes with forested islands, County Sligo boasts spectacular scenery that is rich in archeological sites and megalithic monuments such the Neolithic cemetery at Carrowmore and the prehistoric village at Carrowkeel.

Inishmurray Island ~ A Monastic Settlement

Inishmurray, a magical island off the coast of Sligo, inhabited for centuries but now deserted, containing the most complete remains of an early Irish monastic settlement. Founded by St. Molaise in the early 6th century, the monastery was plundered by Vikings in 802. Its five entrances can still be seen leading into a central area divided into four enclosures: the Men’s Church, the Teach Molaise Church with an equal-armed cross, the Church of Fire, and the Women’s Church.

This abandoned island is sited on a Ley Line connecting Ireland with the Great Pyramid.

Creevykeel Court Tomb

This is one of the best examples of a court tomb in the country. Located on flat ground overlooking the coast and Mullaghmore Harbour, this site consists of a long, wedge shaped cairn enclosing a large oval court area (14 metres by 9 metres) a 10 metres long two chambered gallery, which would have originally had a low corbelled roof. The remains of three single chambered subsidiary structures are located in the western end of the cairn may be contemporary with the main monument and are possibly simple forms of passage tombs. The cairn is 55 metres long and 25 metres wide at the eastern end where the entrance into the court area is located. The cairn is kerbed and has double kerbing along its southern edge and it's possible that the entrance to the court area was covered at one stage. The lintel stone (which was re-erected during the excavation) rests on the entrance jambs and paving stones were uncovered here as well as between the jamb stones at the second chamber.

The area around the entrance to the gallery is emphasised by an increase in the size of orthostats of the court. An excavation of the site was carried out by Hencken's Harvard University Expedition in 1935. The finds they uncovered, along with cremated remains, include both decorated and undecorated Neolithic pottery, flint lozenge shaped arrowheads and hollow scrapers, a chalk ball and polished stone axes. A beautiful flint javelin head, almost compatible with the quality of the one found at Aghanalack court tomb, was also found, but this one was leaf and oval in shape, which could be used as a knife as well as a projectile. The excavation also uncovered considerable Early Medieval activity at the site including what appeared to be iron smelting activity in the chambers and a kiln structure, which was probably used for drying corn, which is still visible on the northwest side of the court area.

Creevykeel Court Tomb is located on the east side of the N15 Sligo to Bundoran road about 2 kilometres north of Cliffoney.

Carrowmore & Knocknarea

The flat-topped summit and upper slopes of Knocknarea are covered in heath dominated by heather. The steep cliffs along the seaward flanks of the hill are home to a number of rare alpine plants while the grassland below the cliffs is typical species-rich limestone grassland. On the summit of Knocknarea Mountain is the huge flat-topped cairn called 'Miosgán Meadhbha' (Maeve's Cairn), 60 metres in diameter and 12 metres high. It has not been excavated but probably covers a passage tomb, dating to c.3000 BC. Maeve's cairn is just one part of a complex story regarding Neolithic activity on and around this mountain (c.4000-2500BC). It is one of the legendary burial sites of Queen Maeve, who ruled Connaught from her capital at Rathcroaghan in Co. Roscommon. There are many indications that Maeve is a goddess of sovereignty, one of the group of Irish female deities of war, territory and sexuality. The legend of her death is quite unusual, as an 11th century text explains that she was killed by her nephew with a sling shot consisting of a lump of hard cheese!

Carrowmore is the largest megalithic complex in Ireland and amongst the most important in Europe. The monuments form an oval shaped cluster around a centrally placed cairn covered monument, 'Listoghill' (Tomb 51). Some very early dates for some of the excavated tombs (4840-4370 BC) remain debatable, but it is clear that these are some of the oldest megaliths in Ireland. Tomb 7, is a good example and consists of a central polygonal chamber surrounded by a boulder circle of 31 boulders. It was dated to c.4000 BC, and finds include a large quantity of cremated human bones, together with fragments of antler pins, a stone ball and lots of unopened seashells. In a secondary cremation, a flint arrowhead was found dating to c.2500 BC, showing the tomb was reused in later periods. Maeve's cairn is located 5km west of Sligo City.

From Carrowmore it is to the west, turning right at the church at Knocknahur and left at the next crossroads and then the first right. It is about a forty five minute walk to the summit.

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