Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery is the largest cemetery of tombs in Ireland with approximately 60 sites available to view. Originally it is believed that there were nearer to 100 cairns, dolmens and stone circles. The oldest tombs on this site are said to be 700 years older than the Passage Tomb at Newgrange. The largest of the cairns is Cairn 51 (also called Listoghil) and it makes a spectacular sight. Driving around the lanes surrounding Carrowmore you can see the evidence of this pre-historic activity in this area, there are Dolmens jutting out of hedges and farm out buildings and there are many standing stones. The ritual landscape of Sligo is very apparent.
When you arrive at the site there is a small visitor centre and car park, the majority of tombs themselves are only accessed through this visitor centre but admission charges are very reasonable (approx 2Euro). A really helpful guide in the centre had loads of information about the history of the excavations and the connections with the Boyne Valley range of tombs.
There are a small selection of tombs in a field opposite the main site.
You must wear sturdy shoes as the site is sometimes wet.
I had a really enjoyable few hours here and while not the best preserved archaeology of Sligo it is certainly part of the story and should be visited in conjunction with Creevykeel, Knocknarea and Carrowkeel.
Carrowkeel is a superb site of passage tombs set in the Bricklieve Mountains in Sligo. The tombs are not huge (when compared with Maeve'e Cairn or Newgrange) but they are accessible and well preserved, apart from some obvious removal of some stones.
These tombs are well placed to create the ritual landscape the Neolithic people wanted and evidence/remains of a prehistoric village is in a lower depression in the mountains.
The drive to the tombs is well signed from the main road and as you get nearer the road quality does deteriorate. You have two choices: park the car at the bottom of the long lane that goes to the site and walk up into the mountain or (as we did) drive the car as far up the path as it will allow and then set off on foot. It is a strenuous walk and the weather here is sometimes inclement so be prepared - I wasn't and got drenched!!
The views of Lough Arrow from the mountain side are brilliant and the tombs themselves are so worth the trek up the mountain side. You really get a sense of the isolation and hardship that these Neolithic communities must have experienced. The cairns themselves are in a good state of preservation and some have the light boxes that allow the summer/winter equinox to be celebrated. This is a unique feature and is found also at Newgrange Passage tomb.
Glencar Falls can be found on the Sligo/Leitrim border about 8 miles north of Sligo Town. This is a beautiful spot, suitable for a picnic and the viewing point has wooden stairs which enables the visitor to climb up right beside the falls. It is a wonderfully green, wooded area and is the very place that W B Yeats wrote about in "The Stolen Child":
"Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,.
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,"
The falls flow into Glencar Lough at this point. This place is not to be missed when visiting the Sligo area.
Creevykeel is one of the best restored Court Tombs in Ireland and at over 60 metres long is also one of the longest. This tomb is on the main road and the only available parking as such is a large layby area in front of the walled field that houses the tomb.
You can walk along the passage that was the original entrance to the tomb and as the site is totaly accessible you can walk through the entirety of the tomb and imagine the ritual usage.
There is evidence that early Irish Christians used this site over time too (kiln still in place). Neolithic and Bronze age artefacts and some cremated bone remains were found here during investigations.
This is a lovely site and is all the better for being able to climb, walk and thoroughly experience the remains.
Lough Gill is so very beautiful that it was the subject of many a poem by William Butler Yeats, not the least of which was his famous "Isle of Innisfree." He wrote the poem when he felt homesick for Ireland and imagined the sound of the water at Innisfree. Also on the banks of Lough Gill you can climb Dooney Rock where you can see it all.
The Garavogue River has Loch Gill as its last stop before spilling out into the waters of Sligo Bay. It is surrounded on all sides by hills and mountains, and is a favourite fishing ground and makes a wonderful day's excursion in a row boat, which one can rent nearby.
To see the Lough at its very best, my recommendation is that you drive around it late in the day. It is the most beautiful sight to see at twilight.
Sligo Town is quite a busy area, and its narrow streets are very vibrant and colourful for a place so relatively obscure and far away from other major cities. There is a large variety of shops (I'm always attracted to book shops and there were lots of them here), and there is a McDonald's for anyone who's an unhealthy fast-food fan like me.
Any fan of W B Yeats or any visitor wanting to tick off the Sligo to do list must visit Drumcliffe Churchyard and see the famous headstone with the epitaph that makes it so. Yeats wanted to be buried under Ben Bulben's head - the huge mountain that hovers over Sligo (North of the town heading towards Donegal: N15). His body was brought back to Ireland from France in 1948. Yeats great grandfather was the rector of Drumcliffe hence the connection.
The Churchyard is located in a lovely little village called Drumcliffe (also nearby is Lissadell) and there are many lovely B&B's in this area. There is a super restaurant on the main road through Drumcliffe, not far from the churchyard and the food here is excellent quality - it gets very busy however and being the est food in the area you need to be patient.
The area is a hotbed of early Christian activity, in 574 St Columba started a monastery at Drumcliffe. There is a 10th century High Cross which is has Biblical scenes carved into its sides, used to teach the Christian faith to illiterate and people who were new to the faith.
There is a Round Tower nearby which had many functions - local Sligo legend says the tower will fall down when the wisest man ever, passes by it!!!
The church does exhibitions and videos but not all the time. While the grave is a must see it is also less than you would expect - it is very simple and unassuming.
The Holy Well is one of the most peaceful places that I have ever had the privilege to visit. I go there every time I visit Ireland. Situated at the South West corner of Lough Gil in Co. Sligo, the site was used by Catholics during the penal times when they were not allowed by law to practise their faith. It is certainly not on the tourist path in Ireland, but if you are on a driving tour in the area, I can certainly recommend that you visit. Of special interest to Catholics of course, it has a beautiful stone altar and markers all around the site for the praying of the rosary.
Sligo's favourite son was of course, the poet William Butler Yeats who is thought to be buried in the Graveyard at Drumcliff just north of Sligo Town.
You can visit the Yeats Centre in Sligo Town and become very informed about the man, his life and his work.
More info here:
The centre also houses a wonderful little cafe where you can stop for tea/coffee and cake.
Strandhill Beach is a lovely but quite stony beach to the South of Sligo Town (follow signs for Strandhill Airport and turn left at the roundabout by the church). The beach is lovely for a walk not great for sunbathing though!! The Atlantic Ocean and its very rough tidal currents make this area unsuitable for swimming in my opinion but that doesn't stop the mad surfers who brave the freezing cold and very wavy water each weekend. This area has surf shops and surf schools available. This area harvests the large amount of organic seaweed that arrives on the beach and it finds its way to the Celtic Seaweed Therapy centre on the front. This centre specialises in seaweed baths and treatments at quite cheap prices - they are meant to revitalise and cleanse you!! The Strandhill area makes a nice drive but be warned it is frequently rainy and cold ;-)
There is a wonderful river walk in Sligo Town which runs right along the Garavogue River.
Plenty to see and plenty of shops and cafes as well.
The River Garavogue is a fascinating river which runs very quickly and roughly in some parts which adds to its attraction.
It's a great part of any walk around Sligo Town as are the historical buildings and shops.
Blink and you'll miss it - that's Drumcliff, Co. Sligo. Only be sure you don't blink before you pull into the carpark at the Church of Ireland and have a look around. You won't be sorry that you did.
Here is the resting place of the iconic William Butler Yeats, though it is widely believed that he is in actual fact, interred somewhere in the North of France. Who knows? Have your photo taken with him anyway.
An interesting point that should be mentioned is that the two beautiful bronze swans which adorn the main door of the church were a gift from the Yeats Society of Western Australia. The Celtic Cross in the churchyard dates back to the eighth century.
This is really a place to isit if you are interested in the heritage of the rural communities that make up Sligo, the focus is on traditional skills and farming.
There are mant things to see if you visit including a super museum about the history of Rverstown and the agricultural history of the area, replica cottages and farming equipment a working forge, occassional exhibitions and a craft shop selling good local produce and craft goods (like knitwear).
The Folkpark is well signed when you head south on the N4 and is relatively inexpensive - 6 euros per adult.
Sligo is a small town in County Sligo in Eire. It has quaint brightly painted shops and houses and it is great for a afternoon stroll around the shops.
The pace of life in Sligo and Eire in general is slower and more calm than the UK. Bookshops, little café’s and boutiques are the main types of shopping, although we did see a small Tesco.
The Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery is different from Stonehenge. It's actually a burial ground of tombs and among the Ireland's oldest dating back to the fifth and early fourth millennium BC (per the archeological digs in the area). There are over 60 tombs that have been located. Here also are some restored cottage houses and a small exhibit that tells you about the site. It takes about an hour to walk about the grounds which is uneven and much of it's uphill.
When we were there climbing against the wind and I was trying to keep my hair from flying in my mouth, I kept thinking how much fun it would be to dig one of these mounds up to see if there are bones in them, maybe someone has?.
See the Website below for more information.
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