This fine and well-preserved
megalith, some 8 km WSW of Louisburgh, near the crest of a ridge
overlooking the valley of the Bunsheenshough river, is visible
300 metres WNW of a track. It comprises a 2-chambered gallery
and a small subsidiary chamber behind it. The cairn rises to
the top of the gallery-stones (about 1.5 metres high) and is
over 16 metres long by 14 metres wide. The court is obscured
by cairn material and field-fences. The outstanding feature
of the tomb is the steeply-pitched, packed corbelling of large
slabs on the gallery, especially on the N side. The subsidiary
chamber is almost concealed by corbelling and by stray débris
from the cairn.
~ 3 km
NW are the standing-stones of Cloonlaur (see under Srahwee).
G 096 383
In a field to the NE
of a by-road, 1.2 km from Ballycastle, this fine and large monument
- over 27 metres long - has an elongated central court 12 metres
long by over 7 metres wide, giving access to a twin-chambered
gallery at each end. Just one lintel survives in position, while
two others have slipped into each end of the court. Excavations
showed that the tomb had been built over part of the remains
of a Neolithic rectangular timber house: a booklet on the excavation
might be bought in Ballycastle.
~ About 200 metres
S (G 098 379) is a ruined full-court tomb which has a false
entrance of jambs and flankers on the N side of the court, as
well as a true entrance.
~ 1.4 km WNW in Ballyknock
(G 083 387) are the remains of a portal-tomb comprising one
massive portal stone and a stone leaning against it which could
be either the other portal stone or the capstone. The site offers
spectacular views northwards towards Downpatrick Head and the
~ 4.2 km WNW is a court-tomb
at Glenulra (G 058 401) almost buried in peat from which
a few corbel-stones can be seen poking through. A small chamber
is exposed at the E end of the monument.
~ 5 km
NW, approached by the R.314 to Belderg, and 500 metres
SW of the Céide Fields interpretive centre (incorporating
a neolithic hut-site) at Behy (G 048 405) is a court-tomb
re-embedded in peat-bog after excavation. Only the rear of the
still-roofed gallery is now visible.
~ 5 km NW, approached
by the R.314 to Belderg, and 500 metres SW of the Céide
Fields interpretive centre (incorporating a neolithic hut-site)
at Behy (G 048 405) is a court-tomb re-embedded in peat-bog
after excavation. Only the rear of the still-roofed gallery
is now visible.
Boheh: Petroglyphs L
6.5 km SSW of Westport,
behind a house on the W side of a narrow by-road to the E of
Boheh Lough and the Westport-Leenane road, a roughly-circular
outcrop of rock known as "St Patrick's Chair" is covered
with many cup-marks, concentric rings, and maze-motifs over
an area 3 metres across.
On two days every year in (e.g. April 22nd and October 21st
2001) the setting sun rolls down Croagh
Patrick to the W, when observed from close by St Patrick's
Chair (whose view to Croagh Patrick is obscured by farm buildings).
Something similar occurs at Malin More, county Donegal.
~ 1.3 km NE in Lanmore
is 'Clogh Phadraig' or St Patrick's Stone: one of several
standing-stones in the area.
~ 4.8 km NW in Killadangan,
below Croagh Patrick, 2.5 km E of Murrisk Abbey, in a field
known as Gortbraud (L 942 828) to seaward of the road to Louisburgh,
opposite a lay-by, is a marshy field scattered with standing-stones
of various heights - many picturesquely surrounded by water.
There are remnants
of a double stone circle (? or centre-court tomb ?) 12 metres
in diameter, a line of small boulders near the road which may
be the remains of a large oval enclosure, and an alignment of
4 stones of decreasing height, of which the tallest is 1.2 metres
high, and broken.
M 474 807
In the townland of
Island, in the centre of a round mound to the E of a
by-road, is a stone (known as "Lisvaun") 1.8 metres
high and leaning backwards, which has the worn ogam
inscription CUNALEGIAV... ...QUNACANOS.
~ 8 km NNE, just over
10 km N of Ballyhaunis, is Cappagh Double-court cairn,
information on which I have lost!
~ 16 km NNE in Rusheen
East (M 557 943) is another ogam-stone
200 metres nearer the road than where the map marks it
(at a holy well). It is behind a derelict farmhouse, is
square in section and about 1.3 metres high, standing on a rocky
outcrop. The ogam inscription runs down the SW edge and is in
good condition. When last visited (2003), someone had placed
a little quartz pebble on top.
G 183 337
Almost 5 km NNW of
Killala, to the W of a by-road leading to Lackan Bay, this large,
square-sectioned stone almost 2.5 metres high was very probably
a Bronze Age standing-stone later adapted for memorial inscription
On one side the defaced inscription LEGG...SD...LE
ESCAD can be made out. On the other: MAQ
CORRBRI MAQ AMLOITT ('maq' is the modern Irish 'mac'
~ About 1.6 km S, on
the W side of the road to Lackan Bay is a very accessible (though
ruined) double-court tomb in Carbad More. At either end
of the remains of a cairn are the remnants of two almost circular
courts, each leading into its own segmented gallery. The larger
court is about 8 metres in diameter.
~ 800 metres NNE of
Carbad More, immediately E of the same road, in Rathfranpark
(G 183 332), are the remains of a large wedge-tomb built of
large, smooth boulders averaging 1.8 metres high. At the E end,
between 2 rows of double-walling, is a dump of stones from a
nearby stone circle now, alas! entirely removed. The gallery
is over 3 metres long and 2 metres wide. Two low jamb-like stones
1 metre apart, set inside the lines of the gallery walls, mark
~ 100 metres further
on (900 metres NNE of Carbad More) is another ruined wedge-tomb
in Rathfran South (G 184 335).
~ 1 km ENE of the Breastagh
stone, near the top of the hill, are two stone circles 100 metres
apart, one of which has 13 stones and is 15 metres in diameter.
The smaller circle, 7 metres in diameter, may be field clearance.
~ 2.2 km N by E, in
Carrowtrasna (G 189 363), is a fine standing-stone some
3.5 metres high, at the end of a bank or dyke..
~ 3.5 km NE, near the
top of a hillock in Carrowsteelagh (G 202 366) is a smaller,
G 314 162
7.2 km ESE of Ballina
and 4.8 km NNE of Attymas, in a field to the left a track leading
to Brohly Lough from a by-road from Bunnyconnellan to Beaufield,
this accessible tomb is very well preserved, with most of its
wedge-shaped cairn still present. Two roof stones completely
cover the 3-metre long gallery, one of which has recently been
supported by a steel bar. The taller, front (SW) end of the
tomb has a façade of 4 well-matched orthostats 3.7 metres long,
and, at the entrance, what seems to be a sill-stone. Much of
the outer-walling of the gallery is visible especially at the
E side. There is no portico. The inside of the gallery has some
dry-stone walling above and between the orthostats.
NNW in the same townland (G 308 170) are two standing-stones,
one massive and the other low, some 90 metres apart.
~ 6.5 km NE in Carrowleagh,
G 364 210 - (GPS: G 36393 20978) is a hard-to-find and
almost-intact court-tomb, about 800 metres ENE of an untarred
by-road about 400 metres S of the Owencam river. Local guidance
is essential, for, covered in vegetation and still embedded
in peat, it is indistinguishable from the landscape. It is best
to go on a Saturday (in summer or autumn), when there will probably
be someone cutting peat nearby. The court is still mainly buried
below the peat and is not visible, but wo chambers of the gallery
are accessible, covered by two very large overlapping roofstones
which are supported on up to three tiers of corbelling packed
with small stones. The corbels in turn rest on four orthostats
on the N side and three on the S side. The interior of this
sepulchre is most impressively constructed and shows some of
the detail missing from most surviving tombs of this kind.
~ 1700 metres NW of
the court-tomb, and about 600 metres N of the Owencam river
in a conifer plantation is a wedge-tomb: G 352 222 (GPS G
35226 22243). It is also embedded in peat and even harder
to locate. Portico, double-walling and 2 roofstones survive.
As with the court-tomb, the chinkless chamber, mostly surrounded
by peat, gives a rare impression of the snugness of these homes
for the dead.
~ 3 km SW in Corrower
(G 295 143) behind a farmhouse but visible from the road is
a fine, thin standing-stone some 2.8 metres high and one metre
wide. An ogam
inscription said to read MAQ CERAN AVI ATHECETAIMIN
was added later.
~ 8 km NW is a megalithic
kist on the edge of Ballina town, known as "The
Dolmen of the Four Maols", beside
a by-road running SW towards Lough Conn. One of the side-stones
has been removed (the fourth is 5 metres away) and the massive
capstone has moved slightly. On one side are what seems to be
a perfectly arranged hexagon of cup marks, but these are simply
where a sign used to be attached.
The kist used to offer unparalleled views of the railway freight
yard below - but now the scene has the rooftops of buildings
that have been built around the knoll upon which this monument
stands. The knoll has actually been drastically cut away to
provide more space for building, so that the rooflines are just
metres from the little enclosure around the kist!
~ 8 km NE in in
Prebaun (G 331 061) is a collapsed portal-tomb whose capstone
is about 4 metres by 2 and 40 cms thick, and rests on several
collapsed stones. One portal stone protrudes from under the
capstone, broken off at the base, not dug up: the stump can
clearly be seen. The site is higher than for most portal tombs
and affords splendid views, especially to the NW.
~ 16.4 km NE in Carrowreagh,
county Sligo, 3.2 km NW of Aclare, at a height of about 250
metres and extremely difficult to locate across featureless
bog lie two court-tombs embedded in the peat. The more southerly
(G 384 124) is probably the best-preserved in Ireland. Entry
can be made only through a small hole in the roof, which is
corbelled with high-pitched slabs in two and three tiers over
low orthostats. As with the tomb in Carrowleagh in county Mayo
(some 9.6 km NNW) the court is entirely concealed by cairn and
G 083 168
Less than 3 km W of
Crossmolina, to the S of the road to Belmullet and W of a farm,
a very extensive cairn, 56 metres long contains three separate
tombs. An incomplete, elongated court at the E end opens into
a two-chambered gallery. To the W, and on a slightly different
axis, is another tomb with a (transeptal) side-chamber off the
S side of its large first chamber, leading into a mass of cairn
material which may hide other features. Farther again to the
W, and on the same axis, is a three-chambered gallery which
may have a forecourt facing W. The cairn would seem, therefore,
to house a double-court tomb which was extended by the addition
of a single court-tomb to the E, containing the (not necessarily
contemporaneous) transeptal chamber.
same townland is a fine pair of massive standing-stones.
M 149 543
Behind a house at the
SW corner of the bridge at the E end of the town is Leac
na bPoll ('Slab with Hollows'): a fine multiple-bullaun
with three large basins up to 45 cms in diameter and half as
deep. Domestic refuse (a serious problem all over Ireland) may
have to be cleared from the slab-boulder which is protected
by a concrete surround.
~ Just over 1 km NE
of Cong (M 163 558) is the least ruined of several of an isolated
group of stone circles, about 18 metres across, erected on a
platform cut into the slope. Inside the circle is a kerbed cairn.
Eighteen of perhaps 30 original stones still stand, with a recumbent
or axial stone, with flankers, at the N.
At the opposite side
of the ring, a single portal-stone remains - a fine example
of the local decayed limestone with many natural Bullaun-like
hollows which doubtless imbued it with magical power.
km NW at Dringeen Oughter (M 132 572) is a limestone
standing-stone 1.8 metres high in a very pleasant setting in
a dip with restricted views. The W face is smooth and straight
while the E side is hunched.
~ A little over 2 km
W by S in Cregdotia on moss-covered and treacherously-fissured
limestone pavement (M 129 555) is a well-preserved wedge-tomb
with much of its cairn remaining up to roof-height. The chamber
has been opened by splitting the roofstone, which is supported
on two massive side-slabs and a single back-slab, and it is
totally separated from the debris-strewn antechamber. The fine
lintelled entrance is intact but is missing its door-slab.
~ The area between
Cong and Tuam is rich in 'ring-forts' (defended farmsteads),
forts and souterrains.
And in Ballymacgibbon North, 4.8 km E of Cong, 300 metres
N of the Cong-Headford road, up a grassy lane, is a large cairn
of stones 30 metres in diameter and 7 metres high, which probably
contains a passage tomb. The little tower on the top is, of
course, not original!
Ritual enclosure or inaugural site
M 268 580
About 50 metres N of
the Shrule-Kilmaine road (N.40), this interesting monument consists
of a central saucer-shaped area over 30 metres in diameter,
surrounded by two double banks and deep ditches. On the outer
edge of the outer bank 135 low stones (about 12.4 metres high)
are set. Several have tumbled, but they are best preserved on
the S side where they are one pace apart. Originally there would
have been as many as 340 stones. The imposing, wide entrance
is on the E side, and the whole structure is about 90 metres
circle of stones and the unstrategic siting of the enclosure
strongly suggest a ceremonial rather than a defensive function.
It was, regrettably, dug into by treasure-seekers at the end
of the nineteen-sixties.
This little circle
lies on a lower slope of Barnacuille surveying Broad Haven and
the cliffs of Rinroe on the promontory of Benwee Head. There
are six stones left: five are 1.4 metres high and pointed, and
the sixth is a taller, rectangular outlier. 200 metres W are
the indefinite remains of a court-tomb. The lore associated
with it can be read on theVoices
from the Dawn website.
~ 1.6 km E by N, in
Rosdoagh (F 827 383) is "The Druids' Circles"
- in fact, a large court-tomb whose unimpressive remains consist
mainly of a kerb of an almost-circular cairn some 18 metres
in diameter, and sixteen surviving stones of once-impressive
central court. The site with fine views has been ruined by the
usual hideous bungalow plonked right beside it.
~ 22 km SW at the highest
point of the SW end of the dreary Mullet Peninsula (F 606 197
?) in Tonadoon or Letterbeg not far from a Promontory
Fort, is to be a remarkable and bogus stone circle known
whimsically known as St Dervla's Twist, and erected as
part of the Mullet Sculpture Trail in 1989.
or Dunfeeny: Standing-stone and Promontory-fort
G 085 398
3.2 km NW of Ballycastle,
to the SE of a track running SW from the coast road, this impressive
square-sectioned, slightly-leaning pillar stands over 5 metres
high. It is a fine example of a pre-Christian monument which
was Christianised some time before the 12th century - by two
crosses (one with birds' head designs) at the bottom, and by
monastic settlement. From it fine views can be had of Doonbristy,
a stack (or headland cut off by the sea) on which are the remains
of a promontory-fort.
Drumcollagh or Drumgollagh: Court-tomb
F 799 049
Sheets 22 and 30
In a field 90 metres
SW of a by-road, this fine, interesting and well-preserved tomb
is built of large stones up to 1.8 metres high. The west end
of the gallery's rear chamber is covered by a large roofstone
(with three alleged cup-marks on its upper surface) some 3.6
by 2.4 metres in size. At the E end a short antechamber leads
through massive jambs to the first chamber, which is blocked
at the W end by a large septal slab. This fits flush with the
jamb-stone on the S side, except at the bottom where there is
a triangular opening (for bone-touching ? a spirit-hole ?).
At the top of the N side there is a corresponding (artificial
?) concavity in the stone. The dry-stone walling at this side
of the slab is not original, for the tomb was used as a calf-shed
and covered by a pitched roof of sods and rough thatch, the
base of which was still visible in 1978 on the N side of the
gallery as a low bank on top of cairn-remnants. Two displaced
stones at the front of the tomb are probably lintels. The photo
shows the view from the rear.
~ 1.5 km NNW in a field
to the SW side of a track in Kildun are two standing-stones,
one of which was Christianised with a false-relief cross-pattée
in a circle on the W face.
~ 2.5 km due North
in Castlehill (F 797 074) is a wedge-tomb, still set
in its small cairn. A rhododendron grows out of the ruined gallery
which is 3 metres long, and one roofstone remains in place,
while others lie about. 100 metres SE is another tomb with no
cairn.There is some double walling left and the roofstones are
still in place, resting on top of a fill of cairn rubble. The
sides of the gallery (1.5 metres wide) are formed by three slabs,
each about 1 metre square.
Built into a ruined building on the opposite side of the road
is what could have been a standing stone before it was inserted
as a lintel above the fireplace.
~ Just over 15 km W
by N in Keel East on the slopes of Slievemore on Achill
Island is a full-court tomb (F 646 074) immediately
E of the abandoned
village of Slievemore, with an almost circular court over
6 metres long by 5 metres wide. This leads through well-matched
jambs into a gallery which had two (or maybe three) chambers.
The straight-sided cairn is nearly 20 metres long and 10 metres
wide, and points N straight into the mountain. In 2003 this
funerary monument was entirely enveloped by gorse-bushes.
400 metres NE of this tomb (F 649 076 - best accessed by a signposted
steep path from the road below) is another full-court tomb also
aligned N-S, but with a much narrower court entered through
a narrow passage between transverse orthostats. A massive capstone
still remains at the back of its (two- or maybe three-chambered)
gallery, and corbelling can be seen on its W side. The S end
of the cairn is buried in bog. From this tomb are marvellous
Just beyond the W end
of the deserted village is a heavily-quarried quartz outcrop.
It is huge today, but originally it must have been massively
impressive. One cannot help but think that this may have been
a place of great power and sanctity for the early inhabitants
of this island.
4.8 km W of the court-tomb at Keel East in Slievemore
(F 602 076), just a few metres E of Annagh Strand, is a roofless
portal-tomb, which requires some effort to get to. Two uprights
survive (probably a portal-stone 2 metres high, and the door-stone)
plus two large slabs from the chamber, one of them (perhaps
the roof-stone ?) displaced.
In the same townland of Slievemore (F 594 079 and not
marked on the map) are several ruins dating from prehistoric
to modern times. One seems to be a very small and almost complete
wedge-tomb still largely covered. There is also an arrangement
of stones which might be the remains of a tomb-gallery. A fine
dry-stone clochán or stone hut stands nearby,
as well as the shell of a modern house. Just below the site
is Lough Nakeeroge, a beautiful lake that is separated from
the sea by just a few metres. 300 metres SW are three stones
forming an arc, which may be the remains of a stone circle.
There are other tombs
on the island, including another (damaged) court-tomb in Dookinelly
(F 655 069), and a remote one (more easily approached in a boat
across Blacksod Bay). The remains of a portal-tomb in Doogort
West (F 652 072) which, like the tombs of Keel East, faces
up into the mountain side. All that now stands is one portal
stone over two metres high, and its accompanying side-stone,
set slightly outside the line of the portal stone. Another slab
rests against these and could be the stump of the other portal
stone or a bit of the other sidestone.
the way to the Slievemore tombs, S of the R 319 and 7.5
km ESE of the portal-tomb (12.5 km W by N of Drumcollagh),
is an overgrown crannóg
in Loughannascaddy (F 673 053), with indications of a
submerged causeway or stepping-stones.
G 166 388
Situated just S of
a conifer-plantation and less than 200 metres to the W of a
by-road, this tomb emerged recently from the peat-bog which
preserved it. As one might expect in county Mayo, it is an exceptionally
well-preserved example of a court-tomb, retaining almost the
entire cairn, though the roofstones are not in situ.
Even a thin door-stone (moved to the left) has - most unusually
- survived. A low stone sits in front of the entrance, whose
massive jambs are flanked by the two quarter-circles of the
almost-complete court. The low, three-chambered gallery is nearly
6 metres long. The tomb was recently discovered only because
a standing-stone was investigated and found to be a tilted roofstone.
Four men and three women lifted the slab with wooden poles and
ropes and replaced it in about an hour!
The court faces just
S of E. Nephin mountain dominates the southern horizon, so one
would expect the tomb to have a N-S axis. But visible over 50
km to the E - across headlands and Sligo
Bay - is Knocknarea with 'Maeve's Cairn' on top.
The tomb was excavated in 1990 as part of a megalithic complex
of seventeen 'house-sites' of various shapes and sizes and eleven
megalithic tombs scattered throughout a pre-bog stone-walled
field system in an area of four square miles (almost 10.4 square
km). A small square neolithic house was found, and this was
thought to indicate a function connected with the rituals of
burial within the tomb rather than as a 'normal' domestic dwelling.
It is a great pity that the roof-stones were not replaced, for
it would have been easy to do so, and the effect would have
~ 6 km SSE is the wedge-tomb
at Rathfranpark (see under Breastagh, above) and
800 metres SSW of it, another court-tomb at Carbad More.
~ 5 km ESE at Ballinlena
(G 213 373) in an overgrown graveyard landward of the ruined
early dry-stone St Cummin's Church with charming and fragile
E window, is a mound marked by two tall pillarstones (one of
them Christianised with a Latin cross), between which is a fine
Nearby is an early
sun-dial and another slab. There was once a celebrated 'cursing-stone'
(Leac Cuimín) which was owned by a local family
whom one paid to perform a curse on the stone against whomever
one had a grievance. St Cummin's Well is in a small enclosure
to the N. The various stones are now part of a pattern
or túras, reminiscent of Glencolmcille in Donegal
where some of the stations of its túras are actually
~ 5 km SSE is Breastagh
L 793 746
9.6 km S of Louisburgh,
immediately NE of a by-road and Lough Nahaltora (Altar Lake),
this well-preserved sepulchre was in a very beautiful situation
by the roadside before a tasteless bungalow was plonked nearby.
A single large roofstone covers most of the main chamber of
the gallery, which is 4.2 metres long. Double-walling, a fine
large septal slab, and traces of the cairn survive. As 'The
Altar Well' (Tobernahaltora) it was formerly venerated
as a holy well. It is now part of the 'Clew Bay Trail'. Interestingly,
to the north, is obscured by a rock-outcrop.
~ About 2 km SE (L
814 732), just N of the road, is a handsome standing-stone which
affords an impressive view of Croagh Patrick to the NE.
~ Nearly 4 km WSW is
km WNW, in Cloonlaur (L 744 758), is a pair of standing-stones
just 100 metres from the Atlantic ocean. The larger is an impressive
3.6 metres high and 1.3 metres wide, while the smaller one,
7 metres away, is only 1.4 metres tall. Could it once have had
one or more stones in between, in descending height ? They align
on the highest point of Inishbofin, a small island 11 km to