Ballyvourney, Co. Cork
St. Gobnait’s monastic site contains two holy wells and the reputed grave of this sixth-century holy woman within a ruined prehistoric tomb. It also features a striking sheela-na-gig figure, said by some to be an image of the saint, and by others to be a remnant of a pagan goddess religion.
Inishmurray, Co. Sligo
Today a visitor on a day trip from Mullaghmore might be tempted to idealize life on this small island. But the story of Inishmurray is a tale of two communities, each now deserted, each in its own era confronting great challenges.
Killaloe, Co. Clare
Within a trench dug into the ringfort the archaeologists discovered evidence of a rectangular wooden building, paved with large slabs of stone and containing a central hearth. Can this be where Brian Boru, the “Emperor of the Gael,” lived as a youth?
Downpatrick, Co. Down
The Mound of Down, wildly overgrown with bushes and trees, is but a short walk down the hill from Down Cathedral. The Mound dates from the Iron Age; the Cathedral was first constructed in the 12th century.
Moynalty, Co. Meath
Ireland has remnants of more than 45,000 ringforts. There were once many more, now leveled and lost. That so many have survived is due in part to their being known as the homes of the fairies.
Slane, Co Meath
In 1699 the proprietor of the townland of New Grange needed stones for building. He dug into the scrub-covered mound on his land and soon discovered the mouth of a “cave.” What he found was Ireland’s most significant archaeological treasure. Newgrange is one of the oldest buildings in the world.
Knockanevin, Co. Cork
Just below the hill from the crumbling stone oratory are four standing stones, the remains of a stone circle. The oratory’s entrance, unique in Ireland, is composed of three similar pillars. Can these have been removed long ago from the stone circle?
Cushendall, Co. Antrim
This tomb was known as “Cloughbrack” on early maps. It is unclear when it became connected with Ossian and the effort to reclaim Ireland’s ancient folkloric patrimony from the fabrications of an upstart Scotsman.
Myths and Megaliths
The ancient Irish made their mark on the land with great stone and earthen structures. The legends that developed were thought to be among the earliest voices from the dawn of western civilization.