A few weekends ago I had the opportunity to visit and stay in County Sligo in an eco-lodge. Part of our stay in Sligo included hiking up the Knocknarea and Carrowkeel mountains to see neolithic passage tombs. The first mountain, Knocknarea, houses one large neolithic tomb made out of large stones piled on top of one another. After the steep hike up the mountain, we finally reached the top where a looming tomb, 60 meters wide and 10 meters tall, stood. Our tour guide gave us some history on the tomb, in which Iron Age Queen Maeve of Connacht is buried. It is said that Queen Maeve is buried upright, dressed for battle in her armor and facing her enemies in Ulster, yet it cannot be known for certain as the tomb has never been excavated. It was nice to hear that part of Ireland’s history has gone untouched, and can only be admired from a distance. However, people who choose to venture up the mountain are allowed to take part in ancient Irish tradition of adding a stone to the tomb, which I did when we began making our way back down the mountain.
The next day, we hiked up Carrowkeel Mountain, which contains multiple neolithic tombs. Because so many of the tombs have been excavated, I was able to crawl in one and appreciate the architecture of the tomb from the inside. Although it appeared tiny from the outside, once I had crawled through the opening, there was enough space for me to stand and sit comfortably. While sitting inside, our tour guide came in and played Irish bagpipes. Sitting in a neolithic tomb more than 5,000 years old while listening to an Irish instrument was a captivating experience. Overall, my trip to Sligo proved to be very informative and eye opening, as I learned about Irish history first hand.
By: Isabel Baird