“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” ~ Martin Buber
I believe that this quote has held true on every vacation that we have taken.
After leaving Galway, we didn’t have any sort of schedule along the way – besides diaper changes and feedings for Liam. The only thing certain was that we would be driving to Ballycastle, Northern Ireland. I love the feeling of freedom that comes with wandering.
Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery
As we were scouring the map looking at the map dots for interesting names or sites, we noticed Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery, about 3km west of Sligo and thought we would take a chance.
It was a little bit off the main road but not too far. Pulling into the Visitor’s Center, we were one of two cars in the lot. Could we really have the place to ourselves? The Visitor’s Center is open March – October and for only €5.50 you can purchase a family pass to explore the area on your own or with a guided tour.
The area is pure countryside with cows grazing in the meadows, thistle flowers popping up, and plenty of space for kids to explore without fear of them getting lost. Let them run out some energy! Beware that some of the tombs are located on private property. Check with the visitor’s center to see which you are allowed to visit – they will provide a map.
Carrowmore Megalithic site is one of four major passage tomb complexes in Ireland and dating back to approximately 3700 B.C., it is also one of the oldest! The site originally had over 80 tombs and now has approximately 30 that are still mostly in tact.
The entire site is situated on a small plateau beneath the mountain Knocknarea with the great cairn of Miosgán Méabh on top. You can see the tiny lump on top of the mountain in the picture below.
Mom was having fun and photobombed the picture of Tomb 51, also known as Listoghil, the largest tomb in the cemetery at over 111 ft across. It is also the only tomb covered by a cairn. Recent excavation work exposed the rock chamber below.
This time, Ashley snuck into the picture – can you find her?
Listoghil housed this unique box structure and was the only tomb to have megalithic art in Carrowmore. This tomb was also the focal point for the cemetery because all of the other satellite tombs faced this central area.
In addition, Listoghil also has a public viewing platform built around it. After viewing the tomb, Adam, Liam and mom head out to explore the satellite tombs.
Tomb 4 is an excellent example of what the dolmens would have looked like. It has a large capstone that is supported by 5 other stones. This tomb originally contained 40 stones surrounding it, but it only has 1 remaining. I think it was one of the most unique structures in the area.
After spending several hours to explore Carrowmore and stretch our legs, we left to get back on the road to Northern Ireland. By the time we arrived, we were greeted with this amazing sunset on the ocean. Stay tuned to hear about our stay at the Crockatinney Guest House and our private visit to the Giant’s Causeway.
Have you visited any of the passage tomb sites in Ireland? Which ones? What did you think?