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<b>Knocknarea</b>Posted by bogmanImage © Charles Coughlan
Also known as:
  • Maeve's Cairn
  • Miosgan Meadhbha

Nearest Town:Strandhill (2km WNW)
OS Ref (IE):   G625346 / Sheets: 16, 25
Latitude:54° 15' 31.57" N
Longitude:   8° 34' 31.77" W

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North tomb Passage Grave


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Conservation plan required for cairn of Queen Maeve atop Knocknarea

A meeting of Sligo County Council has heard there is an incredible amount of damage being done to one of the most significant historic monuments in the country, the stone cairn over Queen Maeve’s grave on the summit of Knocknarea... continues...
ryaner Posted by ryaner
13th November 2019ce

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<b>Knocknarea</b>Posted by thelonious <b>Knocknarea</b>Posted by thelonious <b>Knocknarea</b>Posted by Nucleus <b>Knocknarea</b>Posted by Nucleus <b>Knocknarea</b>Posted by Nucleus <b>Knocknarea</b>Posted by Nucleus <b>Knocknarea</b>Posted by Nucleus <b>Knocknarea</b>Posted by costaexpress <b>Knocknarea</b>Posted by costaexpress <b>Knocknarea</b>Posted by costaexpress <b>Knocknarea</b>Posted by costaexpress <b>Knocknarea</b>Posted by bogman <b>Knocknarea</b>Posted by ryaner <b>Knocknarea</b>Posted by ryaner <b>Knocknarea</b>Posted by caealun <b>Knocknarea</b>Posted by ryaner <b>Knocknarea</b>Posted by bawn79 <b>Knocknarea</b>Posted by bawn79 <b>Knocknarea</b>Posted by CianMcLiam <b>Knocknarea</b>Posted by CianMcLiam <b>Knocknarea</b>Posted by CianMcLiam <b>Knocknarea</b>Posted by CianMcLiam <b>Knocknarea</b>Posted by Cursuswalker <b>Knocknarea</b>Posted by Cursuswalker <b>Knocknarea</b>Posted by Cursuswalker <b>Knocknarea</b>Posted by Cursuswalker <b>Knocknarea</b>Posted by megaman


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26/08/2019 – I was pretty excited waking up. Today the plan was a visit to Knocknarea then on to Carrowmore megalithic cemetery. They looked on TMA to be two wow sites. It was misty yesterday so I was a bit worried about the hill having its cloudy hat on again today. A quick peek through the curtains and I was happily greeted by the morning sun. It was a good start.

There’s a good bus service from Sligo to Strandhill (S2 - every hour). A 20 minute journey took us to just north of the big hill along the coast at Mannionstown (Brees Pub). From here there is a great signposted walk up Knocknarea. It’s not a huge gain, maybe around 300 metres. The hill looks pretty great from this side, very steep. The track was good. There is a section of walkway that was hard going but we took our time. It wasn’t a day for rushing. The top of Knocknarea is quite flat but you still have to get close before you see the cairn and then there it is! What can I say about Maeve's cairn, it’s big, very big. It must be a good 10 metres in height. Standing next to it, the cairn just seems to grow. Stone upon stone, taller and wider. Close up my vision was just one of cairn and nothing else. It’s just fantastic.

We circled it once and then walked a little way north to the ruined cairn there. It was easier to take in from here and also the surrounding view which is very good. Luckily it was very quiet on the hill today. It’s a fine place to sit with your sandwiches and a brew and just look out to sea and along the coast. I could have stayed all day.

I liked the stones in the big cairn. There’s a lot of fossils in them, coral maybe, just guessing. Worth mentioning also that there are a lot of signs round the cairn and also on the way up asking folk not to climb the cairn. Seems a reasonable request considering how many people climb Knocknarea each year.

After one last goodbye to big Maeve and a look at the stones to the south we headed down SE towards the carpark on what looks like the main route up. It’s not as steep as the north side. Near the bottom you can loop back round the hill to the start again but we carried on, walking down the quiet roads to our next destination - Carrowmore megalithic cemetery.
thelonious Posted by thelonious
5th September 2019ce
Edited 14th September 2019ce

Although rising to a relatively modest 1,078ft, the incredible mini-mountain of Knocknarea (Cnoc na Riabh) appears much higher to the passing traveller, the result of its isolated coastal position emphasising its full elevation literally from sea level. Indeed, water would appear to be key to its significance within the landscape, the deep incursions of Sligo Harbour (to the north) and Ballysadare Bay (to the south) combining with the Garvoge River, draining Lough Gill (to the east), to form the peninsular upon which the mountain stands, to the west of the great Carrowmore megalithic cemetery. That Knocknarea and the latter are linked, I guess, must go without saying?

Knocknarea is visible - nay, dominates the skyline - for many miles around the locality, making it a suitable spot to erect surely one of the most enigmatic pile of stones in all Ireland... Miosgan Meadhbha, or Maeve's Cairn. Unexcavated, like nearby Heapstown Cairn, the monument is on a par with the great passage graves of Bru na Boinne in terms of size, but, for me, eclipses them in terms of visual impact and siting. Although generally thought to contain a burial chamber (or two) - oh come on, it must, surely? - I suppose we could even have an Irish variant upon the Silbury theme if this was found not be the case after all? Hmm. Unlikely, I think.

The monument is bordered by a substantial bank and several smaller cairns, further emphasising its stature, as well as a small prehistoric settlement to the north east. And of course there's the sweeping sea views across Sligo Bay and beyond Sligo itself to the elegant escarpment of Yeat's Benbulben, the evocative scene enhanced by cloud swirling around the cairn and across the summit plateau. Suffice to say if there isn't a great queen buried within... there bloody well should be!

Knocknarea truly has it all, so you won't be surprised to know that there's a price to pay for an audience with Queen Maeve... that of a steep climb. I'd suggest the easiest approach is the obvious one, via a pretty rough track starting from the Grange North car park to the south east.. not easy, but within the capabilities of the average mortal, I'd have thought. We took approx 45 minutes, although this included a diversion to eulogise with a typically rosy cheeked farmer over the beauty of his two magnificent horses whilst his cattle curiously looked on. Bear in mind the aforementioned cloud, however. Although a mini-mountain, normal rules apply, so take care.
20th March 2010ce
Edited 20th March 2010ce

Knocknarea dominates the landscape of its peninsula gloriously. We were camping at Strandhill and by the time we had been there for 3 days I was itching to climb it.
I had read about the old tradition of taking stones from Maeve's Tomb at the top, and how the local council were trying to encourage a new tradition of ADDING stones to the tomb instead, and I was mightily tempted to carry a large stone all the way up the hill form the beach at Strandhill.
In the event my father joined me in the climb and time constraints led to our driving half the distance and then walking from the car park at the base of the steep climb up its south east side.
The path is treacherously rough, a REAL path I prefer to call it, and you really felt you had earned reaching the top. From there it is a short easy walk to Maeve's Tomb, which looks close up distressingly like…well a pile of stones. But then again I'm from a neck of the woods where we don't have that much stone to pile up, so that was probably just me.
The real interest is on top of Maeve's Tomb, where there is another small cairn. In my photo of this all the ground around it is the top of the Tomb, which is a lot grassier than one expects. From the top you can also see words spelt out in the heathland all around the Tomb with rocks from it, presumably for good luck or in remembrance of those passed. Okay, so this does involve taking stones from the Tomb, but it was very touching to see nevertheless.
We added our stones from Strandhill beach to the cairn and it felt a great honour to add to the building of an ancient site. I did my druid thing and honoured the site with a libation of water, then we enjoyed the view, which is incredible.

From Maeve's Tomb we walked northwest to the edge of Knocknarea, to look down on Strandhill where we were staying. Wonderful views.
Returning to the Tomb I went to sit on the cairn at the top again. This time I was attacked by wasps, which I took to be a message to leave!
Cursuswalker Posted by Cursuswalker
11th October 2003ce


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This page from a travel site is of interest because it shows a picture of the cairn on top of Maeve's Tomb in 1999 (About 2/3 of the way down the page) as well as an account of a visit to Carrowmore Cemetary.

Compare the cairn in 1999 with the 2003 picture:
Cursuswalker Posted by Cursuswalker
11th October 2003ce
Edited 11th October 2003ce

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