Located approximately 5 kilometres from the centre of Sligo Town lies Carrowmore, (co-ordinates 54.25271 -8.52251) home to the largest Megalithic Cemetery in Ireland, and one of the most significant sites of it’s kind in Europe with over 60 tombs having been located by archaeologists, the oldest of which pre-date Newgrange, in County Meath, by some 700 years – Newgrange itself being 5000 years old.
The tombs are spread out over 3.8 square kilometres, in the shadow of Knocknarea Mountain to the east, one of the tombs in the cemetery is said to date back to 3,000 years before the pyramids and is possibly the oldest building in the world.
Nearly 100 ancient monuments were originally present on this extensive site, though academic vandalism in Victorian times and modern gravel quarrying have left only about 65 sites.
The majority of tombs are a mixture of small passage-tombs and dolmens, usually surrounded by a stone kerb and constructed with the large rounded granite boulders from the area.
On this site there are several examples of what appear to be stone circles but which are, in fact, the kerbing stones of cairns which have disappeared.
One of the largest tombs is known as Listoghil, a large stone cairn with carvings on its sill and capstone.
There is also an early version of the passage-tomb, in a cruciform shape, it’s one of the largest surviving monuments of the Carrowmore cemetery.
A small visitor centre with information on the Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery is housed in a restored cottage, which is managed by the Office of Public Works, which charges the nominal admission fee of only €3.00 which includes a 45 minute guided tour of the site, though unfortunately the tombs are inaccessible to people with disabilities and visitors are strongly advised to wear shoes suitable for walking on uneven terrain.