High on the mountainside beside the main R295, the main Ballymote to Boyle road, can be seen a line of 17 cave entrances, known locally as the Kesh Caves.

The Kesh Caves were used by man since prehistoric times, and were the site of ritual gatherings at seasonal festivals such as Lugnasa , a Gaelic festival marking the beginning of the harvest season, which was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man, and was originally held on August 1st, or about halfway between the summer solstice and autumn equinox.

If you wish to explore the caves of Kesh (or Keash), its a walk which, although quite steep and tiring, always promises an afternoon of adventure, you should first of all make your way to Ballymote, then onto the R295), the main Ballymote to Boyle road, where very soon you will be able to see the unforgettable sight of the 17 cave entrances, as sight made all the more special in the last light of a summers day.

Unfortunetely, the caves are rather difficult to access, entailing a steep climb up a hillside, though the walk is well worth the effort, for you will splendor at the surrounding countryside from the entrance to Cormac’s Cave, from where you will be able to see the lake-dotted plains of southern Sligo, east Mayo, and Roscommon, and the Mayo highlands ight down to Achill, Croagh Patrick, and Maamtrasna, with Lough Mask and Lough Corrib gleaming in the distance. These view are only possible if you make the effort.

And that effort has recently been made somewhat easier with a recently opened walk from the village of Keash up to the Kesh Caves.

To enjoy the spectacular sights from the Kesh Caves, first of all go to Ballymote then onto the R295 Ballymote to Boyle road as far as the little village of Keash, when you see the >em>Welome to Keash sign, take the first left turn which leads towards a school and at the far end of the road, to the right, there is a church. Park your car here (I’m assuming you’re travelling by car) and follow the way-marked route from the church, along the narrow road beneath Keshcorran.

After passng a left turn, continue a further 250 metres up the road to a stile on the right side of the road. Follow the way-marked route to the right along the field boundary. Cross a stone stile and continue along the route to the left up the hillside. Turn right and make your way carefully up the hill following the waymarkers along the sheep path to a viewing point just before the caves.

During an exploratory search of the caves in 1901, a number of bones belonging to the European Brown Bear and its prey species, which led the explorers to wonder why these caves, which appeared to be “so suitable in every way for human occupation,” contained no evidence of their ever having been inhabitated by humans.

The largest of the caves is known as Cormac’s Cave, and it was here, so the story goes, that the most renowned of the Irish High Kings, Cormac Mac Airt was reared by a wolf who stole him from his mother. It is from this Cormac that King’s Mountain gets its name.

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