Carrowmore, located just outside of Sligo, is Ireland’s largest megalithic cemetery. Some controversy surrounds how old the tombs at the site truly are, with dates ranging between 5,400 BC and 3,500 BC, but it’s widely believed Carrowmore predates Newgrange by at least 700 years.
Each of the many dolmens, passage tombs, and stone circles are identified by number rather than by name, just as they have been since 1837. However, some of the tombs are “missing” – of the 60 originally described, only 30 have survived years of stone quarrying and general disruption. These remaining tombs are almost all partial examples, but generally would have displayed short passages with small inner chambers.
Even though these megaliths are referred to as tombs, almost none contain interred bodies. Instead, archeologists have found signs of cremated remains along with small material possessions commonly found in other Irish tombs.
Tomb 51 is the largest and most complete, sitting at the complex’s highest point. Known as Listoghil, it’s the only tomb still covered by a cairn and measures slightly over 111 feet (33 m) in diameter. Some restoration has been performed, including the addition of a public viewing platform of the cairn’s inner chamber. From Listoghil, it’s also possible to see Queen Maeve’s cairn on nearby Knocknarea.
The site is open to the public March 24th thru October 20th from 10:00 am to 6:oo pm. Without a Heritage Card, admission to Carrowmore is 4 euro per adult, 3 euro for seniors and 2 euro for children. Guided tours are available upon request.
Additional Links & Resources:
The Golden Book: Ireland, page 96
Ireland Legends & Folklore, pages 198-201