Hmmn……memories of Sligo from a previous trip for LSM include car parking misery and a stay at the Southern Hotel. This trip is very different, but the car parking in the town centre was just as bad. Luckily we had a few wonderful experiences under our belt before we arrived today to offset the grimacing at finding a park.
We left Ballina via a quick stop in to see the Gothic revival interior of St Maedach’s Cathedral. Early morning sun dappled the overflowing planter boxes along the quayside parking, and gave a counter colour to the austere grey stone of the exterior of the building. This is especially for Cathedral buffs Terry and Anne Smith.
Basically from then on, the day was devoted to megalithic monuments and meditative moments admiring miles and miles of marvellous views. How’s that for a whole day of mmmmmmmms!
While the kms on the odometer were small, the pedometer worked overtime. Carrowmore was the first stop. This was a revisit. My love of ancient history stirred and the steps across the fields once lived on and worked by simple means was a real joy. A time where the daily grind meant pounding grain and baking and collecting simple meals…….not commuting and polluting.
The information at the visitor centre display says it much better than I could.
The view of the sacred summit of Knocknarea seen from the lowlands of Carrowwmore was too tempting. Our last visit had seen a quick drive past, but this time the #3 on the bucket list was calling strongly. Luckily LSM has plenty of reading material while he waits for me to indulge the walks.
The largest cairn in Europe and the supposed resting place of warrior Queen Maeve beckoned. It is tradition to carry a stone up the mountain to lay on her tomb to protect her….and who I am to deny tradition!
This walk was slow and steady, and the well-placed information stations gave a chance for me to catch my breath and take in the special feel of this feat of faith that saw a massive cairn placed at this high point close to the heavens.
The path was gravel and stones smoothed under the feet of many pilgrims. The authorities now preserving the site have an eye on safety as well as informing. A credit to those concerned.
Fields of yellow…..probably an invasive weed, but soooo eye catching! The inevitable sheep grazing in the privately owned land, kindly allowing access to curious trekkers.
Turning around a few times on the way up, allowed me to capture the reverse view down to Carrowmore in a straight line and to glimpse the car parking hell ahead at Sligo round on the bay. There were plenty of twists and turns on the climb, and it was steep and a challenge to one as unfit as myself.
Of particular interest was the site of the deserted village, now only a remnant wall of stone.
Made it to the top and wandered in awe around the base of the cairn. How long did it take to cart those rocks and secure the internal tomb? How many years of spiritual offerings lie within the cairn? Was Queen Maeve really buried here?
And one young enterprising teen was there offering to take photos (for a fee). Nothing changes in the world of making the most of opportunities.
So enthalled was I by the amazing 360 views, the rocks and the standing stone rings and significant pointer rocks, that I was oblivious to the clouds rolling in from the west. Yep – just as I started to descend, it started to rain.
So it was a much quicker, slipperier, slidier walk down. Fortunately, the clothes dried off in the wind once the shower passed, and I was almost dry again by the time I reached the car park. LSM had studied the maps and had other suggestions of things to see as well, but we decided to head in to Sligo.
Having spotted the b&b, we drove through town to grab a carb replacement snack for me – chips always do the trick! Parking was at such a premium, I ducked out of the car, ordered, picked up the order from the little kebab shop and hopped back in the car before a car park became available……sheesh! Sligo, what is that about? There is definitely no ‘return to Sligo’ visit in the wind! And not even a night time venture in to town – just glad to stretch out, unwind and read at the end of a great day.