One of the best parts about seeing this site is finding your way to it. If you walk east from the main cairns at Carrowkeel (County Sligo) (being careful to stop at the cliff edge) you can look down on the magnificent place. With Lough Arrow beyond, the setting is very impressive. A large plateau rises up above the land below with sheer cliffs all around it. At the southern end a massive cliff rises up from its surface with two cairns on the top (Carrowkeel O & P), giving it the appearance of a big rock Imperial Battle Cruiser from Star Wars! There appears to be no easy way up ... there isn't!
When you do find the way up (it's at the north end) the whole journey takes on a whole new perspective. Finding the seemingly natural staircase in the cliff makes you feel like an explorer. You have no idea what really awaits you on the top once you get there. This is great fun!
Once up the plateau is actually three levels, each one rising up slightly until you reach the rough limestone plateau, which like the Burren ones is riddled with fissures and natural bullauns. Stone shining white and captured water glinting in the sun. Wow! But how did folks live up here?
The huts are now indicated by bits of lifted slab arranged as circular foundations. There are a couple of isolated examples on the western side, but the majority form an interconnected line along the eastern edge. It's like a prehistoric highstreet!
The ground must have been very different when people lived here - the rock must have been covered by soil, otherwise you'd have broken your legs everytime you stepped out of the front door! Most of the houses have all the eroded limstone removed from the inside, but not all of them. This just adds to the mystery.
A wall across the plateau blocks the views to the north from most of the site, but when you do get a view along the row of hut circles guess where they're pointing at ... yup ... Maeve's Cairn (County Sligo)!
Is everyone sure that this was just a habitation site?
I had intended to climb up to cairns O & P, but I was too tired. Next time maybe ...
This is an explanation of (and a bit of a disclaimer for) the coordinates I provide.
Where a GPS figure is given this is the master for all other coordinates. According to my Garmin these are quite accurate.
Where there is no GPS figure the 6 figure grid reference is master for the others. This may not be very accurate as it could have come from the OS maps and could have been read by eye. Consequently, all other cordinates are going to have inaccuracies.
The calculation of Longitude and Latitude uses an algorithm that is not 100% accurate. The long/lat figures are used as a basis for calculating the UTM & ITM coordinates. Consequently, UTM & ITM coordinates are slightly out.
UTM is a global coordinate system - Universal Transverse Mercator - that is at the core of the GPS system.
ITM is the new coordinate system - Irish Transverse Mercator - that is more accurate and more GPS friendly than the Irish Grid Reference system. This will be used on the next generation of Irish OS maps.