It’s a rare visitor to Ireland who does not have Ancient Sites on their wish list of things to see in Ireland. While the Big Name is Brú na Boínne (Newgrange), a World Heritage Site, there are many other Ancient Sites around Ireland to visit.
Newgrange is of especial interest as the winter solstice dawn illuminates the chamber each year. Tickets to be admitted to the chamber are dispersed by lottery and people can wait many years to see this magical event.
Lesser known but of as much archaeological and heritage significance are Carrowmore and Carrowkeel in County Sligo. Carrowmore, in the shadow of Queen Maeve’s Cairn on Knocknarea, has passage tombs just as Newgrange, which date from 4000-3500 BCE. Unlike Newgrange, Carrowmore is aligned to both the north star and the summer solstice alignment. In this ancient site complex close to Sligo town you will find many dolmens, stone circles, chambered cairns and other revenants of ancient Ireland.
Just north of Sligo Town in Cliffoney there is a very good example of a court tomb. Creevykeel is 6000 years old and one of the largest court tombs extant in Ireland. There is also evidence of an Iron Age smelting pit at this ancient site.
South of Sligo Town in the Bricklieve Mountains is Carrowkeel. Apart from the chambered cairns, it is near to Moytura where the legendary race of Fairy Folk, the Tuatha de Danaan were defeated in a battle that drove them into the underworld. On clear days spectacular views of the surrounding landscape spread before you. Because of the limestone landscape there are many fossils that keen geology students will notice.
The Cavan Burren Forest includes both megalithic and neolithic ancient sites within the 200 plus acreage of forestry owned by the Irish Forestry Commission, Coillte. This ancient site is located in West Cavan near the village of Blacklion and is about a hour’s drive east of Sligo Town. This ancient site is also close by the Shannon Pot, where the River Shannon, the longest river in the British Isles, rises from underground caverns in county Fermanagh under the international boundary to surface in County Cavan.
There is a small, superb stone circle at Drumskinny in County Fermanagh. Northern Ireland also has its fair share of ancient sites especially those of relevance to the early Celtic Christian church.
As you can see this is not an exhaustive list of potential ancient sites to visit but it does includes some of those of most archaeological and heritage significance.