Tuesday, November 11, 2008


There is an epic suggestiveness which you cannot miss if you climb the mountain. You cannot keep your hold upon the present while you are up there.
—William Bulfin

A 45-minute plod up Knocknarea (from the Irish Cnoc na RĂ­), at an elevation of 329m, brings you to an enormous cairn known as Queen Maeve's Tomb. Here it is, blanketed in mid-morning fog:

We walked up here last weekend with a few of Brendan's friends. The cairn is 55m wide and 10m high, and likely dates to the beginning of the third millennium B.C. It's never been excavated, but archaeologists speculate that the whole thing weighs 40,000 tons, and that there might be a passage tomb underneath on par with Newgrange. Forty thousand tons and counting, because people follow the tradition of bringing a stone from the bottom of the hill to drop on the cairn. Actually, according to the lovely lady who runs the B&B we stayed at (Pearse Lodge, on Pearse Road, a ten-minute walk from town—definitely getting "top pick" in the second edition), the original tradition was to take a stone away from the cairn. Obviously that couldn't go on indefinitely, so the Tourist Board reversed the tradition! There are similar traditions associated with lots of other mountains around the country.

The view from the summit has to be awesome, but both times I've visited it's been too foggy to see anything. These shots were taken on the way down (in the first one everybody is taking turns shouting into the valley and waiting for the echoes):

Sligo is beautiful, isn't it?

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