Clew Bay Archeological Trail

Stage 3 Louisburgh, Cluain Cearbhan (The Meadow of the Buttercups)

The Louisburgh section includes 6 sites:

1: KILGEEVER ABBEY, CILL GHAOBHAIR (THE NEAR CHURCH)

Kilgeever Abbey is a little unroofed church built on the site of an earlier Patrician church in 12th century. It is said St. Patrick visited this area in 460 AD. In the past it used to be a station on the pilgrimage way from Croagh Patrick to Caher Island and here pilgrims performed their set of prayers.

The rectangular shaped Abbey has a round-headed window in the easter gable. On the easter end of the church two niches can be seen. They were used for storing vessels. There is also a 15th century door with a pock-dressed arch and a draw-bar hole where was a beam which locked the door. In the graveyard there are two slabs dating back to the 7th century AD. They are carved with crosses.

Beside the entrance of the graveyard is the Holy Well called ‘Tabar Ri Dhomhnaigh’ or ‘Our Lord’s Well of the Sabbath’. Here pilgrims used to come on July 15th, the Festival of the 12 Apostles. Nowadays, on Reek Sunday, many people still visit the well on their way to Croagh Patrick.

On the scattered rocks, near the graveyard, many crosses can be seen. They were carved by pilgrims when their stations had been performed.

Not far from the Holy Well is a desert village, a clear historic evidence of the Great Famine when Mayo's population was reduced by half.

2: LIME KILN, MONEEN, MOININ (SMALL BOG)

Many years ago, in rural Ireland, most farms had their own lime kilns.

Kilns consisted of a bowl and a flue, in which limestone rock was burnt at a high temperature to produce lime dust. This dust was then used to spread on grass land and to whitewash cottages and houses.

The site at Mooneen, Louisburgh is a fine example of its type and has survived in its entirety. Lime kilns date from the 18th Century and in some areas were in use up until the 1940s.

3: GRANUAILE CENTRE AND FAMINE MUSEUM

Granuaile Centre will give visitors some ideas about the facts of the famous 16th century Pirate Queen, her life and times through pictures, artefacts, replicas and videos.

Grace O'Malley (1530-1600), chieftain of the Ó Máille clan, is one of Mayo's most legendary people. Nicknamed 'Granuaile' or Gráinne Mhaol ("Bald Gráinne," a reference to her close-cropped hair as a young woman) battled against the English and ruled the Baronies of Burrishoole and Murrisk around Clew Bay.

The centre is also home to an excellent Famine Museum where local memories of the famine are well displayed.

In this area all along the Clew Bay Archaeological Trail the “Lazy Beds” or old potato ridges can be seen. Potatoes were often grown in this way, until the potato blight caused the Great Famine. They are historic evidence of the 19th century population explosion and subsequent famine.

4: SRAHWEE OR ALTOIR MEGALITHIC WEDGE TOMB, SRAITH BHUI (THE YELLOW RIVER LAND)

The Wedge Tomb, located at Srahwee, is one of the finest megalithic tombs in Ireland. It is associated with the transition from the late Neolithic to the Bronze Age (2000BC - 1800BC).

They consisted of one burial chamber, often with small porticos and an anti-chamber. The front faces westwards and there is a decrease in width and height from back to front.

The 4.2m long gallery is closed by a single back stone and the main chamber is divided by a 1.4m long and 1m high stone, leaving a gap of 0.3m.

The flat roof of this monument was used as an altar where mass was celebrated during the penal times, giving the tomb its local name. Locals call the site The Holy Well.

Sited by the roadside it is in a good state of preservation.

Not far from the tomb the stumps of 4.500 years old trees can be seen in the bog and around the lake.

5: BUNLAHINCH CLAPPERBRIDGE, BUN NA HINGES (BOTTOM OF THE RIVER MEADOW)

Some seven miles southwest of Louisburgh, near the villages of Killeen and Killadoon, lies Bunlahinch Clapper Footbridge on the Bunleemshough River. It is a unique and unusual feature with an interesting history.

This low bridge, formed of 38 boulders spanned by slabs of stone, was designed to cross a wide and shallow ford. It was built in the 1840s or 50s as part of the work carried out by the Irish Church Mission called "Colony of Jumpers”.

This picturesque and remarkable Clapper Bridge takes its name from the word Clapper, which is the plural for the Anglo-Saxon word 'Clam’. It signifies a construction which is Roman in origin and consists of a row of two uprights crossed by a topping slab.

6: KILLEEN GRAVEYARD AND CROSS SLAB, CILLIN (SMALL GRAVEYARD)

The graveyard in Cloonlaur townland is better known as Killeen Graveyard. Nowadays there is no trace of the early Christian church which is supposed to be built on this site.

In the graveyard there is a large standing stone about 2.5m high. It bears a Maltese Cross carved with a four-petalled tulip design enclosed by a double circle.

Macalister recorded the stone which bore Ogham inscriptions too. Ogham pillars were inscribed with the names of a person and his ancestors. They were common from about 300 A.D. to 700 A.D. The letters deciphered by Macalister were 0 V I M A 0

Ancient Slab, also in cemetery, marks the grave of Reverend David Lyons. It bears five crosses; the main line Latin cross, carved with forked ends and a pear-shaped base, is in the centre and surrounded by four small crosses. It also bears the Greek letters Alpha and Omega.

This type of cross is known as the Cross of the Thieves.