Knocknarea dominates the skyline of west Sligo and is well known for its huge flat topped cairn which is believed to be the resting place of the legendary Queen Maeve of Connacht. The tomb has been classified as a Neolithic passage tomb and is estimated to be the largest in Ireland outside of the Boyne Valley measuring some 55 meters across and 10 meters in height. A large number of hut sites have also been found. This is a very rewarding climb with spectacular views in all directions, including the Ox Mountains, Lough Gill, and Slieve League in Donegal and on a clear day Croagh Patrick in the west.
The walk begins at the base of the mountain in the car park. Follow the path from the car park up the hill. The walk gets steeper from the kissing gate and continues up to the cairn, returning by the same route. The terrain is quite steep and rugged as you move closer to the summit. Care is advised when descending from the mountain as it may be slippery underfoot particularly following wet weather.
Trail Grade - Strenuous - This trail is physically demanding, includes some sections with steep climbs and the going underfoot can be extremely rough including many obstacles. The trail is suitable for users accustomed to walking on rough ground and with a high level of fitness. It should be noted that this path traverses mountain terrain and can be subject to rapidly changing weather conditions including cloud cover, mist, fog and high winds. Extreme caution should be exercised during such weather events and in this context walkers are advised to remain upon designated paths and to turn back in case of any doubt. In the event of an emergency please call 999/112 and ask for Mountain Rescue.
The property traversed by this route is private and access is available by the kind permission of the landowners. Dogs are not permitted on sections of the trail that cross the open farmland above the gate due to the presence of grazing sheep and lambs.
The summit and its surrounds once constituted a sacred burial place to people in this area and should be treated with dignity and respect - Please do not climb the cairn.
Did you know?
Queen Meave of Connacht was the daughter of a former High King of Ireland, King Eochaid. Meave was a jealous woman; according to legend as a young girl she killed her own sister over a row concerning a man.
We are told that Meave was married many times. Infact some historians believe that Meave was not a real person at all but a goddess of sovereignty and that in order for a man to become king he had to symbolically marry Meave the goddess.