Highlight of the day was travelling west up to Ceide Fields via Ballina, a journey of about an hour and a half from Sligo. There we met Mairin (a colleague of Pip’s) and Red who helped to show us around and then shouted us afternoon tea at Ballycastle. Thanks guys! It’s always great to have a visit supplemented with good local knowledge.
Ceide Fields is a Neolithic site discovered about 80 years ago buried under the peat along the cliffs above the Atlantic in north-west Ireland. A stone age civilisation lived here about 5,500 years ago but all that can now be seen are the collapsed stones showing the fencelines, the outlines of domestic quarters and the burial tombs. It was a different Ireland from our previous day’s faery glades around Lough Gill, being a bleak and seemingly arid landscape, yet it exerted an influence over us that was just as potent.
We were initially disappointed to learn that Ceide Fields was a week away from opening for the tourist season but Gretta, the Centre Manager and an archaeological specialist, very obligingly took a small group of us through the Centre and up onto the fields. She has obviously contributed a lot to the ongoing exploration here and it was great to have someone with such a passion for the archaeology telling us the discovery stories.
Further up the hill we were then confronted by this neolithic animal:
It was also a good vantage point to get a panorama of the area, with Downpatrick Head in the distance. Note that part of the peninsula is in sunshine – the other part is either raining or about to rain!