Ballintubber Abbey was founded by King Cathal Crovdearg O'Conor - Cathal Mór of the wine-red hand. He was of the royal race of the O'Connors, King of Connacht and notable patrons of the arts. The Cross of Cong, one of our national treasures, was designed for his father, Turlach O'Connor. Ballintubber Abbey is a royal abbey two kilometres northeast of the village of Ballintubber, County Mayo in Ireland, founded by King Cathal Crobdearg Ua Conchobair in 1216. It is said to be the only church in Ireland founded by an Irish king that is still in regular use.
Despite being suppressed and damaged during the Protestant Reformation, the roofless abbey continued to be used throughout penal times by Catholics. In 1966, the nave was restored and re-roofed in time for the 750th anniversary of the abbey's foundation and, in 1997, the Chapter House and Dorter area were restored and re-roofed. It is planned to restore the entire east wing before the 800th year celebration in 2016. The abbey marks the beginning of Tochar Phádraig, the ancient pilgrimage route to Croagh Patrick, long defunct but now reopened as a cross-country pilgrimage and tourist trail.
The abbey has several modern outdoor attractions, including a very modern abstract Way of the Cross, an underground permanent Crib, and a Rosary Way. There is a small museum. According to the Ballintubber website, Seán na Sagart, the infamous priest-hunter, is buried in the cemetery. A large tree marks the spot. (Photo by Laurel Lodged)
Photo: GTD Aquitaine
The Céide Fields
The Céide Fields (meaning "flat topped hill fields") is an archaeological site on the north County Mayo coast in the west of of Ireland, about 8 kilometres northwest of Ballycastle. The site is the most extensive Neolithic site in the world and contains the oldest known field systems in the world. Using various dating methods, it was discovered that the creation and development of the Céide Fields goes back some five and a half thousand years.
The discovery of the Céide Fields originally began in the 1930s when a local man, schoolteacher Patrick Caulfield, noticed piles of stones which were uncovered as he cut away peat for fuel. In these piles he saw a design that could not have been haphazard; Caulfield noted that the stones must have been placed there by people, because their configuration was clearly unnatural and deliberate. Furthermore, the stones were positioned below the bog, which meant they were there before the bog developed, implying a very ancient origin.
The unravelling of the true significance of this discovery did not begin for another forty years when Patrick's son, Seamus, having studied archaeology, began to investigate further. Investigations revealed a complex of fields, houses and megalithic tombs concealed by the growth of blanket bogs over the course of many centuries.
Mc Carthy's Lodge & Bar ❖ Quay Street ❖ Westport ❖ County Mayo ❖ Ireland ❖ Tel: +353(0)98 29142