County Mayo

Achill Island

The Deserted Villages on Slievemore mountain stretch for more than a mile. Not much is known about the villages, and archeological study is underway. They are believed to have been "booley villages", occupied only part of the year.
Today, sheep are the only inhabitants of the Deserted Villages. Have I mentioned I like sheep?

As I wandered the Villages a small red car pulled up and dropped off a sheepdog and his owner. Under direction of whistles and gestures, the dog proceeded to round up the sheep and move them here and there. 

Dooagh, from Slievemore

A Wheatear - I was told by a birdwatcher I met at that night's B&B that "wheatear" was a Victorian euphemism for the bird's distinguishing mark - a "white arse". 

Mullet Peninsula

The Mullet Peninsula is at the northwest corner of County Mayo. It's a long way from anywhere, and all the more beautiful for it. 
I spent the night at Leim Siar B&B at Blacksod on the very southern tip of the Mullet Peninsula, which I recommend - a warm welcome, good food and touring tips, and a big "thanks" for loaning me the tools to fix the rental car so I didn't have to run my GPS on batteries. 

Blacksod Lighthouse - as the westernmost weather-reporting point in Ireland, this was where the Allied commanders got their weather reports from just before the D-Day Invasion. It was a report from this lighthouse which caused the invasion to be postponed from June 5th to June 6th, 1944. I met the son of the lighthouse keepers who sent the report, a lighthouse keeper himself, who grew up in this lighthouse. It's always a bit of a charge to touch history, even secondhand. 

Blacksod Harbour

Watchtowers were built around the coast of western Ireland to watch for Napoleon's invasion fleet - like the Martello Towers in eastern Ireland, England and the Channel Islands, they were placed so that each tower could see (and signal to) the next along the coast. Unlike the round Martello towers, though, these are all square two-story houses. There's a picture of another at Slieve League in County Donegal and one on Inisheer on this site. 

Saint Deirbhle's Church - the legend says that if you go through the window of the church three times, you'll never drown. Unfortunately, since the window's hardly a hand-span wide, it's not likely that many have taken up the offer. 

Wheatear at St. Deirbhle's Church

Céide Fields

The Céide Fields (pronounced "Kay-DJuh Fields") are the most extensive Stone Age site in the world and contain the oldest known stone walled field systems in the world. The name means "fields on the flat-topped hill". 

The Céide Fields are covered by a peat bog, which was deposited by the growth and decay of sphagnum moss over the nearly six thousand years since the fields were built and abandoned. 

A house and enclosure in the Céide Fields

The fields were completely buried by the peat, and were found by probing every foot or so and, if the pole hits something, inserting a stick in the resulting hole. The sticks are all the same length, so where the sticks are taller above ground, that means there's a fallen wall. Probes were taken all over the Céide Fields area, and the gridwork of fields were revealed.  

View up the coast from Céide Fields

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All pictures © Copyright 2011 Mike Brown