Ceide Fields historical site in north west Ireland
Today our friends have kindly offered to take us on an excursion to see some of the Irish countryside, and to explore a historical site.
From where we are staying we can see the brown hills of heather plants, that grow along the top layer of unique vegetation and wildlife and beneath is a natural blanket bog.
And we arrive at Ceide Fields. Here in this area of wild bog lands of North Mayo lies the Céide Fields, and under the grasses and soggy soils is the most extensive Stone Age monument in the world, consisting of field systems, dwelling areas and megalithic tombs. The stone walled fields, extending over thousands of acres are almost 6,000 years old, the oldest known in the world.
So we head to the Visitor Centre and at first we think it is closed – do not be fooled! Head through the swing gates and up the path and it is hidden in a boggy hill. It is located beside some of the most spectacular cliffs and rock formations in Ireland and a viewing platform is positioned on the edge of the 110m high cliff.
We head inside and they have a great museum and exhibition area that explains the history of the area. They have a 3000 year old tree trunk inside that was preserved in the bog – incredible!
We then climb the stairs to the glass pyramid and get an amazing view.
Here you can see right across to the cliffs and the Atlantic Ocean.
Explorason is running around and having a great time. And gets exhausted!
So we follow him down the outside stairs around the building.
Outside is really, really blowy!
We head back in and grab a cappuccino as we are told a film starts in 15 minutes explaining it all in more detail. I find films a great learning tool for Explorason.
After the film we head out to the soggy boggy hills. We are advised to wear weather protective clothing and footwear suitable for walking on uneven terrain. and it is windy and very cold so a warm coat, gloves and beanie wouldn’t have gone astray either.
The stone walls look like fallen piles of rocks, but they are all in lined formation and serve as the old walls.
We learn how this would have been a peaceful area, and the weather would not have been so wet and cold.
We also learn about bog holes – these can be obscured by the heather and grasses, and so as Explorason runs through the bog, I warn him about these.
We get a chance to stop and have a good look at the wind burnt dried heather – yet to come into spring bloom.
Bog is cut and dried and used to burn. As it is organic matter, but the density has not allowed decomposition as a compost normally would.
We enjoy our wander through the fields.
It is wet and moisture drips from the ground and runs in river lets across the paths. It is very soggy underfoot.
The grasses grow in clumps over the top, but mostly this is – just grass, not small bushes as it looks from a distance.
Across the road is a look out area.
It is worth the few steps to get there, as you can look right down on the cliffs and see the crevasses with nests of seagulls protecting themselves from the harsh winds.
Address: Ballycastle, Co. Mayo.
Telephone: +353 96 43325
Fax: +353 96 43261
Opening hours 2014: 3rd April – End May: Daily 10.00 – 17.00; June – End September: Daily 10.00 – 18.00; 1st October – 29th October: Daily 10.00 – 17.00 Last tour 1 hour before closing; winter months – available for group bookings. Average length of visit: 2 hours
Admission: Adult: €4.00; Sen/Group: €3.00; Child/Student: €2.00; Family: €10.00
Facilities: Parking, access to A.V. and ground floor exhibits, toilets for people with disabilities. Exhibitions in English and Irish. Restaurant/Tearooms: Yes – Seating: 75
Here is a list of sites around Ireland that might be of interest: http://www.museumsofmayo.com/ceide.htm