Sligo’s Archaeology Treasures
“The earliest signs of human settlement in County Sligo date to the Mesolithic period (Middle Stone Age – c.7000-4000 BC). The presence of these early hunter-gatherer communities who exploited the rivers, lakes, marine and other natural resources around them is indicated by archaeological finds from Lough Gara near Monasteraden, and from investigations at Carrowmore.
There is much evidence of Neolithic (Late Stone Age – c.4000-2500 BC) activity in County Sligo due to the extremely high number of megalithic monuments. The area of County Sligo is only 2.5% of the total area of Ireland, yet c.220 megalithic monuments are found here – 15% of Ireland’s total number (c.1450). Different types of megalithic monuments can be encountered in the county and according to their construction, and to a certain extent to the finds made, these monuments have been categorised into four main types: court tomb, portal tomb, passage tombs and wedge tombs.
Towards the end of the Neolithic period henge monuments or earthen embanked enclosures were constructed for ritual and ceremonial purposes and continued into the succeeding Bronze Age (c2300- 700BC).”
Moygara Castle Megalithic Site
The castle of Moygara was the principle fortress and dwelling of the O’Gara family. According to the Annals, a shot fired from this castle killed Niall Garve O’Donnell, the son of Manus O’Donnell in 1538. In 1581 a body of Scottish mercenaries in the service of Captain Malby, Governor of Connacht, burned the castle and killed many of the O’Garas, and the castle went into disuse apart from a brief period during the Williamite wars.
The castle stands on a slight eminence with great views, particularly to the south. The building consists of a plain rectangular tower set within a nearly square bawn with flanking angled towers at each corner. These commanded the adjacent curtain walls as well as the timber parapets that would have existed in the original building. The main entrance was on the western side where, at a later time, an entrance porch was added to the original arched opening. All the gun loops are intact, and the rectangular windows in the upper floors of the towers are also in good condition. There is no trace of an outer ditch or moat.
On the ground at the western entrance there are two carved keystones, originally thought to have been Sheila na Gigs or exhibitionist figures. However, the first stone appears to be two figures sitting with their legs intertwined and the other is of a figure possibly holding an infant in its right hand.
Other good examples is the O’Hara castle at Moymlough near Coolaney (G6285/2615) and Rosslee Tower House of the MacDonnells at Easky (G3772/2853).
Wedding proposal at Moygara
Grady O’Gara had a plan, to bring his girlfriend Kathleen to Ireland and propose to her at Moygara Castle in Mullaghroe, Co. Sligo. He asked local photographer Richard McCarthy to capture the proposal as it happened.
Richard McCarthy: I asked Grady “Why Moygara Castle?”. He replied “Moygara has been part of the O’Gara family and I thought this is the place where my family came from and where my own family will start”.
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From Tubbercurry take the R294 Boyle road, 4km after Gurteen turn right at signpost for castle. Cross fence at Farm warning sign. Owner is Mr O’Neill.