Ballymacgibbon Cairn, Mayo, Ireland

Ballymacgibbon Cairn is a captivating sight, rising ten metres above the bushes, shrubs and trees that dot its boundary. This cairn has never been excavated but due to its size, steep incline with a flat top, its is believed it probably contains a Neolithic Passage Tomb. The cairn measures 35-40 metres in diameter, with a small modern addition to the top of the cairn, a kind of pinnacle. William Wilde wrote that the cairn was erected to celebrate the Battle of Moytura, where two of the ancient tribes of Ireland, the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Firbolg fought. The Tuatha Dé Danann were seen as a mythical race that came to Ireland around 2000BC, when they were finally overthrown by the Milesians they dwelt beneath the earth as the people of the Sídh, the fairy people who dwell in the ‘otherworld. The Firbolg were also regarded as a mystical people who arrived in Ireland around 1500BC.

According to legend Ballymacgibbon cairn was built by the Firbolg under the orders of their king, Eochaid, as a memorial to their triumph at the Battle of Moytura. The King ordered his men to bring the head of an enemy to be placed in the cairn. However their victory was to be short-lived and in the following four days the Firbolg were defeated, with 100,000 of them killed, including King Eochaid. The day of my visit to Ballymacgibbon Cairn was a typical west of Ireland summer’s day, soaking wet! It is an intriguing site and the fact that it has never been excavated just lends a deeper mystery to this interesting place.

GPS: 53.54221, -9.2371

2 thoughts on “Ballymacgibbon Cairn, Mayo, Ireland

  1. Wonderful, Ed! I never heard that legend about the fir bolg, although I know the story of the battle quite well. Looks like a very enigmatic site, all the more atmospheric for the weather, I think…

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