Knocknashee ‘Hill of the Fairies’ is one of Ireland's largest Bronze Age fortified hilltop forts stretching 700x320 meters across this table-top mountain plateau. Being one of Ireland’s seven most sacred hills, its name comes from the Irish words “knock” (cnoc) meaning “hill” and “shee” meaning “fairy”.
Knocknashee is a beautiful table-top mountain in south west Sligo, which rises suddenly from the drumlin plain to dominate the surrounding area. The area around Knocknashee is thickly dotted with ringforts and mounds and there are several ruined megalithic chambers in the area, all with commanding views to the mountain.
And there is nowhere better to begin a visit, and to experience all of these sensations and emotions, than on the Hill of the Fairies, or Knocknashee, about 10km north of Tubercurry. Along with the stone chambers of the Carrowkeel Tomb Complex and the mysterious depths of the Caves of Kesh, this airy limestone plateau was always a “holy”, or spiritual place among south Sligo’s rich constellation of such places. Michael Gibbons, one of Ireland’s leading field archaeologists, was much impressed with this hill, calling it a “place apart” and “one of the great European hill-forts”.
in the company of John Barrett, of Wild Wet Adventures (tel 086-7222750), who runs a range of outdoor activities, including guided walks, in the area.
Barrett took us the 1km from the ample parking at Court Abbey (well worth a visit), and we respectfully entered a working farm at a sign indicating an agreed route up the hill. He then brought us up the steep grassy slopes, over the hill-fort’s now undefended “ramparts” to the Stone Age summit tomb-cairns, and showed us the subtle indentations of the dwellings of our more recent Iron Age ancestors.
He pointed out for us Croagh Patrick in the distant haze, Ireland’s holiest mountain, and Benbulben, one of our most iconic, and everything in-between. Then he encouraged us to ramble awhile, and just “feel” and enjoy the place, in the gentle sunshine of that day.
image by Gareth Wray