The view from Treanmacmurtagh cairn in the middle of the Bricklieve Mountains, between Carrowkeel and Kesh Corran (which can be seen, left). There are stunning views across the Plain of Sligo to Doomore, Croghaun, Knocknarea, Carrowmore, Sliabh Da Ean and Benbulben. Sligo is an amazing place!
Treanmacmurtagh Cairn might be considered the central monument in the Bricklieve complex. It is located about half way between Carrowkeel and Kesh Corran, just to the north of the summit of its hill. The unopened cairn is about 20 meters in diameter and 4 - 5 meters high. The cairn has a smaller cairn, known locally as a 'pinnacle' on the top, which was probably erected by the Ordinance Survey. Several kerbstones, round erratic boulders, show that this is most likely a chambered cairn like those at Carrowkeel close by. Archaeologist Ethienne Rynne examined this cairn in the 1970's and found two Bronze age cists inserted into the south side of the monument. The covering slab of one of these cists is visible today.
An aerial photo of the Treans: Treanmacmurtagh Cairn is to the right, a small unnamed cairn to the centre, and Sheecor on the left. The lake is Lough na Leibe. Picture © Leo Regan.
There are said to have been three standing stones to the north of this site, which were removed during land clearing activities. The site commands a wide view, which includes most of the cairns in the Bricklieve Mountains. It is also obvious from here that cairns B and F in Carrowkeel are on a line with Treanmacmurtagh Cairn.
Sheecor is a cairn-topped limestone hill at the heart of the Bricklieve Mountans. The monument is somewhat ruined and sits at the highest point at 216 meters above sea level. There is a fine view to the north and south, while the west is guarded by the great hill of Kesh Corran. The Carrowkeel complex lies to the east. The beautiful mountain lake of Lough na Leibe lies nestled in th valley at east the foot of Sheecor.
The small hills which lie between Carrowkeel and Kesh Corran are known as the Treans: Treanmor, Treanmacmurtgh and Treanscabbagh. A dindsenchas story which describes how the Hill of Kesh was formed tells of a great sow named Cael Ceis who was butchered on the site; the treans are considered to be the piglets of the great sow. This must be an important Sidhe or Brú; it reminds me of Glastonbury Tor.
Treanmor is another of the neolithic cairns of the Bricklieve Mountains in County Sligo. It is situated just east of Kesh Corran. The cairn is unopened and appears to be fairly undisturbed. It is a low mound of locally quarried limestone, about 10 or 15 meters in diameter, 240 meters up on a limestone spur.
Treanmore is part of a group of hills consisting of Treanmacmurtagh, Sheecor and Cairnaweeleen, which in the local landscape mythology are called the piglets of the great sow Cail Céis, who's slaughtered body became Kesh Corran. With Kesh on the west and Carrowkeel on the west, the views from these four hills are directed to the north and south.
Carnanweeleen echoes the shape of Knocknarea and again Sliabh League in the far distance.
There are several monuments on the hill of Treanmor: a ringfort, a cashel, possible enclosure, and a few relatively modern house ruins. The view from this site, as shown above, is quite spectacular on a clear day.
Lough na Leibe
Lough na Leibe, the Lake of the Bed is a beautiful spot nestled in the heart of the Bricklieve Mountains. The lake is 144 meters above sea level, and is fed by mountain springs which rise from under the surrounding cairn-decked hills. This area is one of the most mythological parts of County Sligo, and has an abundance of stories set in prehisoric times.
There are ancient roads running by the lake which probably date to medieval times as they run towards the ruins of a 14th Century towerhouse at Bricklieve. All of the hills in the area are topped by neolithic cairns - Carrowkeel lies just east of the lake, while Kesh Corran looms up on the west side. Immediately west of Lough na Leibe is Sheecor, possibly the home of Corran the Harper.
There are two versions of how the lake was named. In one Leibe is a daughter of Manannan Mac Lir, and as so often happens in Celtic stories, the lake is named for the place where she drowned. The other vesion has the lake as one of the beds where Diarmuid and Grainne slept while they were fleeing from Fionn Mac Cumhal. Diarmuid and Grainne eventually settled down just north of the lake in the townland called Grainnemor.
The water from Lough na Leibe flows south for less than a kilometer before entering a turlough (seasonal lake) called Lough Gowra, where it dissappears into the earth again.