Sliabh Dá Ean is the name of a group of four distcintive peaks in the eastern
extreme of the Ox Mountains in County Sligo. The hills, Sliabh Dárgan,
Sliabh Dá Eán, Aghamore cairn and Cailleach a Vera's House are each capped by a neolithic cairn. Sliabh Dá Eán's cairn is about 15 meters in diameter, built from quarried local gneiss rock on the highest peak of the four hills, at 276 m above sea level.
These sites are rich in local folklore and mythology. A Cailleach (hag) was
said to have lived in the chambered cairn on the lowest peak. She befrended
the mad king, Sweeney, and after transforming themselves into geese, they
dived to the bottom of the small mountain-top lake, Loch Dá Gé,
the Lake of the Two Geese.
This area of the Ballygawley mountains was used
as a foresight by the local neolithic builders. The rising sun at the mid-winter solstice emerges from the mountain by
the Cailleach's house when viewed from Listoghil
at the centre of Carrowmore. The sunset in mid-winter drops into the Ox mountains between Knocknashee and Doomore cairn.
The sun rises in the valley between Aghamore and Sliabh Dá Eán,
and the recently discovered megalithic engraving at Listoghil may be a
representation of the distcintive peaks of Sliabh Dá Eán.
From Moytura, the extreme setting lunar
standstills, which only occur every 18.6 years, should set into the notch
between Sliabh Dá Eán and Sliabh Dárgan. The Moytura sunsets and
winter full moon sets drop behind Knocknarea
in a similar arrangement to that found in Carrowkeel.
In his book, Pi in the Sky, Michael Poynder discusses a large ley or energy
line crossing the country from Newgrange to Knocknarea. Many ancient sites
are found on this line, incliding these four cairns.
Aghamore Cairn located on the next summit north of Slaibh Dá Eán
at 266 m above sea level. The two monuments are seperated by a sheer valley,
some 40 meters deep. This cairn is the smallest of the four in these mountains,
with a diameter of about 10 meters. Again, the stones are gneiss, and
there is plenty of quartz in the local mountain rock.
The view is quite stunning, especially to the north, where you can look down
on Lough Gill, and follow the river Garavogue as it flows past the big
monuments on Carns Hill. Knocknarea also looks beautiful
from up here. To the south, Carrowkeel and
Kesh Corran can be seen beyond Sliabh Dá Eán, and to the west, Knocknashee,
Muckelty Hill and Doomore
are all visible. Croghaun
peak is lost in the Ox Mountains. The cross on the cairn is from a recent burial in 1996.
Slaibh Dárgan is perhaps the most visually impressive of the peaks, as it has
steep valleys, especially on the east, which are visible from a long way
off. The cairn is again located on the highest point, some 263 m above
sea level, with fine views on all sides.
The cairn on Slaibh Dárgan was distured at some stage, and has two large holes
dug into the top. The diameter is about 15 meters and the stones are local,
probably from the cliff-face just to the east.
Slaibh Dá Eán is to the east
seperated by a 40 m deep valley. This valley is the notch visible from
Moytura, which is probably
an extreme midwinter moon setting position when viewed from the Moytura
cairn, Shee Lugh.
Slaibh Dárgan also forms a deep notch valley with Aghamore cairn
to the north. This notch marks the winter solstice sunrise when viewed
from Listoghil at the centre of Carrowmore. Cailleach a Vera's House is located on the
hill below to the west.
Cailleach a Vera's House
Cailleach a Vera's House is a fascinating neotithic monument, on a lower summit, about
215 meters above sea level. A passage and chamber remain within a cairn
of some 16 meters in diameter. Some of the chamber stones have fallen
in, and the passage seems to have collapsed. The rectangular chamber can
be entered from a hole on the east side. The cairn is made from local
gneiss chunks, and there are a few lumps of quartz still mixed with the
The passage seems to be oriented to the south-southwest, to the region west of Carrickbanagher
where there may be another large cairn. It seems to have a bearing to
the mid-summer extreme moonsets.
The name Cailleach a Vera is derived from the Hag of Beara who is ultimately
derived from Buí, the wife of Lugh. Cailleachs or Hags are associated
with many cairns and sites, and in some of the tales are said to have
built the cairns by dropping stones from their aprons as they hopped across
Sliabh Gullion, Knowth,
and possibly Corn Hill in Longford are associated with the Hag, as are
the caves and cairn of Kesh Corran to the south. The local Hag in Sligo was Garavogue, after whom the Sligo river, which is the shortest in Ireland, is named. The local folklore has the Hag living on the mountain with the mad king Sweeney. The dark
mountain lake, Lough Dá Gé got its name from a time when
they both transformed themselves into geese and dived to the bottom of