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Ceide Fields, Co. Mayo
Location: About 7 km northwest of Ballycastle on the very north coast of
County Mayo on R 314, the Ceide Fields Visitor Center rises up from the boggy landscape
in pyramid form. It can be seen from quite a distance and is directly on R 314. There
is a large carpark and overflow parking.
Description: From "The Museums of Mayo":
"Ceide Fields was a farming countryside of typical stone-walled fields
that has been preserved just as it was fifty centuries ago. The discovery of what is now
known as Céide Fields really began back in the 1930s when a local schoolteacher, Patrick
Caulfield from Belderrig, often noticed piles of stones in the bottom of the bog when
cutting his turf. To everybody else these were meaningless but he realised two very
important points - firstly, the way the stones were piled up couldn't be natural so
somebody had to put them there, and secondly, because they were down underneath the peat
they had to be put there prior to the growth of the bog and so must be very ancient.
It was however to be another 40 years and only when Patrick's son, Seamus, became
an archaeologist and began studying these stones in the bogs that it was realised what
they were all about. It is now known that these are the remains of a Stone Age landscape
of stone walled fields, houses and megalithic tombs over 5,000 years old, preserved
beneath the growing blanket bog over thousands of acres in North Mayo.
a project was launched by Dr. Seamus Caulfield and Prof. Martin Downes along with a
local committee to build a Center at Céide which would use the results of the research
as an economic resource by attracting tourists to the area. The following year the OPW
became involved and designed the award-winning Center which was opened to the public in
May 1993. The Center not only presents the archaeology of the site but also the botany,
bogs and geology of the area. It is located beside spectacular 370ft high cliffs, five
miles west of Ballycastle.
Visitors to the Center can enjoy an audio-visual
show as well as the exhibitions inside, including a magnificent 4,300 year old Scots
Pine tree which dominates the center of the building. A panoramic viewing platform both
inside and outside on the roof of the glass-topped pyramid-shaped building affords
dramatic views of sea and land."
Comments: The spectacular scenery along the northern cliffs of Mayo would be worth
the drive, but to find Ceide Fields Visitors Center out here in the wilds is an exceptional
pleasure. The glass-topped pyramid is visible from quite a distance, though it DOES look
vaguely like the hilltop cairns in Sligo from far away. The center is cleverly designed
into the boglands with exhibits, audio-visual program and excellent tearoom at ground
level. The glass top of the pyramid gives awe-inspiring 360 degree views of the sea and
cliffs and the boglands from inside (great during inclement weather) and the balcony outside.
Each step from this level to the paths below represents 100 years of bog formation - a very
graphic representation, indeed. Being atop a high cliff at the ocean's edge, it is very
windy in all seasons. The ground level is uneven, so it pays to be prepared for a tour
with warm clothing and sturdy footwear.