The Lough Arrow territory
The magical Lough Arrow region in south Sligo is one of the largest and best preserved neolithic landscapes remaining in Ireland today. Lough Arrow is surrounded by mountains on three sides - the limestone Bricklieve (Speckled) Mountains to the west, the sandstone Curlews to the south and the limestone Braulieves, or Arigna Mountains to the east. The north end of the arrow-shaped lake opens to the north-west - the chain of the Ox Mountains, with Knocknarea, Carrowmore, Sliabh Da Ean, and Benbulben beyond. The river Uinshin, the ancient routeway through the region, connects Lough Arrow with the sea at Ballisodare and the Cuil Irra peninsula.
Situated on a knoll at the northern point of Lough Arrow is the massive neolithic monument of Heapstown Cairn, which is one of the largest stone age cairns in Ireland. Heapstown is some 60 meters in diameter, 12 meters high and is composed of some 30,000 tons of stone, both glacial boulders and limestone chunks. The cairn is said to have been built over the mythological site, the Well of Slaine, where the warriors killed or injured in the Second Battle of Moytura, were cured by the healers of the Tuatha De Danann.
Lough Arrow is a limestone lake with three islands and a long peninsula. A narrow isthmus seperates Lough Arrow from Lough Key, which lies immediately to the south. There are several smaller lakes nearby - all said to be named after daughters of Mannanan Mac Lir: Lough na Leibe, Lough Bo, Lough na Suil, Lough Meelagh and Lough Skean, so it is an attractive area for the keen fisherman. The real treasures of the area is its musical, mythological, historical and archaeological heritage.
Carrowkeel is becoming well known as the best preserved of the four major megalithic sites in the country. There are twenty one chambered cairns in the Bricklieve Mountains, and a series of dramatic caves in the cliffs on the west side of Kesh Corran. Heapstown Cairn, which is probably a prototype for the famous Newgrange, overlooks the River Uinshin which flows from Lough Arrow to the sea at Ballisodare Bay below Knocknarea. The east side of the lake is the site of the ancient epic myth, the Second Battle of Moytura, and the highest point is capped by the cairn of Shee Lugh.
The Second Battle of Moytura is the centre piece of Irish mythology and tells of the great struggle for the possession of the island between the tribes of the Túatha Dé Danann and the Formorians. The Túatha Dé Danann were led by the young hero, Lugh of the Long Arm while the Formorians were directed by the great wizard king, Balor of the Evil Eye, who has served as a model for Darth Vader and Sauron, as well as several other architypical 'villans'. The region is steeped in mythological traditions from most of the Celtic cycles.The Dagda, the Morrigan, Lugh of the Long Arm, Balor, Nuada of the Silver Arm, Ogma, Breas, Cormac Mac Art, Diarmuid and Grainne, Fionn Mac Cumhal, Corran the Harper, Manannan Mac Lir, Sweeney, the Cailleach and Queen Maeve are all associated with places or monuments in the area. A page titled A Mythic Concordance by Mike Nichols, lists all the characters involved in the Second Battle of Moytura.