Streedagh is a beautiful strip of land with a long beach along the coast of north Sligo, close to Ahamlish and the magical island of Dernish. Today Streedagh is famous for its connection with the Spanish Armada in 1588 when three ships sank off Streedagh Point.
There are two fine stone-age monuments close to the beach, a wedge which is easy to access in the sand-dunes overlooking the Island of Inishmurray, and the remains of a court-tomb which is somewhat harder to find. Both monuments have fine views of Benbulben, Benwisken, and the other heads of the Dartry Mountains.
The wedge-tomb at Streedagh is sited in a very beautiful location, up on the sand dunes on the north end of the Back Strand. The monument was exposed by a violent storm around 1840, when the covering of sand was cleared off the wedge by the elements. The wedge, which has never been excavated, probably dates to around 2,500 BC, the period at the end of the Irish neolithic and beginnings of the Bronze age.
The monument consists of a chamber constructed of limestone slabs, measuring 3 meters long by 1.5 to less than a meter wide. The chamber is at the center of a circle of boulders some 11 meters in diameter, and the orientation is to the northeast. It was known locally in Wood-Martin's time as the Grave of the Wolfhound.
There are stunning views from this monument in all directions. Sitting perched on the dunes, it overlooks the majestic escarpment of Benbulben and the Dartry Mountains to the east. To the south is Knocknarea and Queen Maeve's Cairn. Knocknarea looks quite lobsided when viewed from its north side, while it looks symmetrical and balanced from the south (eg, Carrowkeel).
To the south west is Nephin mountain, almost 70 kilometers away in County Mayo. Nephin marks the position of the winter solstice sunset when viewed from the wedge. To the west there is a fine view to Inishmurray island. Streedagh is the closest point on the mainland to Inishmurray.
The Wolfhound's Grave
William Wakeman visited Streedagh in 1880 on his tour of the monuments of County Sligo, and the site remains pretty much in the same condition that he saw it in, except that sand has covered most of the stones again. His drawing shows the ring of circle stones to be quite tall like teeth, an aspect which is not visible today.
Wakeman also illustrated the court cairn one kilometer to the east. The Streedagh court is very ruined today, with very little remaining of the structure. This may be because a ringfort or some kind of circular enclosure was constructed in front of the court, using stones robbed from the older building. The monument is located at the crest of a low hill with fine views over the surrounding countryside, an imposing location for a tomb.
Streedagh is quite a beautiful and bleak spot with amazing views across the Atlantic and of the dramatic Dartry Mountains. Another important aspect of Streedagh is the amazing collection of fossils to be found in the rocks there. The limestone regions of County Sligo were formed some 300 million years ago when the area was semi-tropical. Much of the coral plant life has been preserved in the rocks at Streedagh.