Keshcorran , County Sligo

In the South-East of County Sligo lies a broad mountain , nearly four and a half miles in circumference and because of its rich history is a must see on your tours of Ireland. On its summit – 1,180 feet high – prehistoric people constructed a large burial-cairn and enclosure. The origin of its name , Ceis Chorainn , is obscure , but ceis probably meant ‘circuit’ and the toponymic Corann may have been derived from an old population name. Medieval authors fancied that a fairy musician called Corann lived there and had a wonderful harp (ceis).

More wondrous still is the natural formation of the Western side of the mountain , where seventeen caves stand like portals of a great geological terrace. Remains of many prehistoric animals have been found in these caves , including bears , Irish elk , reindeer , and even lemmings. Humans once lived in these caves also , and one of them is cited in Old Irish literature as the place where the mythical King Cormac Mac Airt was suckled by a she-wolf as a child.

When the hero Fionn Mac Cumhaill and his men rested on top of the mountain after a great deer-hunt , the otherworld lord of the mountain , Conaran , sent his three daughters to capture them. The three placed irons –bands around three briar-trunks and began to twist the bands wither shins. Seeing the horrid appearance of the witches and mesmerised by their ritual , Fionn and his men changed complexion from red to white then black , before collapsing onto the ground. They were tied up , and brought into the otherworld residence.

Fionn’s Lieutenant , Goll Mac Morna , arriving late for the hunt , became suspicious and he engaged the witches in combat. He slew two of them , and forced the other to unbind the spell on his friends. Fionn was so grateful that he gave his daughter in marriage to Goll on that very day.

Keshcorran is a real hidden gem steeped in Irish history , to discover more why not include it in your tours of Ireland.