What's in a name? Megalithic Tombs.
Megalithic is from the two Greek words, "Mega" large and "lithos" a stone which is self explanatory. There are over 1200 such monuments in Ireland. The Tombs are usually grouped according to their method of construction into
Although called "Tombs" it is by no means certain that all were used for communal burial, although many have been excavated and found to have been used in this way. Others may have served some form of ceremonial purpose.
There are many other names which are used locally for these monuments. Thus we have the words Dolmens, Cromlechs, Giants Graves, Kings Tables, Druids Altars, and Diarmuid and Grainne's Bed, all meaning the same thing.
They are also localised to particular areas. In West Munster we have large numbers of Wedge Tombs, but the other three types are almost totally absent.
A large mound with a forecourt at one end leading by a passage to a long and sometimes divided chamber. Are mostly to be found in Ulster and North Connacht. Creevykeel in Co.Sligo is a famous example.
These are better known as Dolmens. Above ground burial chambers consisting of a number of upright stones supporting one or more massive capstones which usually slope downwards towards the back.. Found mostly on the Eastern half of the country. Kilclooney, Co.Donegal is a much photographed example.
A huge mound with a burial chamber at it's centre, reached by a passage. Mostly to be found in the old kingdoms of Meath and Ulster. Knowth and Newgrange are famous examples.
Long rectangular burial chambers usually roofed with large capstones, and placed in a long wedge shaped mound. The chamber often rises in height towards the front. Found largely in the Western half of the country.
The first two groups tend to be dated around 3000 bc. ie. Neolithic. Passage Tombs are often a little younger, perhaps 2500 bc. Wedge Tombs can be much later, often Bronze Age to 1000 bc. and seem to be the burial mode of a later people than the first three groups. The actual burial in a wedge tomb is often a cremation. We have many examples in this Parish including those in Derryvacorneen, Keamcorrovooly and Gortafludig.