Queen Maeve's Grave (Misgaun Maeve) is located at the summit of Knocknarea mountain, which, at 1,014 feet, dominates the landscape to the West of Sligo. Maeve was the warrior Queen of Connacht in Celtic mythology.
The cairn measures some 180 feet across and over 30 feet high, making it the largest such tomb in Ireland outside the Boyne Valley. Its shape and structure (and the results of archaeology in the area) have led to the tomb being classified as a Neolithic passage tomb. It is estimated that the stones used in the construction would weigh approximately 40,000 metric tons.
Around the cairn there are a number of other tombs, probably of the same period, in varying states of destruction.
Maeve ruled from Cruachan (now Rathcroghan, County Roscommon) and was the enemy (and former wife) of Conchobar mac Nessa, King of Ulster. She is best known for starting the Táin Bó Cúailnge (“The Cattle Raid of Cooley”) to steal Ulster’s prize stud bull. The Cattle Raid of Cooley (or The Táin) is a legendary epic tale about a war against Ulster by Queen Meave and her husband Ailill, who intend to steal the stud bull Donn Cuailnge, opposed only by the legendary teenage Ulster hero Cú Chulainn.
Years later, she was killed by Furbaide (son of a murdered enemy) while bathing in a pool on Inchcleraun (Inis Cloithreann), an island on Lough Ree. It is said that she is buried upright facing her enemies in Ulster.