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27 March 2015
Prehistoric rock art discovered in County Mayo

A rare sample of prehistoric rock art has been found on an ancient pilgrimage route to Croagh Patrick in Co Mayo (Ireland). The prehistoric engravings resemble that found in Lough Crew, Co Meath, and is one of just of two rock art samples of its type to be identified west of the Shannon, according to archaeologist Michael Gibbons.
     The panel had been concealed behind the outcropping at the Boheh townland known as St Patrick's chair, which has some 250 petroglyphs or carvings on its surface. The carvings are believed to have been inspired by the 'rolling sun' phenomenon, where the setting sun appears to glide down the flank of Croagh Patrick during the months of April and August.
     The new panel was found by Michael Moylan of Ardmore, Co Galway and Mr Gibbons during field work they were doing for a series of educational programmes for Connemara Community Radio.
     The panel has spiral engravings, which are not as weathered as those on the chair due to the shelter afforded by its concealment. Mr Gibbons said that the site dates back about 5,800 years. "Rock art is more frequent in the southwest, in Donegal and in Wicklow, but is very elusive in the west," he said. It has been identified at Lochán na Sídhe near Tourmakeady in Co Mayo.

Edited from The Irish Times (27 February 2015)

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