Downpatrick head -Dun Briste

Downpatrick Head - Dún Briste - Sea Stack - North Mayo by Alan Clarke

If you’re in Mayo to see history and Scenery, allow us to introduce you to Céide coast tours.

Want to escape the bustling centre of Dublin? Then why not jump aboard this enchanting half day tour that is bursting with splendid views, amazing visits and incredible history. From the magnificent stories of Céide Fields, one of oldest settlements in europe if not the world, to the unparalleled scenery at Downpatrick Head; our Coast and history tour will not disappoint.

The tour includes a visit to Dun Briste where tour guides will take you on a journey through the history of the Dun Briste and one of the oldest churches in the Doonfeeney parish Saint Patricks. The church now just a ruin dates back to the 12th century and is set amidst the most scenic views in Ireland.

You can rent a bike and cycle to Downpatrick where a tour guide from Céide coast tours awaits you on your arrival

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The Ogham or Standing Stone in Doonfeeney graveyard, dating from the 5th century, is the second highest in Ireland. It is 22ft high and 9ins thick. It is fixed to the ground and inclines to the East.
In the 6th or 7th century this stone was 'christianised' by carving two crosses, one of which is a maltese cross, on the face of the stone. This distinctive design is known locally as the Doonfeeney Cross. At the foot of the cross, the wheel and sun-burst symbolise the Resurrection. The ogham inscription is now indecipherable. Ogham (called after Ogmios, the Celtic God of writing) was the Irish alphabet used on monuments from 300A.D. to 700A.D.

Folklore has it that this stone is on alignments with clefts in neighbouring hills and solar positions.

Dún Briste and Downpatrick Head

Dún Briste The Sea Stack known as 'Dún Briste' (The Broken Fort) can be seen at Downpatrick Head, 3 miles north of Ballycastle. It was separated from the mainland in 1393 as a result of high seas and the people were taken off using ships ropes. It is 63 metres by 23 metres, 45 metres high and 228 metres from the shore.

According to one legend, a pagan chieftain, named Crom Dubh, lived there. He refused to listen to St. Patrick who tried to convert him to Christianity. St. Patrick hit the ground with his crozier and the stack was separated from the mainland, leaving Crom Dubh to die there.

The small stone building at the top of Downpatrick Head was used as a lookout post during the Second World War. It is now used to view the many species of birds on 'Dún Briste'.

The ruins of a church, a holy well, and a stone cross mark the site of an earlier church founded by St. Patrick. Pilgrims visited Downpatrick Head on the last Sunday of July - 'Garland Sunday'. Mass is now celebrated on Downpatrick Head on this day. The old statue of St. Patrick was erected here in 1912 and this was replaced by a new statue in the early 1980's.


Here also, you see the spectacular blow-hole known as 'Poll na Seantainne' with subterranean channel to the sea, where 25 men lost their lives in the aftermath of the 1798 rebellion. They are said to have taken refuge on the ledge at the bottom, and the tide came in before the ladder could be replaced.