Ireland - Pilot's Sight Seeing Guide

Updated: Jan 4, 2019

The following is a VFR sight seeing guide for pilots looking for interesting places and sights to observe from the air while flying in Ireland.

Newgrange Megalithic Passage Tomb

Waypoint / SkyDemon Coordinates: N534150.00 W0062833.00

Newgrange Megalithic Passage Tomb
Newgrange Megalithic Passage Tomb

Newgrange is a prehistoric monument in County Meath, Ireland, located 8 kilometres (5.0 miles) west of Drogheda on the north side of the River Boyne. It is an exceptionally grand passage tomb built during the Neolithic period, around 3,200 BC, making it older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids.

The site consists of a large circular mound with an inner stone passageway and chambers. Human bones and possible grave goods or votive offerings were found in these chambers. The mound has a retaining wall at the front, made mostly of white quartz cobblestones, and it is ringed by engraved kerbstones. Many of the larger stones of Newgrange are covered in megalithic art. The mound is also ringed by a stone circle. Some of the material that makes up the monument came from as far away as the Mournes and Wicklow Mountains. There is no agreement about what the site was used for, but it is believed that it had religious significance. Its entrance is aligned with the rising sun on the winter solstice, when sunlight shines through a 'roofbox' and floods the inner chamber.

Knowth Megalithic Passage Tomb

Waypoint / SkyDemon Coordinates: N534202.00 W0062928.00

Knowth Megalithic Passage Tomb
Knowth Megalithic Passage Tomb

Knowth is a Neolithic passage grave and an ancient monument of the World Heritage Site of Brú na Bóinne located 8.4 km west of Drogheda in Ireland's valley of the River Boyne. It is the largest passage grave of the Brú na Bóinne complex. It consists of a large mound and 17 smaller satellite tombs. The mound is about 12 metres (40 ft) high and 67 metres (220 ft) in diameter, covering roughly a hectare. It contains two passages placed along an east-west line and is encircled by 127 kerbstones, of which three are missing, and four badly damaged.

The large mound has been estimated to date from 3200 BC. The passages are independent of each other, leading to separate burial chambers. The eastern passage arrives at a cruciform chamber, not unlike that found at Newgrange, which contains three recesses and basin stones into which the cremated remains of the dead were placed. The right-hand recess is larger and more elaborately decorated with megalithic art than the others, which is typical for Irish passage graves of this type.

Knowth contains more than a third of the total number of examples of megalithic art in all of Western Europe with over 200 decorated stones were found during excavations. Much of the artwork is found on the kerbstones, particularly approaching the entrances to the passages.

Tara Hill - Mound of the Hostages

Waypoint / SkyDemon Coordinates: N533443.70 W0063642.30

The Mound of the Hostages is an ancient passage tomb located in the Tara-Skryne Valley in County Meath, Leinster, Ireland.

The mound is a Neolithic structure, built between 3350 and 2800 BCE. It is circular in form, roughly fifteen metres in diameter and three metres high. It is built in the same style as the Newgrange tomb. The structure is dome-shaped with an inset for the entrance and a small doorway, set almost one metre into the side of the monument. The doorway is framed with undecorated standing stones. As is common in passage tombs, this alignment allows for the rising sun to shine down the passageway at only two times of the year, illuminating the chamber within. At this mound, the passage is illuminated on the mornings of Samhain and Imbolc, at the beginning of November and February, respectively. Inside, the passage into the Mound of the Hostages stretches for four metres in length, one metre in width, and is 1.8 metres high. It contains decorated sillstones with images of swirls, circles, and x-patterns—designs associated with Mesolithic passage tomb art. Three compartments once housed buried remains.

The mound was used for burials from the early Neolithic up to 1600 - 1700 BCE. There are an estimated 250 - 500 bodies buried in the mound, organised into layers under the passage. The dead were most often cremated, and their ashes and grave goods spread on the floor of the tomb. These grave goods include decorative pottery and urns, stone beads, and bone pins. The remains were then covered with stone slabs. With this method, layers of ashes and stone built up over time and successive burials. More burials occurred at this site in the Bronze Age, and space in the passage eventually became unavailable, so the bodies were then placed in the mound itself. Over 40 remains have been removed from the mound. They had been buried in the Bronze Age style, with inverted cinerary urns placed over the cremation ashes. The full body of a Bronze Age adolescent was also discovered in the mound. The body was placed in a crouched position in a simple pit dug in the mound. Grave goods found with the body include a decorated bead necklace, a bronze knife, and a bronze awl—a suggestion that he was a person of some importance.

Unlike some similar structures, there is no evidence of a ditch dug around the mound. The Mound is situated north of the King's seat and Cormac's house (teach Cormaic) and slightly south of the Rath of the Synods. The top of the mound is the highest point on the hill, and offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

Father Ted's House

Waypoint / SkyDemon Coordinates: N530037.70 W0090149.95

Set on the fictional Craggy Island, a remote location off Ireland's west coast, the show starred Dermot Morgan as the eponymous Father Ted Crilly. Exiled on the island for various past incidents, the priests live together in the parochial house with their housekeeper Mrs Doyle. The show was critically acclaimed, receiving several BAFTA awards, and remains a popular sitcom in Britain and Ireland.

Cliffs of Moher

Waypoint / SkyDemon Coordinates: N525817.60 W0092551.35

The Cliffs of Moher are sea cliffs located at the southwestern edge of the Burren region in County Clare, Ireland. They run for about 14 kilometres. At their southern end, they rise 120 metres (390 ft) above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag's Head, and, eight kilometres to the north, reach their maximum height of 214 metres (702 ft). The cliffs rank among the most visited tourist sites in Ireland, with around 1.5 million visits per annum. Due to the nature of the terrain, this is best kept for a calm wind day.

Mizen Head

Waypoint / SkyDemon Coordinates: N512700.00 W0094911.00

Mizen Head
Mizen Head

Mizen Head is one of the extreme points of the island of Ireland and is a major tourist attraction, noted for its dramatic cliff scenery. One of the main transatlantic shipping routes passes close by to the south, and Mizen Head was, for many seafarers, the first (or last) sight of Europe. The tip of the peninsula is almost an island, cut off by a deep chasm, now spanned by a bridge; this gives access to an old signal station, a weather station, and a lighthouse. The signal station, once permanently manned, is now a museum housing displays relating to the site's strategic significance for transatlantic shipping and communications, including the pioneering efforts of Guglielmo Marconi. The "99 steps" which formed part of the original access route have been supplemented by a series of paths and viewing platforms, and a full range of visitor facilities is available at the entrance to the site.

Aran Islands

Waypoint / SkyDemon Coordinates: N530455.00 W0093527.00

The Aran Islands are 3 rocky isles guarding the mouth of Galway Bay, in western Ireland. They’re known for their ancient sites. The largest island, Inishmore, is home to the prehistoric fort of Dún Aonghasa, perched on top of a high cliff. Nearby is the Worm Hole, a rectangular natural pool. The medieval ruins of the Seven Churches are in the northwest.

Each of the islands has its on small airfield with man hotels, bars and resturants on the island. The area is unspoilt with crystal clear waters and surrounded by unique silver coloured sand covering the islands. PPR is a must.

River Shannon

Waypoint / SkyDemon Coordinates: N530453.00 W0081221.00

The River Shannon is the longest river in Ireland at 360.5 km (224 miles). It drains the Shannon River Basin which has an area of 16,865 km2 (6,512 sq mi), one fifth of the area of Ireland.

The Shannon divides the west of Ireland (principally the province of Connacht) from the east and south (Leinster and most of Munster). County Clare, being west of the Shannon but part of the province of Munster, is the major exception. The river represents a major physical barrier between east and west, with fewer than thirty-five crossing-points between Limerick city in the south and the village of Dowra in the north. The river is named after Sionna, a Celtic goddess.

Plassey Shipwreck

Waypoint / SkyDemon Coordinates: N530320.90 W0093013.45

On 8 March 1960, while sailing through Galway Bay carrying a cargo of whiskey, stained glass and yarn, it was caught in a severe storm and ran onto Finnis Rock, Inisheer, Aran Islands.

A group of local Islanders, the Inisheer Rocket Crew, rescued the entire crew from the stricken vessel using a breeches buoy — an event captured in a pictorial display at the National Maritime Museum in Dún Laoghaire.

Several weeks later, a second storm washed the ship off the rock and drove it ashore on the island.

The wreck still lies on the shoreline and is a tourist attraction. It is visible in the opening credits of the television series Father Ted. In early January 2014, Storm Christine shifted the wreck's position on the coast for the first time since 1991.

Skellig Islands (Star Wars)

Waypoint / SkyDemon Coordinates: N514614.50 W0103219.95

The Skellig Islands are 2 uninhabited, rocky islets off the southwestern coast of Ireland. Skellig Michael is known for its well-preserved early Christian monastery. The site, reached by steep steps, includes stone beehive-shaped huts, oratories and crosses. Thousands of puffins breed on Skellig Michael during the warmer months. To the northeast, the island of Little Skellig is home to a large colony of gannets.

The final scene of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was shot on Skellig in July 2015, with additional filming taking place there in September 2015 for the following film in the series, Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The remains of the Skellig Michael monastery appear in the film, representing an ancient Jedi temple.

Earlier, the Skellig Islands served as a location in the Werner Herzog 1976 movie Heart of Glass, where the islands feature in one of the prophecies by the seer Hias.

Certain scenes from the 2012 movie Byzantium were also filmed here.

Baily Lighthouse

Waypoint / SkyDemon Coordinates: N532222 W0060316

The first lighthouse on this site was built in about 1667. The area was the scene of a number of shipwrecks. On August 3, 1846, the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company's paddle steamer Prince ran into the cliffs about 2½ km north of Baily in heavy fog, and as a result it was decided that fog bells should be installed at the lighthouse. The most notable wreck was the tragedy of the PS Queen Victoria on February 15, 1853, in which over 80 passengers and crew died. The fog bell was finally installed in April, 1853, as a result of the Queen Victoria shipwreck and its subsequent Board of Trade inquiry.

Dublin City Centre

Waypoint / SkyDemon Coordinates: N532045.00 W0061610.00

The Dublin city centre route can be done by planning an arrival into Weston Arfield via the Lambay Transit (See Chart below)

McDermott's Castle

Waypoint / SkyDemon Coordinates: N535929.00 W0081528.00

McDermott's Castle
McDermott's Castle

McDermott's Castle is a castle and National Monument located in County Roscommon, Ireland. McDermott's Castle is located on Castle Island, an island of 0.23 ha (0.57 ac) in the southeast corner of Lough Key.

The Mac Diarmada were the ruling dynasty of Magh Luirg (Moylurg; northeast Connacht) from the 10th to 16th centuries. A castle stood on this island from the 12th century: in 1184, the Annals of Loch Cé report that a lightning bolt caused a fire. A rebuilt castle featured in the final part of the 1235 conquest of Connacht by Richard Mór de Burgh, 1st Baron of Connaught. The castle came under siege, first by a raft-mounted catapult, and then by fire ships. Cormac MacDermott, King of Moylurg, was forced to surrender. A poem addressed to Tomaltach an Einigh mac Diarmata (King of Moylurg 1421–58) tells the story of the Hag of Lough Key who used (or abused) Cormac MacDermott's (king 1218–44) hospitality by staying on the Rock for a full year, and laid upon the McDermotts the obligation of perpetual hospitality. The McDermotts lost the island in 1586. Eochaidh Ó hÉoghusa wrote a poem lamenting the castle's emptiness. In 2014, the island and castle featured in an episode of sitcom Moone Boy, as the residence of the mysterious "Island Joe." In 2018, the castle was put up for sale for £80,000.

Celtic Cross Forest Art

Waypoint / SkyDemon Coordinates: N550111.35 W0072436.40

Celtic Cross
Celtic Cross

This creative planting was the work of Irish forester Liam Emmery. Sadly, Emmery passed away at the age of 51. To pull off the beautiful design, measuring 330 feet long by 210 feet wide, two different species of trees were planted. Every autumn, the Celtic trees (likely composed of Eastern white pine) change their hue, while the surrounding species retains its dark green. The display went viral after a particularly dry stretch of months made the colors contrast sharply. Airline passengers couldn't resist posting to social media about the mysterious cross.

Trinity Knot Forest Art

Waypoint / SkyDemon Coordinates: N542039.40 W0082409.40

 Trinity Knot
Trinity Knot

Jim McCabe and his family planted this sylvan Trinity Knot in the 1980s. It is located on the slopes of Tomór mountain. The design is best viewed in the autumn when the Japanese Larch trees change colour and contrast with the surrounding Sitka Spruce forest. According to his family, Jim privately funded and planted the Trinity Knot for the enjoyment of all.

More VFR sites due to be added soon.

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