“Knockma of the Great Kings”: A Forgotten Royal and Ritual Site in County Galway, Ireland.

 In the last 30 years excellent progress has been made in analysing the royal and ritual sites of Ireland: Newgrange and the Boyne Valley, the hill of Uisneach – known as the navel of Ireland, Emain Macha in Armagh, and Tara, among others. The westernmost royal and ritual site is considered to be Cruachan in County Roscommon, which nonetheless lies by the Shannon River along the centre of the island. In the most ancient records, however, another site is named further west, that of the hill of Knockma in County Galway, which bears all the hallmarks of a royal and ritual landscape: literary, genealogical, archaeological and archaeo-astronomical.

This talk will discuss Knockma as a prehistoric landscape, an early Christian cult centre, and as the forgotten birthplace of the ancestors of the Uí Briúin medieval kings of Connacht. It will offer suggestions as to why Knockma declined and was replaced as the primary royal and ritual centre in Connacht when the Uí Briúin moved eastward in the early Middle Ages to assume Cruachan as their own.

Dr. Jessica Cooke is a graduate of the University of Dublin and the University of Cambridge. She is an affiliate member of the Centre of Ancient, Medieval and Pre-modern Studies at the Moore Institute in the University of Galway. Her current research interests include an examination of Knockma’s significance in West Connacht from prehistory up until the middle ages, an area which has largely been unexplored.

Date: Monday 11 December 2023
Time: 20:00/8pm
Venue: Harbour Hotel, Galway