Doonaun Features

Marian Hardiman

This small cemetery is listed by the National Monuments Service in the (ASI) Archaeological Survey of Ireland’s list of monuments.  It is a protected structure by the Record of Monuments and Places (RMP) in the archaeological records of Ireland:

Reference: GA072-033— 072-/1 /5 15688/23772 DOONAUN, Class: Enclosure

It was referred to as “Cilleachain” by the older generation of this Townland and is described as such in a Rent Book of 1883 to 1904 which names fields rented in Cilleachain. Archaeological Description:

On a gentle rise in farmland, it is marked on 1st edition of OS 6-inch map as a sub-rectangular enclosure (E-W c. 40m, N-S c. 30m). On 3rd edition (1932), the words ‘Burial Ground’ have been appended. What survives is a subcircular area (E-W 60m) bounded by a modern stone wall, the interior of which is still in use as a graveyard. The S part of the original enclosure is now occupied by a car parking area.

The cemetery is much visited and admired – both for its pleasant situation on a hill overlooking rolling countryside towards the South and its easy access on the main Doonaun Townland road.  There are many unmarked graves in the cemetery and some with stone markers for people that are unrecorded.  The oldest headstone inscriptions are beautiful and many contain symbols of the occupations of the deceased.


The Doonaun Bronze Age Axehead


The discovery of the Doonaun Bronze Age Axehead in 1925, which is held by the National Museum of Ireland at Kildare Street, Dublin suggests that this place is indeed the site of an ancient people and the oral history passed down refers to a battle being fought somewhere at the rear of the cemetery..  This is confirmed by the notes on the preserved Axehead held at the National Museum of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin.

The socketed Bronze Age was found in 1925 by a ploughman (un-named) in a field described as a “pre-historic battlefield “located between Dolly’s Forge and the present village of Doonaun”. The Axehead is approx 7 inches in length and is stored in a box with a National Museum of Ireland Reference number NM 1932: 6566.  The original handle would have been wooden.

The Bronze Age axes date back to between 1,500 to 3,000 years ago but in Ireland the Bronze Age generally is between 2,000 BC and 500 BC when it is thought French settlers arrived in Ireland.  The axehead was given to a Rev. P.J. Murphy CC, Milltown after being found.  In 1932 Dr. Thomas B. Costello, Bishop Street, Tuam, Co. Galway met with a Dr. Costello.  The Axe and a wooden object were sent to the National Museum of Ireland accompanied by a letter from Dr. Costello.



  • Running East to West just a field away from each farmstead was a series of stiles which crossed a right of way all the way to Monivea Castle to facilitate access to lands by workers who walked to work at Monivea Castle. A few of these still survive, others are hidden overtime by repair of walls or growth of ditches.


  • Field Names
  • Swallow holes
  • Lazy beds
  • Cis (a bridge made of scraws of heather and supported underneath by logs constructed to facilitate crossing over a drain in a bog).
  • Old trackways and narrow bridges towards the bog area in the South West
  • Remains of houses of 1800’s.
  • Flora and Fauna
This page was added on 07/01/2020.

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