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A Gruesome Tale in Ballyferriter

The unassuming village of Ballyferriter (Baile an Fheirtearaigh), part of the Slea Head Drive, is named after a local rebel named Piaras Ferriter, a poet and soldier who fought in the 1641 rebellion and ultimately became the last area commander to surrender to Oliver Cromwell’s English troops.

Just north of the village, however, lie relics of an even darker chapter of the village’s history. Follow signs to the moody ruins of the Dún an Oir Fort, a defensive citadel dating from the Iron Age. A small memorial is dedicated to 600 Spanish and Irish troops who were massacred here by the English in 1580. Most were beheaded—a fact commemorated by the highly gruesome local names for two adjacent fields nearby. The first, where the executions were carried out, is called “the Field of the Cutting.” The second, where their partial remains were buried, is “the Field of the Heads.”

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