Sundials in Ireland

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Mullaghmore Memorial Sundial

Mullaghmore, County Sligo, is a well known holiday destination on the west coast of Ireland. One of the most beautiful locations in Ireland, it has a harbour and a famous sandy beach which is perfect for surfing and many other water sports. Close by is the now deserted village of Mullachgearr, and about 60 years ago Freddy Mc Hugh was living alone near the village. He was very poor and one bitter, frosty winter evening, on his way home from the local shop, he sat down to rest by the roadside. He was found there by a neighbour and died shortly after in the County Home. Later his home was found to be almost devoid of wooden furniture; he had burnt it for warmth when there was nothing else. Even the bed was partially dismantled to this end. Freddy's grave is unmarked and there is no trace now of his existence save in the minds of the few who knew him. Moved by his story, the 'Mullaghmore Residents and Heritage Group' decided, on January 17th 2013, to erect a memorial in memory of both Freddy and the other, now almost forgotten people, of Mullachgearr.

Photo copyright Joe Mc Gowan ©
Sculptor Brendan McGloin and two unrelated helpers, on left- John Mc Gloin, on right- Seamus Mc Gloin

The monument consists of a low, hollow, cylindrical dry stone wall, similar to the dry stone walls of the surrounding area. On top of this is a six foot diameter capstone, made from Drumkeelin, Co. Donegal, sandstone which incorporates an inset sundial. Around the perimeter of the capstone is inscribed in Irish: I gcuimhne ar Freddy agus ar mhuintir Mullach Gearr [In memory of 'Freddy' and the people of Mullachgearr]. The top surface is divided into sections on which the names of Freddy and the villagers of Mullachgearr are memorialised. Carved emerging from the the perimeter of the stone are three heads and a skull. The skull primarily represents the famine victims of the area, one of the heads represents a Mullachgearr woman, Peggy Mor, the other two are historical figures from the area.
A time capsule, containing messages and artefacts from those who contributed towards the cost of the memorial, has been placed in the void under the capstone. By doing so, participants have retained ownership of the memorial and future generations will take pride in the fact that their forbears messages are part of the completed memorial.

Photo copyright Jacqueline Skinner ©
Joe McGowan at the unveiling of the Mullachgearr Memorial, Easter Monday 17th April 2017

The sundial was chosen as symbolic of the passing of time and the connection between the generations. There is neither a beginning nor an end to time; we are all connected to the past just as the future is connected to us. It also reminds us that we all exist in each other's shadow. Carved from Donegal limestone, the inset 13¾" diameter sundial has an 11" high stainless steel gnomon perforated with Celtic Interlacery. The dial indicates local sun-time which differs from clock time by about one and a half hours during the summer. For more information on why they differ see my webpage at
The hour lines are continuous across the dial face, starting at the root of the gnomon and terminating at the Chapter ring, which has Roman hour numerals carved in relief. Morning times are indicated by the trailing edge of the gnomon's shadow. Afternoon times by the leading edge. There are 2 hour lines at XII, with the gap of 316" between them equal to the gnomon thickness. The change-over from trailing shadow to leading shadow takes place when the gnomon shadow fills this space at noon.
Photo copyright Joe Mc Gowan ©
Christian Meyer, now resident in Co Sligo, with the completed sundial

Photo copyright Joe Mc Gowan ©
Gnomon sunset

Project co-ordinator: Joe McGowan.
Capstone sculptor: Brendan McGloin.
Sundial carving and Gnomon design: Christian Meyer
Gnomon manufacture: SF-Engineering, Co. Sligo

I am indebted to Joe McGowan for drawing this dial to my attention. Most of the above text has been copied from an information plaque at the site. M.J.Harley

Location : 10 Km south west of Bundoran leave the N15 at Cliffoney, head north for 5 Km

Lat. 54° 22' North    Long. 8° 28' West

Irish Grid    G  169750   346000

If you know the location of a sundial in Ireland (NOT a mass produced DIY Store garden ornament) please email it to me (Click here to email M.J.Harley) - a member of British Sundial Society
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