Barrows are among the most common prehistoric monuments in Ireland, with over 3000 examples recorded on the Irish landscape. The barrow tradition dates back to the Neolithic period and continued into the early medieval period. Barrows are typically defined as circular enclosures of earth and/or stone, often featuring a bank and ditch, though there are also examples without these features, consisting only of a simple mound. The interior of a barrow can take the form of a flat platform or shallow depression, but the most common type found in Ireland is the ring barrow. These barrows feature a low mound that rises gradually from the enclosing ditch and have an overall diameter of 15 to 25 meters.

Excavations of barrows have indicated that they were primarily used as funerary monuments. The central mound often conceals a shallow pit where cremated or unburnt bones were placed, with many barrows containing only a single cremation. However, there are also examples of barrows that show repeated use over time, such as Tumulus 8 at Carrowjames in Co. Mayo, which contained 25 cremations. Some barrows contain little or no remains, as was the case for 19 barrows excavated by Ó Riordáin in Lissard, Co. Limerick.

Barrow cemeteries, ranging in size, can also be found in Ireland and often appear in conjunction with other monuments. Some of the largest barrow cemeteries are located in Co. Limerick, with Elton townland in the southeast of the county containing 39 ring barrows in an area measuring only 300 meters from east to west.