Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ireland, Day 3: Newgrange, Tara and River Dance

Returning to our Ireland trip from this summer:

  • Day 1: Adventures with Ryanair
  • Day 2- Walking Tour of Dublin
  • Day 3 - Newgrange, Tara and River Dance
So after we had our historical overview of Dublin/Ireland, I think we started our next day going to the beginning of that Irish History. The idea was to take our bus day trips the first couple of days before my nephew's family and my hubby joined us later in the week.


Newgrange is a Megalithic Passage Tomb built around 3200BC. This makes it more than 600 years older than the Giza Pyramids in Egypt, and 1,000 years more ancient than Stonehenge. Megalithic means "big rocks" and a Passage Tomb is, obviously, a tomb in which there is a long passage way to get into the tomb area. At the base of the mound there are "kerbstones" (big rectangular carved rocks) that go all the way around.

Two interesting things about Newgrange

1) the "megalithic" carvings in the rocks

2) The passage and chamber of Newgrange are illuminated by the winter solstice sunrise. A shaft of sunlight shines through the roof box over the entrance and penetrates the passage to light up the chamber. The dramatic event lasts for 17 minutes at dawn on the Winter Solstice and for a few mornings either side of the Winter Solstice. (think Indiana Jones when the light comes in the tomb and lights up the jewel on the staff that opens the secret chamber...only here there is no secret chamber....that we found.). On the tour they demonstrate this with a flashlight.

As we approach:

When of Professor Michael J. O'Kelly excavated and restored the mound, he decided that the quartz rocks would have been like a retaining wall. This is a controversial decision.

Close up of the wall:

The entrance to the burial site. The square thing in the middle is where the light goes in at winter solstie.

Close up of the detail on the "kerbstone":

View from the Hill:

Next on our Bus Tour was "The Hills of Tara".

The Hill of Tara was once the ancient seat of power in Ireland – 142 kings are said to have reigned there in prehistoric and historic times. In ancient Irish religion and mythology Tara was the sacred place of dwelling for the gods, and was the entrance to the otherworld. Saint Patrick is said to have come to Tara to confront the ancient religion of the pagans at its most powerful site.

As you enter the area at the base of the hill:

When you go up to the Hill of Tara, the key word is Hill. This is the High Cross. There are some ancient rings that are still seen in the hill...I think we climbed up and down them but I was too worried about sheep "offerings."

The Sheep of Tara:

When we got back we saw Riverdance which is still playing in Dublin.

We heard an older lady ask "I wonder if Michael Flatley will be performing." Alas, no dear, he left the show in 1995. Did you know that Micheal Flatley was actually born in the USA?

1 comment:

Beth said...

I thought it was interesting that you spelled Michael 'Micheal'. The Celtic has rubbed off.