Sep 24: Knowth and Newgrange

(I look a little confused in the above photo because mom was using my camera to take the picture and it was taking some time so I was wondering what was going on.)

Wow, what a great sleep last night. We were so weary from all that walking around Dublin yesterday, not to mention going for so long without sleep, we called it an early night and even skipped supper so we could get to bed.

We’re staying a lovely AirBnB – The Cherith Lea House in Gaskintown, Meath. The owners – Karin and Mervyn are absolutely wonderful. So kind, warm and welcoming. Karin greeted us yesterday with a huge hug, like we were old friends. The house is decorated with so many treasures that each time you walk into a room, you notice something new and it’s like walking into a different space each time. The joker in me wonders if Karin adds things or changes things up when we leave a room just to make things more interesting – kind of like that episode of Twighlight Zone when the guy gets caught between seconds…

There’s a tea corner in our room with a kettle and assorted teas, plus fresh milk, and an assortment of sweets and fruit which are replenished daily. Upon our arrival, there were two baskets – one on each bed – with toiletries and a welcome card.

Our choices for breakfast were plentiful and we decided to go with granola, yoghurt, fruit and oh my goodness…. SODA BREAD!!!! I’ve died and gone to heaven and surely to goodness hope there’s no gluten in soda bread BUT if there is, it’s the non-allergenic kind 😉

I can’t forget to mention the hot water bottles. Every night we receive a hot water bottle for our bed. It is such a treat that I have added “buy a hot water bottle” to my list of things to do when I get home.

So the plan was to head out to Newgrange then visit the Hill of Tara and, if all went well, we could fit in Monasterboice and Mellifont Abbey . Well, you know how plans have a way of changing. When we arrived at Newgrange we discovered the next tour was leaving an hour and 45 minutes later and we wouldn’t be done until after 3pm. Being the optimist, I believed we could still pull it off, well at least the Hill of Tara which is the place I’ve been most keen to visit. Oh, did I forget to mention it was pouring rain? Ya, it was raining. Not really hard but hard enough to get us wet and make photography an iffy thing.

So we had a snack at the visitor centre – I am so loving the tea here. Not so much the taste of it but the fact they have it everywhere and it’s offered so naturally. I’m not used to that but am taking full of advantage of it – visited the exhibition and gift store and then boarded our bus to Knowth.

For those of you who have never heard of Knowth and Newgrange, they’re very interesting and very old places people like to visit. No, but seriously, they are megalithic passage tombs built by Neolithic farming communities about 5000 years ago and some have astronomical alignments like Newgrange during the Winter Solstice and Loughcrew at the Equinox. The carvings on the stones are incredible, as are the structures themselves.

I enjoyed walking on the top of the largest mound at Knowth where you could see so much of the surrounding countryside – even through the blustering wind and rain. And I enjoyed being in the small chamber inside Newgrange as the guide turned the lights out to demonstrate how the sunlight shines through the structure and lights up the floor of the chamber. The actual event happens for about 5 days every year at the winter solstice – on the actual solstice and several days leading up to it. The rest of the time the chamber is completely dark. The first set of pictures below are of Knowth and the second set are of Newgrange.

 

What I didn’t enjoy so much was the crazy-ass yellow rain poncho I bought for under $20 at Canadian Tire last month. It flapped like crazy in the wind and apparently was loud to everyone around, not just me, as people continued to turn and glare at me while the guide was giving her spiel (sp?), not to mention when I would aim my camera and just about click the shutter when yellow plastic flew in front of the lens… or Mom’s blue plastic would fly in front of it too. A couple of times it flew right over my head and I couldn’t see anything but yellow! Now we know to invest in a real rain coat for the next time we’re in Ireland. (Rain ponchos in the shot and Mom and I wearing them.)

When we got back to the visitor centre, we stopped by the cafeteria because Mom had seen wine for sale. Imagine! Selling wine at a place like this. So we bought two small bottles to take back to our AirBnB. I had looked through the gift shop before our tour and didn’t see anything I was willing to part with my Euros for but mom was interested in a couple of things so I had another look around and, wouldn’t you know it they must have added new stuff while I was away! (Oh oh. I see a trend here and think it has more to do with my inattention to details than people actually changing things up on me. BUT just to be sure, I jokingly asked the cashier and she assured me the items were there earlier too. I really must pay more attention ;)) I bought a lovely leather satchel/purse, the most gorgeous journal and a couple of coasters. 



We stopped at Carronstown Lodge Pub for supper (recommended by our hosts) and had a lovely fish (cod) and chips dinner. As we walked in to what appeared to be a solarium, there were a few folks watching a soccer game across the way. A young Irish man greeted us and explained they were watching the football game and proceeded to give us the score, not to mention he also asked how we were doing. Later on, another gent was ringing up our bill and told us it was €23 then looked at the device again and said, “that would be $49 CAD (or something to that effect). He looked as shocked as we did and he said “Is that OK?” which prompted me to laugh and reply “No!” just as he responded “I don’t know why I said that, there’s not much you could do about it…” I asked if he had dishes that needed doing, and so went our funny exchange.

We had a great day, even with the rain and are spending a quiet night in. As I type this blog entry, I am sipping a glass of the white wine we purchased at the visitor centre, sitting across from a lovely fire and just enjoying life!

Sláinte!

What I now know:

We’re definitely not bus tour people. We always figured that but today was a great reminder to never do it. We were ALWAYS last to arrive to the bus. So much so that the bus from Newgrange didn’t wait for us. It left without us. Thankfully there was another one a few minutes later that had seats available. What can I say, I like to take my time and make sure I see everything in my own way and my own time – rain be damned!

The famous Irish charm and friendliness is more prevalent in the country than in the Dublin. 

Rain ponchos are a bad idea except for a Niagara Falls boat tour. Just saying. 

Hot water bottles are the way to go. I might have to get one for the rest of the trip. 😉

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