The day breaks early. Long before 5 a.m.
New Grange is on the agenda on our way to Slane Castle. Chloe picked Slane Castle as a “must see” while here. So we are all determined she will see it.
First, the prehistoric passage tomb.
I can’t show you pictures from being in the tomb. But in it we did go. You will have to search for pictures. No pictures are allowed to be taken. The pictures I have seen do not give you the impression, the impact of standing within this 5,000 year old wonder. It is more than amazing. It was built by brilliant people. They built this magnificent structure 1000 years before Stonehenge, 500 years before the pyramids of Egypt were built. Our guide was wonderful:
He shared his knowledge and his passion. Stories of his granda.
This place is over 5000 years old. It is built so superbly it has not had a drop of water in the tomb since it has been built. Dry. Comfortable. There are 5000 year old carvings that draw your eye and make you stare. The engineering and construction rival anything done since. It is still here. Most structures built since, are not. The knowledge of astronomy is evident in the construcion, evidence of the movement of the earth throwing the alignment off of 5000 years ago.
From there we went to Slane Castle.
I would like to think I hold no grudge against the Bloody British. I mean the English. But today England was not well represented. We pull up to the gate and it says tours Sunday through Thursday. Today is Friday. The walk through gate is closed. There is a sign that points in another direction and it is open. So we drive up there. There are absolutely no signs posted saying “do not enter” or “go the hell away”. So we pull up to the front of the castle. To get Chloe’s pictures. She stood on the steps, a lady looked at her through the window and waved an “it’s okay” wave to Chloe to get pictures. We stayed in the parking lot. We were respectful. We realized the castle was closed, but did not realize you shouldn’t be up there. Suddenly a long, not so new, Mercedes whipped in to the parking lot and an English chap had his window rolled down and barked “the castle is closed today”. We said “oh, okay” and headed for our car. Which was right next to us. He then barked “that’s why the gates are closed”. I had it on the tip of my tongue to bark back “do you think we tossed the car over the gate and jumped back in to drive up”? He was not doing his job. He was being an ass. Which by the way, he probably was not doing his job which is why we did drive through a gate and drove up. He was likely angry because he was caught snoozing in a stable and some bloody yanks got in and were doing all kinds of damage taking pictures.
So David has told Chloe that anyone can go see Slane Castle. Not every one gets kicked out of an Ireland set castle by a bloody Englishman anymore. So add that to the list of experiences we are all racking up. Kicked out of a castle.
All that being said. We shouldn’t have gone up. But we weren’t sure that “no tour” meant you can’t look at it. So we looked. And that idiot gave me fodder to complain about for quite some time. Apparently enough to still be doing it.
We left and went to the Hill of Slane. Where St. Patrick lit the first Easter fire on the hill, against the orders of the High King. The good Saint didn’t (or did he) know this. It was all good. The King’s druid ended up converting to Christianity.
Off we went to a pub for lunch. And by golly that guy at Fergie’s was a right lovely fella. And he served up some fantastic food. David felt so inspired by his “breakfast sandwich” that he took a picture.
From there we left behind the rudest man in Ireland. Yes, I am having a difficult time letting go of that. But by golly we got the picture!
Then to the land of the the Ard Ri (I don’t know how to add the accents so just pretend that is written in pretty Irish). Tara, the seat of the High Kings. If you are not aware of the importance of Tara, or the purpose and history it may appear as a very pretty place. But if you know at least some of the stories it makes your heart race. Mine was galloping. I’m not sure of the history because it is a bit confusing. I always thought the Banquet Hall was for sure the Banquet Hall. But my book told me today that it may actually be the main road, as all roads at the time of Tara’s peak led to the Hill of Tara. Regardless. If they all sat there and feasted or whether it was the spot all subjects and Kings entered it holds me in awe.
They have shops there. I saw a ring that was STUNNING. I asked the price. I walked away.
On the way home by golly we found another castle. In Trim. The largest castle in Ireland. We walked up to the gate to read about the castle and the Irish fellow closed the gate. He was very nice and told us about the monastery built two hundred years later. He pointed out to us where to walk so we could take some pictures. Built in the 1100’s. It will be standing much longer than the present buildings that surround it.
This is the River Boyne that runs along the Castle Trim and he who commands it for a second.
After paying homage to all of these incredible sights I find myself still thinking about New Grange. Standing inside the tomb. Looking up at the spiral layout of the stones to the very top stone, the capstone. The people who started building it likely never saw the completion of it. There must have been a plan and generations involved in it’s completion. While we stood inside our guide turns the light off. There is total blackness. Total. It’s darkness is heavy but not fearful. Mostly because you are in there with twenty other people. But he talks to us. He tells us that the only thing holding these hundreds of tons of rock above us is the rock by rock structure that starts below us. No mortar. I’m amazed at the brilliance. The determination. The strength and power it took for these people to create this lasting monument. Shivers. It was my favorite place today.
I love Ireland.