Dublin to Belfast

We had a lovely fine day in Ireland for our drive from Dublin to Belfast (I even managed to get sunburnt). I had a wonderful day indulging in some fine celtic history!

First stop was The Hill of Tara – an Iron Age hilltop enclosure that was reputedly the ancient seat of the High Kings of Ireland.

This standing stone is believed to be The Stone of Destiny (where the High Kings were crowned).

Stone of Destiny

The elevation at Tara affords some spectacular views over the Boyne Valley.

views of the Boyne Valley from Tara

From Tara we headed to Newgrange and Knowth. These are neolithic passage tombs (both over 5000 years old) that are highly significant and are listed as world heritage sites. Tours for both places leave from the visitors center and tickets are limited, with tours running every half hour. This is a very popular site – so if you ever visit here – arrive early and give yourself plenty of time. After buying your ticket you are bused to each site at your allocated time – with each guided tour taking 48 people (2 bus loads) and lasting an hour at each cairn. We arrived around 11am and left about 2:45pm.

At Knowth there is a larger main burial mound which is surrounded by 18 satellite mounds. Knowth also has a third of the total number of examples of megalithic art in Western Europe.

Art on a kerbstone of the main burial mound

Art on a kerbstone of the main burial mound

satellite mounds at Knowth

satellite mounds at Knowth

Newgrange is probably the best known Irish passage tomb. It looks a bit more impressive than Knowth and is better preserved. You are also able to enter the passage at Newgrange, but are unable to do so at Knowth.

Ireland_Newgrange

There are some wonderful examples of neolithic Celtic stone art here as well.

Entrance to Newgrange

Entrance to Newgrange

Our final stop today before heading to Belfast was at Monasterboice. Monasterboice was founded in the 5th century as a monastic settlement and the ruins of the medieval monastery are within the graveyard. This site also includes a roofless 35m high round tower and two churches, but best of all it contains some spectacular examples of 10th century High Crosses.

Ireland_Monast_Crosses

Another happy day for me! 🙂

 

The countdown is on!

It’s time for me to get excited! The countdown has begun in earnest for our trip to Ireland.

I am just about sorted, packed and ready to go. Packing has been difficult – I am expecting quite a bit of rain and it’s going to be much cooler than it is here in north Texas at the moment. We will be going from high 90’sF to 60 or maybe 70F temperatures (mid 30’s to teen temps in Celsius). Anyway, what I don’t pack I can buy there – that will be my excuse for doing some shopping. 

  
 As I love everything Celtic, Ireland is a dream trip for me. I am looking forward to all the historical sites, the pubs, the live music, the art, the culture, the scenery, the castles, oh, the list goes on! 

We leave from DFW airport tomorrow evening and fly to Dublin via London. I plan to hit the ground running with a visit to Trinity college (the book of Kells) and Dublin castle high on my list of must dos. I pretty much have an idea of what I want to see and do and have planned our trip accordingly. After a couple of days in Dublin, we are driving ourselves anti clockwise around the island with our first stop being Belfast. We will explore as much as I can fit in in the 3 weeks we will be there. Happy times for me!

Stay tuned – I will be posting our adventures as we go!