On Sunday we had more time, so me and Kevin drove out of the city to the northwest. We headed to the historical site Newgrange, but when we got there, we found out we had to buy tickets at a completely different place. So, we drove around quite a long distance (the lack of roads stopped us from taking a shortcut), and finally managed to get some tickets.
The site itself is a big stone age tomb. From a distance it looks like a big grassy knoll that kind pops out of the landscape because it is a bit too regular in shape, a man-made hill of sorts. Part of the outer wall is covered in white pieces of quartz and studded with grey eggs of granite. The entrance is a dark opening into the earth, megalithic slabs of rock on the sides and top. A few meters in front of the entrance is a big megalith covered in five thousand year old spiral carvings. It’s all rather majestic.
The inside is a surprisingly small chamber with a domed roof made from giant slabs of rock. There is some stone age art like spirals and such inside and even some graffiti from the nineteenth century but the undoubtedly best part of it is seeing how it would look on the equinox, when the low winter sun shines in through a narrow slit above the door. You get a golden ray of light along the floor, forming a point just where it hits a special stone at the end of the chamber. It’s pretty special and I really wish I could see the real thing.
When we were finished with Newgrange, we consulted our maps and brochures to see where we should go next. Kevin thought Trim castle and a monument in Kells looked good so we headed that way.
The castle in Trim was awesome. It was a fairly big castle ruins with a mostly intact central keep and remains of the walls and a few other buildings. You could get a guided tour but you were free to roam around at will if you wanted to. We naturally choose the latter option and I spent a good hour or so climbing around while Kevin did the civilized thing and stayed on the ground taking photos.
When I had climbed across nearly every part of the castle ruins, we headed off to Kells and the monument we hoped to see there. It was a bit of a drive but not too bad for some interesting tourist site or other. The problem was, when our GPS in a stern voice announced “Arriving at destination” we could see nothing of what we were looking for. Not until we where nearly past did we notice the stone cross by the side of the road. The monument we had come to see was nothing more than that. We laughed at the silliness of the situation, made a u-turn, then stopped to look at the rather dismal excuse for a tourist destination. We did feel a bit disappointed when we turned homeward, but other than that small sightseeing mishap, it was a pretty good day. In my opinion both Newgrange and Trim castle are well worth a visit.