Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humor was provided to console him for what he is. Oscar Wilde
Today, I would like to present two amazing sites located not far from Dublin. The tour we took was organized by Mary Gibbons and led by her brother. It was amazing and I strongly recommend this tour, especially at the beginning of your trip to Ireland because it offers a great introduction to Irish history and culture.
A trip to Ireland has to begin with St. Patrick. Here is the story of St. Patrick and the Hill of Tara:
“In c. 433 CE, according to legend, the High King Laoghaire forbade the lighting of any fires on a given night approaching the pagan festival of Ostara when the great bonfire would be lit on the Hill of Tara. This sabbat corresponded to the Christian observance of , and sEaster, so Patrick lit his own fire on the Hill of Slane, across from Tara, which burned so brightly that the king saw it and sent his soldiers to arrest whoever had defied him and to douse the flame. Patrick and his followers eluded the soldiers through a miracle by which they appeared as a herd of deer and made their way to the king’s seat at Tara. Once there, Patrick defeated the king’s druids in debate and then preached to the king and his comrades. As this was going on, the soldiers who had been sent to arrest him returned to report Patrick’s fire could not be put out. The story ends with a number of the king’s court converting to Christianity while the king himself rejected the new faith but was impressed enough by Patrick to allow him to continue his mission.”
This church was built in 1822 and is dedicated to St. Patrick.
The Hill of Tara is an ancient inauguration site where 142 Kings were crowned. It was a political and religious centre from the early Celtic Times. It is located in the Boyne Valley 30km north of Dublin.
The Mound of the Hostages dates from the Neolithic Age and was built as a passage tomb for the collective burial of cremated remains:
The largest enclosure at Tara was designed to encircle the highest part of the hill where the crowning of kings ceremonies took place:
I am standing here beside a very special stone called Stone of Destiny, the inauguration stone of the Kings of Tara.
Near the hill is the Fairy Tree. People tie ribbons or pieces of cloth to its branches as a symbol of their prayers or wishes. This tree is also called the Wishing Tree. During this tour I learned that the belief in fairies and other pagan deities is still very strong in Ireland, especially in rural areas.
Lunch break on a farm in the company of farm animals:
Homemade soup and sandwiches:
Next we visited the prehistoric passage tomb in Newgrange; it is 5000 years old.
This is the entrance to the tomb:
Inside, a narrow passage will lead you to a chamber where the remains of the dead were placed. Notice the roof box situated above the entrance. It has a very special role to play on December 21, the winter solstice. At dawn the sun rays will enter the chamber through this roof box.
The picture of the cover of the Visitor’s Guide shows how the sun rays enter inside the passage to reach the chamber:
Many stones inside and outside the tomb are decorated with combinations of spirals, lozenges, triangles, parallel lines and arcs.
There is also an enigmatic Stone Circle beside the passage tomb:
Here are other sides of this spectacular prehistoric passage tomb designated by UNESCO a World Heritage Site:
This tour was definitely a great idea!
For more information check their website: http://newgrangetours.com/