Hill of Tara, Trim Castle, New Grange Monterboice

Trip Start Mar 24, 2004
Trip End Apr 05, 2004

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Flag of Ireland  ,
Monday, April 5, 2004

Todays the full last day of sightseeing, so we're packing as much in as possible. 

We've decided to add Trim Castle to the list. It's the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland, and is reputed as the king of Irish castles. It was "the" castle in the film Braveheart. The castle is huge, but could be considered a ruin in many areas.

 Our guide took us inside the massive keep.This central area has a vaulted ceiling. If you look straight up, you can see the walkways above you. The stairs, not original to the keep, but not resembling anything that the US would let you put in a tourist attraction, were steep, narrow and at the top a very narrow and high walkway without railings that looks down to the bottom of the keep.

The bathroom, yes this castle did have a type of "plumbing" which was a hole in the floor. We saw the murder holes, these were openings in the floor that stones or boiling water was poured thru to fend off the attackers.  

This wouldn't be my choice for young children or adults with vertigo..  But at the top you reach the roof, and beautiful views of the village. For no furniture, it was pretty impressive.

 I'd like to stay in Trim for at least two nights next time. The town is quaint and you can do so many day trips out of here.

 Somehow, and it was hard, we found the high road to the Hill of Tara, the seat of the High Kings of Ireland. Maybe I was expecting more, the history of Ireland starts here.

And maybe because it was such a cold blustery day that I just didn't feel the "power" of the Hill. We walked the grounds, but without a tour, which wasn't available , the small signs just didn't work for me. This was a dissapointment. Maybe next time.

Then on to Navan.  We're headed for the world's oldest building. The Pyramids?? Nope Newgrange Passage tomb has these beaten .

These tombs - there are three that are open in the valley, and more not excavated are over 5200 years old. We purchase our tickets at the visitor center and are told to walk over the bridge to the bus stop. We're lucky that it's a slow day and we don't have to wait. The bus - a small one is already there. It's a couple minute drive to the tomb.

Our guide meets us infront of the entrance. There's 15 in our group, and 4 of them are baskeball players. "watch your head" is said many times as our group goes thru the small entrance to the inner chamber. I walk straight thru and turn to the basketball player behind me who is bent in half. "sometimes shortness helps" I say. He just laughs.

Once inside you can see the carvings in the inner walls. Then the guide tells us that the tomb is going to go dark, and not to move. A light starts illuminating the inner tomb. It's a recreation of winter solstice. It's amazing. Now I want to be here during the solstice to experience it.

The visitors center has more exhibits and photos of the other passage tombs. We should have scheduled more time in this area. The Knowth tombs are larger.

We've to check into Rosedale B&B in Slane. It's not a far drive, and the Boyne Valley is as scenic as it is historic. Rosedale is a comfortable property. The ower isn't Irish, but she's nice.

We're pointed to our last destination. Monaseterboice. We're lost more than a few times. It's the language barrier on the pronounciation. And we don't have it written down. We finally find the road and pull into the monestary. But there isn't an entrance.
We find a set of stair against the wall. These are here to keep the animals out. So up and over we go. The round tower has lost it's top but is still impressive. Next we are looking for two important crosses.  
The Tall Cross, 18 feet high and also known as West Cross, is the tallest high cross in existence. Close to it is Muiredach's Cross. 
The 18 feet high cross consists of three parts. The center of the west face has a crucifixion scene, contrasted by a "last judgement" on the east face. Other panels show scenes from the Old and New Testaments, including the Passion, the Adoration of the Magi, Moses smiting a rock, David smiting Goliath and even the Fall of Man with Eve giving an apple to Adam and Cain slaying Abel.

Pretty impressive, and we're happy to have seen them. But, I've saved the best cross for last. The McCullough cross. Nothing as historic as the other two, but this is a personal. Gary and I are standing in front of his ancestor's cross. This is his grandmothers family. We just stand silently in front of the cross, then reach to touch it. Tears are in my eyes.  It's a quiet drive back to the B&B. Then hunger calls and we are walking across the street for a ploughmans dinner at Conyngham Arms Hotel. Then a quiet night.  
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