Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Chilling out in Dublin

Greetings from Ireland !!

I’m currently crashed at my friend’s place (thanks Anne), in the lovely seaside suburb of Sutton, near Howth.

Now...I could go on about all the wonderful sights there are to see in Dublin (like the Book of Kells; Trinity College; Kilmannon Jail; the Guinness Brewery; etc...) but to be honest, apart from the bookstores in town (yep...spending waaaaay too much time & money there), I haven’t done any of that.

I’ve been doing some serious “chill out” time by the seaside, catching my breath after the adventure-packed six weeks on the continent.

That’s not to say that I’ve been a total sloth the last week. I’ve done a couple of day trips out to the countryside, which included:

Newgrange burial chamber

Situated on a bend in the Boyne River, this 5,500 yr old burial chamber (yep….older than the Pyramids) commands the views across the Boyne Valley. This area has over 40 such burial cairns scattered around the place. What makes Newgrange so special (apart from being the largest) is that the entrance way is perfectly aligned with the rising sun during the winter solstice (December 17 – 23). At this time, light will pierce the inner chamber & cause it to glow with the most amazing colour (so the guides tell us). The tomb is also decorated with some of the most intricate & amazing spiral artwork that no-one really knows the meaning of.

There is another, more thoroughly researched cairn called Knowth nearby (with even more amazing & intricate spiral designs) but it’s closed during the winter months.

Newgrange holds a special place in my heart so I make an effort to come back here whenever I’m in Ireland.

Trim Castle & surrounds

The next time you watch “Braveheart” (& don’t get me started on the historical inaccuracies in that film !!!), pay attention to the castles...because, more than likely, it’ll be Trim. Apparently the execution scene at the end of the film, was filmed inside the castles walls, with the town folks of Trim playing the part of the peasants.

Trim Castle was to be used as one of the major strategic castles in Ireland & that shows in its construction & fortifications. If you get a chance, take the tour of the castle keep.

Around Trim, there are a number of ye-olde monastic sights such as the Cathedral of Sts Peter & Paul; Newton Abbey; Crutched Friary & Bective Friary. I didn’t get a chance to look at Bective Friary as the grounds were locked & it started to piss down rain at that point !!

Loughcrew Burial Cairns

To the west of Trim & about an hour out from Dublin are the Loughcrew Burial Cairns. They sit atop three hills that provide outstanding views to the surrounding countryside. They’re about 5,000 yrs old.

To get to them takes a bit of a walk up hills & through sheep paddocks (kinda like Wales really !!!) but the view from the tops of the hills (alone) is worth the effort. I wonder what this site would’ve looked like all those years ago ??


Anne & I went down to Wexford for the day to catch up with friends of hers. The day was the worst for travelling: howling winds & rain. By the time we actually got to Wexford, the weather had turned really nasty !! You were having to walk at a 45 degree angle !! Catching up with Tim & Olivia was great: we had a lovely chin-wag & great dinner. By the time we drove back to Dublin (at midnight), the sky was clear & no hint of wind.

The weather

How could I talk about Ireland & not talk about the weather. In two words: $%*@ing windy & cold (OK...that’s three words). It rains every couple of days which I don’t mind but the wind is incredible !! I nearly got blown off the carins at Loughcrew a number of times !!

The advantage of travelling in Ireland at this time of year is that there aren’t as many tourists, which means sites such as Newgrange aren’t crowded. The down-side (apart from the weather) is that some sites won’t be open.

Well...that’s it for this post.

The next post will be about my adventures up in Donegal & Sligo.

Until then…take care



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