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Dowth, Knowth & Newgrange

Ireland 2008

View Ireland on spec (2008) on Stefmuts's travel map.

large_1297706_14348108455769.jpgToday we start of with taking some pictures in Carlington, Abbey, tower , city gate, the Mint and near the harbour King Johns Castle. Then off to Monasterboice, a 5th century settlement where there are three high crosses and a round tower, Muiredach’s Cross should be specially beautiful. The route was more difficult, the route planner gave destination reached in the middle of the highway (?) but we did find the site. The round tower is roof-less and there are also ruins of two churches. Near the tower is the 6,5m high West high cross and in the centre of the cemetery the beautiful decorated Muiredach’s Cross, North high cross is tucked away in the back and less decorated.

Then off to Newgrange [Newgrange-travel-guide-1309872], another ‘must see’ on my list.large_1297706_14348113229302.jpgMonasterboice, West high crossIt’s Europe’s most famous megalithic Passage Tomb dated around 3200BC which makes it older than Stonehenge. On our way to Newgrange we see the Dowth tomb, my book says not accessible to visitors so we don’t stop there, doesn’t seem much to see anyway. Dowth was unprofessional excavated in 1847, which left a crater in the centre of the mound, we later learn that the site itself can be visited and only the passage chambers are not open for the public. At the Newgrange visitors centre there are also tours to Knowth, one of the other important sites besides Newgrange. We decide to take the Knowth tour and a good choise it was! A bus took us to the site where we were greeted by a guide. The guide had a whole lot of story to tell in too short a time, about how the site over the years has been occupied by the builders, the early Christians and the Normans who even had their settlement on the mound.large_1297706_14348113868488.jpg The funeral ritual according to the experts: only the bones were after the cremation interred in the tomb. The tomb itself we were not allowed in, but we could go inside the corridor a bit, and we could take some pictures there. The site consists of a large double tomb hall and several smaller passage graves around it. The large tomb has ornate stones all around and the finest specimens are placed at both entrances. These stones are 1/3 of all decorated stones found in Europe of this age, so a really special site. Unfortunately, after the tour there was not much time to roam around on our own.

To Newgrange again by bus. Here the ornate entrance of the passage tomb has been restored as the specialists think and calculated it must have once looked like. White quartz stone with rounded granite boulders.large_1297706_1434811371447.jpg At the entrance is a stone carved with a three spiral shape that is adopted by the archaeological service as its logo. You can visit inside the tomb, but no photos or video, so I put my camera away (I know myself)

Through the gate with its skylight through the narrow corridor to the burial chamber, here are three richly decorated niches, in the eastern niche is a stone basin and the ceiling is decorated with spiral and zigzag shapes. In the days around December 21 (winter solstice) the sun shines in attendance about 17 minutes through the skylight on the northern wall of the recess. This was discovered in 1967, there were already stories about the midsummer solstice as at Stonehenge so they gathered around on June 21, but nothing happened. Then someone came up with the idea to come back on December 21.large_1297706_14348125139572.jpg

In the western niche again the three spiral shape, just like at the entrance and on the outside at the rear. To get an idea of what exactly happens at sunrise around December 21 they turned off the lights and when everyone is a little used to the dark sunrise is simulated by shining a light through the skylight. The real event must be a very special thing to experience, which is however only for a small select group of people. Each year there is a lottery held among people who want to experience it.

On the way out we can see the ornate stonework in the walls, upon entering your eyes are a little less habituated to the dim light and you don't see them. Back outside my camera clicked just in front of the entrance ... I just can't help myself!


Posted by Stefmuts 04:23 Archived in Ireland Tagged landscapes castle megalithic high_cross Comments (0)

Killybegs to Buncrana

Ireland 2008

View Ireland on spec (2008) on Stefmuts's travel map.

large_1297706_14345728077761.jpgToday again a beautiful and sunny day. In the port of Killybegs, we were pointed to the presence of some seals, they did not come real close but you could see their heads sticking out of the water. Today on the program Slieve League, with 598 meters Europe's largest cliff. This is really spectacular. You can walk all the way along the edge of the cliff, we didn't follow the whole trail though. On our way back down we started a conversation with a photographer who was waiting for just the right lightfall, he wanted to know if the view was getting better further up, we said not better, just different. He would wait a bit for the perfect shot and then go down for a really bad cup of coffee. He stated the Irish can't cook and can't make a decent cup of coffee (nb. he's an Irishman himself) I don't think the Irish can't cook but on the coffee part I think he's right.large_1297706_14345728317621.jpg

We drive to Dungloe and through the Derryveagh Mountains. Nice view on Errigal, highest mountain of Derryveagh. It looks like there's snow on the top but that only the light color rocks.

Then Letterkenny and on to the Inishowen peninsula. We visit Grianán Ailigh. The first building in this place dates back to 5th century BC and the current form is the result of the restorations that have taken place around 1870. Through narrow stairs on the wall you can climb the terraces where you have a beautiful view of the surroundings.large_1297706_14345728544630.jpg

Then we drive to Carndonagh, there should be a beautiful 7th century high cross there. We start our search at the cemetery, up till now all high crosses were at the cemetery, not this one though! We asked a local about it and he said follow me I will show you where it’s at. We walked up to the street, got in his car (!), drove a bit (not too far) and there it was, just by the side of the road. The man told us it used to be on the opposite side of the road but was moved with road works. He offered to wait to bring us back to the cemetery but we thought it would be fine to walk back, it’s not that far, so we thanked him and he left. The high cross is really beautiful and obviously very old. It’s the first one with its own roof to protect it for the effects of the weather.

Then a walk back to where we parked our car and on our way to our next B&B in Buncrana. Navigating is a bit more difficult because the lead language in Donegal [Donegal-travel-guide-936171] county is Gaelic and though most signs are both in English and Gaelic some are just in Gaelic. So is Letterkenny in Gaelic Leitir ceanainn and the city Centre is an lár. but we managed to get to the right place


Posted by Stefmuts 04:18 Archived in Ireland Tagged landscapes cliffs high_cross Comments (0)

Kilkenny to Cork along the coastline

Ireland 2008

View Ireland on spec (2008) on Stefmuts's travel map.

large_1297706_14329766571866.jpgFisherman (Dunmore East)From Kilkenny we drove to Waterford [Waterford-travel-guide-939352] and further to the small port town ofDunmore East. At the harbour we watched the fisherman repairing their gear, interesting stuff for us landlubbers.

Then along the coast to Dungarvan and thence to Youghal. Youghal has a bell tower which was originally the city gate, the road leads here under. Unfortunately not open to the public just as Tyntes Castle, this is a 15th century tower, I would have loved to take a look inside. Instead wehad a cappuccino at the harbor and went on to Midleton.large_1297706_14329766992912.jpg We visited the Old Midleton distillery, only looking at the buildings from the outside, it's also a Jamesons distillery and we already did a tour in Dublin [Dublin-travel-guide-936355].

Next stop: Cobh, from 1849 till 1921 it was called Queenstown, yes, the Titanic's Queenstown. We visited st. Colman’s Cathedral, very impressive and then on to Cork [Cork-travel-guide-935857], taking the ferry, ignoring our route planner (sometimes the best way to go!). Cork has Irelands largest building, officially opened on the 17th (saw that on TV) hard to get a nice picture of it though. We planned to stay the night in Cork, the book already warned us for lack of private parking in Cork so we just drove around a bit to look for a B&B with private parking. We found Gabriel House, the the girl at the counter tried to persuade us to stay more than one night and thinking about all the things to see in this area and after seeing our room we decided to stay two nights, no problem the girl told us (yes problem it turned out to be)


Posted by Stefmuts 22:26 Archived in Ireland Tagged landscapes churches cork kilkenny high_cross Comments (0)

Dublin-Kilkenny through Wicklow mountains

Ireland 2008

View Ireland on spec (2008) on Stefmuts's travel map.

large_1297706_14329748781751.jpgIt was a bit of a hassle to get out of Dublin. We drove throuhg Wicklow mountains national park to Glendalough [Glendalough-travel-guide-1309844], one of the must sees on my list. Glendalough is famous for its Monastic Site with Round Tower and the two lakes. But first we drive though the winding roads of the Wicklow mountains with highland like views (sorry if I offended Ireland by that comment, I meant it well). We had to stop a couple of times because of sheep on the road. The famous round Tower at Glendalough is on the cemetery. We have to pass a double gated entrance to get there. The tower is 30 meters high and is said to be the one of the most beautiful in the country.Round towers wereclock towersthat also served as a repository of valuable manuscripts and watchtowers to guard the cemetery against grave robbers.large_1297706_14329749016433.jpg The entrance is mostly placed at about 4 meters above the ground and can be reached by usinga ladder that could be brought in to make it difficult for intruders.The tower is nice but I'm actual more interested in the beautiful irish crosses.

At the cemetery there are also the ruins of a church and several outbuildings. We walked along the Lower lake up to the Upper lake where we went to take a look at the Poulanass waterfall and ruin of the Reefert Church. At Upper lake the trail went further up the slope to another few ruins, but we had seen enough. We walked down the other bank of Lower lake back to the starting point.

On the way to Kilkenny [Kilkenny-travel-guide-937251] we passed the ruins of a abby, we stopped the car to take a look around. Unfortunately the local youth has established its base here, empty beer cans and candy wrappers.

In Kilkenny we found B&B Olinda, bit dated a toilet with issues and bring your own towels but good enough


Posted by Stefmuts 03:49 Archived in Ireland Tagged landscapes ruins dublin kilkenny high_cross Comments (0)

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