There are some places you read about that encourage your imagination to reach beyond its borders of imagery. Brú na Bóinne located outside the village of Dunore by the River Boyne did this to mine. To be completely honest, I didn’t really have much thought about where our travels in Ireland might take us until I started reading “Ireland” by Frank Delaney. Kris had found it in her search for more Irish history and loved it. The book is written in the oral tradition of passing down history merging myth with fact by an itinerant storyteller. One of the first chapters tells of “The Architect” of Newgrange and it completely captured my imagination. Though we may never know the absolute truth of one of the oldest constructions in history, the story about the architect caught me up completely so I was delighted to visit Brú na Bóinne with Kris. Here is a link to read more about the author Frank Delaney and his writings on Ireland- http://frankdelaney.com/index.php

From everything we had heard and read about the ancient site we knew there was a possibility that we may not be able to get tickets due to the specific count of tourists allowed on each appointment. That and the chance of rain could hamper our chances to see this monumental piece of history but once again we were blessed by arriving around 2:00 on Friday the 3rd of May just in time to buy tickets for the next to last tour of the day for Knowth and Newgrange.  The weather looked manageable but there is always the chance of rain in Ireland but this was of no concern to us. The only way to visit the prehistoric monuments is to take the shuttle bus assigned to your ticket from the visitor center (which is quite nice with its presentation of history and archaeological facts). This means even if the weather threatens and trust me it will, you have a safe haven once you are back inside the shuttle bus.

Kris and I choose to visit both Knowth and Newgrange which entail about a 45 minute to hour tour of each. Visitors are allowed into a small passage open on Knowth but that is all due to damage and instabilities inside the great passage tomb. On the other hand, you are allowed to walk on top of Knowth which is an incredibly windy but stunning view. There are a few of the smaller grassy mounds surrounding Knowth available to view and the River Boyne is in the background of all this magnificence. Small groups of visitors are allowed to enter into the small passage and chamber in Newgrange with the tour guide. If you are claustrophobic I’d suggest you don’t do this.  Newgrange is most notable for the small opening or ‘roof box’ right above the passage entrance. “At dawn on the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year (December 21st) and for a number of days before and after, a shaft of sunlight enters the chamber through an opening in the roof box.” – (excerpt from http://www.worldheritageireland.ie/bru-na-boinne/built-heritage/newgrange/). Each guide reenacts this spiritual event for the group of visitors by turning off all light for a few moments. It is incredible. For more info click on the previous link to read more. No pictures allowed inside the passage and chamber but I am sure you understand why.

I will admit that once again I was thankful for my wool hat and that my dear Kris was wearing her Aran Islands sweater as the wind has a chill like no other I am aware of in Ireland. Regardless of the wind and a few drops of rain we returned to the shuttle center and hopped on our next bus to Newgrange. The center is not very far from the passage tomb sites but the area is populated with local homes and farms.The organized tours help to keep the tourist off the narrow lanes and protect the integrity of the area. I am sure the locals appreciate the fact that tourists aren’t traipsing through their fields and meadows too.

Making sure the inconsistencies of my account of the history about  Brú na Bóinne don’t leave you lacking for information, here is an official UNESCO site link to read more http://www.worldheritageireland.ie/bru-na-boinne/

Images of Brú na Bóinne:

The Knowth site and the smaller passage tombs surrounding it.

The Knowth site and some of the smaller passage tombs surrounding it.

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Ireland 2013 511

Walking on top of Knowth

Walking on top of Knowth

Once I access the pics Kris took of Knowth, I will post them. Knowth is the largest chamber and covers almost an acre.

Once I access the pics Kris took of Knowth, I will post them. Knowth is the largest chamber and covers almost an acre.

Newgrange. More popular because one is able to enter into the passageway and chamber.

Newgrange. More popular because one is able to enter into the passageway and chamber.

The entrance to the chamber. See the light box above door?

The entrance to the chamber. See the roof box above door? This is where the light enters on the Winter Solstice.

The view looking away from Newgrange. The little specks in the distance are sheep.

The view looking away from Newgrange. The little specks in the distance are sheep.

Another view from the passage tomb of Newgrange.

Another view from the passage tomb of Newgrange.

Thatched roof house around the bend when we left the Boyne Valley that afternoon heading towards Dublin.

Thatched roof house around the bend when we left the Boyne Valley that afternoon heading towards Dublin.

So, ladies and gentlemen- have you had enough of Ireland yet? If so, skip the next post because it will be the last leg of our Irish tour where we ended in Dublin. As soon as possible when Kris and I return home we plan on downloading all of the pictures from all of the devices and posting a visual salad of pictures not previously posted yet but that will be a couple of weeks.

So until the Dublin post, have a great day!

Karen