Mom and the Girls' Trip to Ireland - 2016

Beyond the Pale


Bru na Boinne

May 21

Today we had another "light" breakfast of cereal, toast and coffee and got the gang in the car by 9:45 a.m., heading toward the neolithic site of Newgrange. Our hostess, Josephine, recommended that we get there by 10:00 a.m. to be assured of getting admission. As we left the house, the weather did not look promising, and it began raining on us. But when we pulled in the car park and started unloading, the rain stopped. Then the sun came out, and we had cooperative weather until about 4 or 5 in the afternoon. It was a big help, because the sites we wanted to see are accessible only with special shuttle buses from the visitors' center, which drop you off and leave you in the hands of a tour guide for about an hour or so at each place -- and there is absolutely no shelter at either of the mound sites.

None of that mattered, as it turned out, because the rain came only briefly while we sat on the bus, and otherwise, we had more sunny spells than clouds.

Roberta at the River Boyne

Roberta, at the River Boyne

The tour was very interesting -- explaining how prehistoric cultures built and used the passage tombs, of which there are more than 90 scattered across the valley. Most are not as big as the well known sites of Knowth, Dowth and Newgrange. Like Stonehenge, the building materials were transported from a long distance without benefit of a draft animal or wheels.

We signed up to visit both Knowth and Newgrange, and we were permitted to go inside each of these, as well as climb on top of Knowth. Mom joined the group going inside the passage tomb of Knowth but opted not to climb the stairs and navigate the passage in Newgrange. While we were inside it, they simulated the sunbeam of the winter solstice, using electrical lights to cast a beam slowly up the passageway to fall upon the basin stone in the center of the mound. It was really cool!

Excavation of Knowth

Photo in the Visitor's Center, showing the excavation of Knowth

Mounds at Knowth

Some of the smaller mounds at Knowth

View from Knowth

Roberta at Knowth

Boyne Valley viewed from Knowth

The Boyne Valley viewed from Knowth

the large mound at Knowth

The large mound at Knowth - its entrances are aligned with the equinox, allowing sunlight to penetrate
the passages for a few hours at the beginning of spring and fall.

Martha and Roberta, at the entrance to Knowth

Martha and Robera, at the entrance to Knowth. The stone pylon behind them was used to measure the movement of the sun. When its shadow fell directly across a vertical line on the large stone at the entrance, it was precisely the time of the equinox.

Inside Knowth

Inside one of the central passages of Knowth


Newgrange - its entrance is aligned with the winter solstice

Molly, Martha, Annis and Roberta at Newgrange

Molly, Martha, Annis and Roberta at Newgrange

Megalithic art at Newgrange

Megalithic art on one of the kerbstones at Newgrange (5,000+ years old)

Between the two tours, we had just enough time for a bite to eat in the visitors' center, and afterward we were contented with making a few small purchases at the gift shop. 

Next stop: Slane. Click here to continue reading.


Other stuff and 2023 trip

This page was last edited on 09-Apr-2023

back to the top