Mom and the Girls' Trip to Ireland - 2016

Beyond the Pale



May 22

We started our day leaving the Bothar Alainn B&B at 10:15 a.m. in order to get to Mass at St. Patrick's Church in Slane by 11:00. It was the Trinity Sunday Mass, which is sort of neat when you think about the significance of Slane (the site of the hill where St. Patrick lit the fire on Easter Sunday, which got him hauled before King Laoghaire to explain himself and -- at least legend says -- he used the shamrock to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity.)

St. Patrick's Church, Slane

St. Patrick's Church in Slane

inside St Patrick's Church in Slane

Inside St Patrick's Church in Slane

The service was very nice, especially the music. I couldn't distinguish the words of the songs but I recognized the first hymn ("Be Still") as one sung at St. James Church in Washington, IA, on Mother's Day when Mom and I attended. I took it as a sign that Uncle Mike is with us. There have been other signs -- particularly the weather. Today and yesterday were forecast to be rainy (70 to 80% chance of rain, and even thunderstorms.) And it did rain both days -- we even had a thunderstorm, which Josephine at our B&B in Navan said they "never" have. But we never got caught in the rain. Only sprinkles. Each day brought a couple of heavy downpours and even lightning and hail once or twice, but never while we were out in it.

Altarboys and priest at St. Patrick's in Slane

Altarboys and priest
at St. Patrick's in Slane

I attribute this to Uncle Mike because I had said a prayer, asking him to help me be calm about the trip -- to take over my worries about being safe while driving, to help us deal with the uncertainty of the weather spoiling our views and enjoyment of places like Newgrange and Tara, and to connect us with the Irish people. I prayed that prayer in Washington, IA, and again at the Mass at St. Patrick's in Urbana, IL, on Pentecost Sunday, when the gospel told of Jesus’s promise that “I am with you all the days.” Thus, I concluded that God’s (and Uncle Mike’s) answer was that I should just be still and trust that they are with me.

After Mass, we drove from the church in Slane to the top of the Hill of Slane. It was an extraordinary view because of the dark clouds, partial sunlight and brilliant gold fields of rape blooming on the distance hillsides. Trinity Sunday is a day of the traditional blessing of the graves, and many people were coming and going, cleaning up gravesites and adding fresh flowers. 

View from the Hill of Slane

Sunday morning - View from the Hill of Slane

Tara as seen from Slane

The red arrow points to the Hill of Tara, as seen from the Hill of Slane

Sign at the Hill of Tara, explaining its connection with St. Patrick

Sign at the Hill of Tara, explaining its connection with St. Patrick

Hill of Slane

Ruins and cemetery at the Hill of Slane

From the Hill of Slane we could view the Hill of Tara in the distance, though we had to ask a local to be sure that we were looking at the right dot on the horizon. After several photographs, we got back in the car and made a side trip to Monasterboice (and it rained on us on the way there, but again it stopped when we got out of the car.) By this time, I had told everyone that I had put Uncle Mike in charge of the weather and we did not need to worry about it anymore. They were all pretty much believers after our incredible day yesterday at Knowth and Newgrange. We were all prepared to drape our raincoats over Mother if we got caught in a shower out on the hills, but it just didn't happen. The rain (and hail) came only after we were in the pub.

Monasterboice is a site of an ancient monastery, founded in the 10th century. No buildings remain from that time, but three high crosses and a round tower survive. The crosses are referred to as the "Scripture Crosses" because the figures on them depict stories from the scriptures. Muirdach's Cross is perhaps the finest one we've seen -- the carvings are not as eroded as those on other crosses, and it is amazing to think that it is more than 1100 years old. The Tall Cross at Monasterboice, at nearly 7 meters high, is the tallest one in Ireland.

Martha with the Tall Cross at Monasterboice

Martha stands beside the 7-meter Tall Cross (also known as the West Cross) at Monasterboice

Muirdedach's Cross at Monasterboice

Muirdedach's Cross at Monasterboice

Marker at Monasterboice names whole family

Stone at Monasterboice - the inscription reads "Erected by Thomas Gregory of New York in memory of his father Francis who died 1823 aged 62 years. Also in memory of his mother Margaret who died in New York aged 63 yrs interred in St. Patrick’s Mott St. Also in memory of his Brother John aged 33 yrs and his Brother Matthew aged 28 yrs who died in New Orleans, State of Louisiana. Also his Brother Columb who died on the coast of Africa. Aged 25 years. Also his Brother Peter who died in the West Indies aged 30 yrs. Also his Sister Bridget who died in New York aged 45 yrs. And his Brother Patrick, aged 23. And his Sister Anne aged 68. Both interred in Mornington Burial Ground Colp Parish."

Plaque in the cemetery at Monasterboice

Plaque in the cemetery at Monasterboice

From Monasterboice, we headed toward the Hill of Tara (we saved it for the last because it was closer to Dublin.)

Next stop: Tara. Click here to continue reading.

Other stuff and 2023 trip

This page was last edited on 09-Apr-2023

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