We arrived on the evening of March 23rd at Dublin, picked up our rental car and stayed at a bed & breakfast close to the airport. "Breakfast" is the Irish version and definitly nothing for vegetarians or people who like to avoid fat. But it is a very solid base for spending a whole chilly Irish spring day outside.
Our first stop was Brú Na Bóinne, the Boyne Valley, where we visited the enourmos Stone Age temple of Newgrange. The temple seems to be dedicated to midwinter. In ancient times this was one of the most important days of the year as the people never knew for certain if the gods were angry and the days would for ever become shorter and shorter or if the gods had mercy and the days would become longer again. Therefore determining the shortest days was of utter importance. Newgrange consists of a huge artificial stone hill, 70 meters in diameter, with one single straight passageway leading to a little chamber. On December 21st the sun reaches its lowest point and a beam of sunlight goes right through the passage way and lightens the chamber. Tourists are lead into Newgrange in small groups and when they are in the chamber all lights are turned off and some special lighting turned on gives a vague impression of this very special annual event. Unfortunately it is not allowed to take photos and even through Google you can hardly find pictures from the inside, try Sacred Destinations for more information and some pictures.
|The outside of Newgrange. As usual the reconstruction can be criticized. Did Newgrange look like that thousands of years ago? Some say that it looks more like a cream cake with its re(?)constructed white wall.|
Leaving Newgrange we crossed the island using small and smallest roads. When we arrived in Carrick-on-Shannon we had seen a lot. Carrick-on-Shannon itself is quite touristy and many Irish spend their holiday there. In the harbour you find many of those house boats that travel river Shannon during summer time. It was in Carrick-on-Shannon where we first experienced the huge servings in restaurants; this evening and most of the following we ordered one dish for the two of us and it was plenty.
First stop next morning was the remarkable Lough Key Forrest Park.
|If you love trees you will love this park!|
|What is this? Have a guess!|
|Let’s look inside: It is a single (!) Thuja (!), one of those "bushes" you know from your neighbour’s hedge.|
|This tree is a giant playground! Definitely one of the most impressive trees I’ve seen.|
|We spent the next night in Sligo. I read that during salmon season you can catch them with your bare hands. This weir is actually a device to capture salmon.|
|We continued westward. There is a lot of decay to be seen in Ireland but what how charming decay can be …|
© Volker Umpfenbach