Ireland day 0012. Sunday 10 October 2021- Loughcrew

Ireland day 0012. Sunday 10 October 2021- Loughcrew
Today’s summary Climbed up our first hill to visit the Loughcrew burial site then drove down to Kells (of Book Of fame) and inspected the five Celtic crosses
Today’s weather Dry and bright with sunny intervals all day.   Light wind.   About 15C
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Today’s overview location
(the red cross in a circle shows where Val and I are at the moment)
Close-up location
(Click button below to download gpx file of our walk)

Well the good news from Ardcath today is that my socks are almost dry.   Another couple of days on the airer and I may at last have clean footwear again.   Celebrating this significant step forward with a healthy slice of cake for breakfast, I was alarmed to discover that I was about to swallow what I thought was a bone.   Rescued from the clutches of digestion in the nick of time, I discovered that it was in fact a ring.   I should have suspected as much after reading the cake label which said “contains a ring” but at the time I had just assumed it was some sort of edible Irish delicacy.   Anyway it certainly brightened up the cake a bit, as it was Aldi’s cheapest and tasted a bit like it was made of Plaster of Paris.  And I suppose if you are thinking of getting married and need an emergency ring, it could also be a practical and considerably cheaper alternative to a trip to the jewellers.

(By the way the reason why it had a ring was because it was a Barmbrath cake and it’s an old Irish tradition to secrete charms in these cakes at Halloween)

The next step in our travels today was a visit to yet another Neolithic site – the fourth such site we have been to in the Boyne Valley since we arrived.  Today’s destination was the Loughcrew burial site.   Loughcrew is about 30 miles / 50km west of here, so heading well into the Irish hinterland.   It’s a series of three hills, each sporting a collection of Neolithic passage tombs (like the one at Newgrange), some 4500 years old.   We were fortunate with the weather, and the view from the top of the highest hill (Slieve na Calliagh) at 276m / 800ft was impressive.   It was the first “real” hill we had climbed in Ireland and it felt good to be up high, drinking in the fresh air.

Sadly “Cairn T” – the biggest tomb – was closed for repairs but a chance encounter with a couple of would-be druids who were up there mushroom hunting (and I don’t think they were research mycologists) certainly enlivened our visit.   We were treated to a lengthy discourse on the trials and tribulations of Queen Maeve, and were privileged to be allowed to inspect the magic crystal which one of them was proudly carrying.   We were also told that this hill was in fact an energy vortex and although I couldn’t detect it myself, I did rather wish that our tumble drier could also be be imbued some of this magical energy.

Druids and Neolithic remains dispensed with, we hot-footed it over to nearby  Kells.   The town is most well know for for its Book – an illustrated manuscript of the Gospels transcribed by the Columban monks who had established a monastery there in the 850’s.  The Book itself is now in Trinity College Library in Dublin, and the monastery is long gone, but five of its famous Celtic crosses remain and can be spotted around the town.   The monks themselves seem to had a pretty tough time of things, having settled in Kells after having being routed from their original settlement on the island of Iona by Vikings, only for Kells itself to be invaded by the same Vikings three times shortly after they arrived.   It really is just like Game of Thrones” here.

Well, that’s it for now.   A more routine day is in order tomorrow, as we catch up with chores and wait to see if the estate agent calls back with any news on possible longer term lets on properties in Malahide.

Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

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Traditional barnbrack loaf for breakfast.  Complete with ring. “Cairn T” at Loughcrew.   
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Inspecting the Neolithic ruins Mushrooms – or so we were told by the man with the crystals
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Says it all really The town hall in Kells
The most complete, and oldest, of the five Celtic crosses in Kells.   Sited in the ruins of the old Columban monastery and probably carved about 850AD.   The round tower was built about 100 years later and is incomplete because the monks refused to pay the stonemason the agreed price.   Nevertheless, it’s an impressive erection, especially considering that it’s 1,000 years old
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