Ireland day 0181. Monday 28 March 2022- Wicklow+1

Ireland day 0181. Monday 28 March 2022- Wicklow+1
Today’s summary Drove up the M1 for a visit to the Brú na Bóinne neolithic site on the Boyne Valley
Today’s weather Another sparkling spring day.   Dry, sunny and warm.   No wind.   About 15C
Today’s overview location
(The blue mark shows our location)
Close-up location
(The red line shows where we drove)
(No GPX today)

Unsurprisingly I tested positive again this morning.   In fact it was the strongest pink T line I’ve had since I came down with the virus.   But it’s ten days now, and from all the reading I’ve done, you are almost certain to be non-infectious by this stage.   Although most people will test negative by day 10, the positive tests can go on “for weeks or even months”.   So that’s something to look forward to.   Anyway, I am going to stop reporting my pink line progress now, as I am sure readers don’t really want a blow by blow account of my medical status.

Anyway, now that we are all more or less firing on all cylinders (although Pete is still feeling weary – but he started several days after Bev and me), we decided to jump into the car and strike out a bit further afield.   We were all keen to visit the Newgrange site in the Boyne Valley – so we headed up the M1 and were there surprisingly just thirty five minutes after leaving the flat.

Although Val and I had been to the Brú na Bóinne site back in October last year, we wanted to go back because last time the main passage tomb at Newgrange was closed to the public.   We had heard that it had reopened that Covid restrictions are slowly being removed.   The main disadvantage of visiting now though, as opposed to last October, is that as a result of the post-Covid opening up of Ireland, the visitors are starting to flood back in.   So whereas last time we had the place to ourselves and were treated like royalty, this time we were just faces in a crowd and it felt very much more like we were being processed through a visitor experience.

Nevertheless, it was an extremely interesting trip and despite it being not long since we were last there, there still seemed to be plenty new to learn.   For one thing, the weather was absolutely stunning so we saw the monuments at their very best.   It was a relief at least to be able to get out and enjoy the sunshine, even if we weren’t actually out and about finishing off the Wicklow Way, as we were supposed to be.   I really don’t think the weather could actually have been better in any way at all.   Blue skies, no wind, and dry.  Plus it was warm enough to go out without down jacket and hat, which was a real delight.  You never know, as the official shorts wearing season starts on 1st April, the pallid legs might even begin to get some exposure soon.

But the highlight of the visit had to be the entry into the Newgrange passage tomb itself.  You have almost to crawl through the narrow tunnel to get to the very centre of the monument, which opens out into a six meter chamber, with three small ante-chambers which were used for burials.   But once you are in the very middle, the guide turns all the illumination off and an electric lamp shining from outside the monument beams in through the “roof box” opening in the tomb wall.

It has been discovered that when seen from the floor of the central chamber, the sun rises exactly through the light box at dawn on the winter solstice – about 21 December.   The simulated effect from the external lamp is effective but it gives you a good idea of just how impressive the real thing must be in December.   Provided it isn’t cloudy of course.   You can join a ballot to get a slot to go in on 21 December – apparently 30,000 apply every year for only 20 places.   But we will definitely give it a try.

By this stage – given that we had as per our usual preference had a very leisurely start – it was already after 5pm.   So we just had a brief pause for a very belated lunch, then headed back to Malahide to reflect on the day’s proceedings.   Pete and Bev are going to treat us to dinner at the Kathmandu Kitchen so it’s time to get changed into my very finest curry dining gear.

Back tomorrow!


Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

Emerging from the Tunnel of Covid.   All four of us together again, at the Brú na Bóinne visitor centre this lunchtime The Knowth passage tomb.   Five thousand years old and very impressive but bearing an unsettling resemblance to Tellytubbyland
From the top of the Knowth passage tomb, looking down to the sinous curve of the Boyne Valley.   We are upstream from the Battle of the Boyne site at Oldbridge here, so the river is no longer tidal by this point. Val looking alluring on the top of the Knowth monument
Impressive patterns carved into the key stones which decorate the edges of both the Newgrange and (particularly) the Knowth passage tombs.  They are relatively common on Neolithic earthworks in this part of the world – on both sides of the Irish Sea – and some scholars believe they were carved by ancient stonemasons who were high on magic mushrooms Ornate entrance to the Newgrange passage tomb.   You go in through the lower opening in the wall; the upper opening is the “roof box” through which the rising sun appears only on the day of the winter solstice
Here we are – back up to (almost) full strength, about to ascend the Knowth monument
Interactive map

(No map today)

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