Updated: Aug 20, 2019
Did you know that Ireland's washing machines also have built in dryers? I didn't know either, but boy does it make doing laundry a whole lot easier! Our morning started out with us doing some laundry and trying to figure out the machine... and deciding where to go for the day. One of my YouTube subscribers - Living History School - left a comment on one of my videos suggesting we visit New Grange. With a couple of Google searches and imputing coordinates on our GPS, we headed off north of Dublin to see this ancient, mysterious site.
As we began our ascent, we flipped through the radio for channels. For some reason, our Dacia tuned to frequencies in .05 increments. Normally in the US, radio stations go up in increments of .2, being odd numbers every time. (99.1, 99.3, 99.5, etc.) Ireland's radio stations went up as such: 99.10, 99.15, 99.20, 99.25 etc. Why am I telling you this? Well, it took ages to find a radio station. And when we did find one... they had a 90's jam party going on! Songs like Truly, Madly, Deeply by Savage Garden and Barbie Girl blared through the speakers during out two hour drive into the farmlands. On the narrow backroads we danced along to the music, while avoiding getting hit by oncoming traffic. Believe it or not, some of these country roads have grass growing down the center of them. That's how you know you're out in the boonies!
At last, we arrived at New Grange. The website said that there was construction going on at the visitor center, so admission was free, and anyone who wanted to visit the sites would have to take a shuttle bus there. No problem. We parked in the mostly empty parking lot, (we got there early, like 10:30 a.m. - definitely our recommendation for popular places), and made our way to the admissions people. They handed us two tickets, one for Knowth and one for New Grange, both sites of the same sort of history, just a few miles apart from one another. We waited in line for the shuttle bus under a vine covered pergola, a slight chill in the air, like a warm fall day. A family with hair as bright red as autumn leaves waited in front of us, cute little adventuresome kids climbing on the railing. I looked at my phone - 10:45 - we were about to make the trek to the bus stop.
Through a trail of vine covered pergolas, the herd of people trekked along together. We crossed a river twice, once over a modern style bridge with a superstructure high into the sky. It was like a mini Golden Gate Bridge, built for the guests of New Grange over a countryside river. After about ten minutes of walking and picking black berries off the brambles along the sides, we made it to the bus, an old coach bus with upholstery reminiscent of the 90's. (See where we're going with the 90's theme??) After about ten more minutes of riding with the herd, we made it to Knowth, our first stop on the tour.
At first, you look at this place and think, It's just a bunch of mounds... but it is much more than that. In the center, there is one big mound and 18 "satellite mounds" surround the main one. The center mound had a tunnel going underneath it, ends on the east and west side. At the base of this mound are stones with carvings on them called kerbstones. Knowth has 124 of them, and each one has mysterious carvings on them. Since this site is around 5,000 years old (600 years older than the Pyramids of Giza!), archeologists aren't completely sure what these carvings stand for. There are a few in particular that have theories behind their meanings, one of them being a calendar stone, mapping out the calendar year pretty accurately as we do today. Another stone was called the Lunar Stone and showed that the Neolithic people were keen of the stars and mapped out the moon cycles. There was also a standing stone on the west side of the mound that acted as a sort of sundial. In my opinion, it was pretty clear that these ancient people were pretty intelligent and may have even made friends with people from the stars. I mean, some of the stones that were there were carried over 70 miles from other places in Ireland, even the kerbstones that weighed thousands of pounds a piece. Just like the pyramids, it logically doesn't make sense. According to this article I found on Gaia TV, Knowth and New Grange are located along a Ley Line, which is like an energy meridian of Earth, a healing place where people would congregate to. This suggests that this area was a sacred site to ancient people.
Our tour guide took us around the main mound and shared information. I just couldn't stop smiling at those red head kids though! They were so cute and playful, reminding me of my childhood with my sisters and brother. The feelings I had in this place were feelings I had when I was age six. It felt so familiar here.. not sure if it came from watching those kids or what. I just felt happy, content, like the days weren't separate rather all together in one season. Autumn. The good ol' days...
At the end of the tour, the guide brought us inside of the main mound, through a hallway that was very short. Apparently the Neolithic people were smaller than modern day humans. You could look through a gate and down the hallway that went into the main chamber of the tomb, the hallway lit up with sunlight coming through from somewhere.. Austin and I climbed to the top of the mound and looked around at the surrounding country side. Patches of greens were stitched together with strands of trees, making it look like a massive green quilt knit together by an earthy grandma. The bus was boarding and we had to make a run for it to get there in time!
The next stop was the main site, New Grange. This is where the infamous triskele carving lives, one of only three in the whole world. Experts are stooped as to what it means, but it seems everyone who sees it feels it's own meaning for them. For me, it means the mind, body, and spirit coming together as one and moving forward all equal. There could be other, supernatural meanings for it, but we'll just stick to that for now! The bus unloaded us at a gate and we herded onto the lawn. This structure was massive. There was a huge mound built into the side of a hill and white and black rocks formed a wall on the front end of it. The kerbstone with the triskele sat at the entrance to this tomb, like a welcome stone to the visitors that go inside. Again, all of the stones at this place, including the kerbstones, came from mostly elsewhere in Ireland, as far as 70 miles away. Our tickets allowed us inside so the tour guide took a herd of 15 people in. The halls were narrow and short, you had to watch your head and carry anything in front of you so it wouldn't scratch the walls. At last we ended up in the center chamber, about fifteen feet tall in the center of the dome ceiling, and about as wide as the 15 of us inside this little room. Artificial lighting added a glow to the cavern as the tour guide directed our attention to the ceiling. An intricate layering system was built by the Neolithic people where they stacked flat rocks on top of one another and filled it in with some sort of earthen plaster. It hasn't leaked water in 5,000 years! There was a strict no camera policy for inside, so I can only describe to you what we saw in here.. At the very end of the room was the second of three triskele carvings known to man. The tour guide shared with us that this was indeed a sacred site because it had astronomical alignments and during the winter solstice, the sun rose through a window several meters away from the inside and lit up the room. Pretty cool if you ask me!
After hopping back on the bus and feeling pretty tired from this epic travel through time, we decided to take a drive down to the coast and hike around Howth. If you can imagine a little finger coming out from the mainland and a ball of land on the end of it - this is what Howth looked like! Eva from the other day told us we should visit Howth, and that they had great sea food. Yes, in RL we're vegan but for some reason when we travel we just love to try the popular food in that specific area! More on this later.
We parked on the Nose of Howth