Ireland - Day 5 - The Boyne Valley
This was the day I was most excited about - an organized bus tour to ancient Celtic sites. Ok, so I'm not thrilled about the organized tour part, but the sites are tricky to get to, and frequently overrun with tourists in the summer months, so I begrudgingly booked a tour with Mary Gibbons. First stop is the Hill of Tara, alleged seat of power for ancient Ireland, though the exact significance of the site is somewhat disputed. Personally, I don't much care what the true story turns out to be, as the Hill of Tara seems obviously powerful and strongly connected to nature in that wonderful Druid-y way.
Also, fun fact from tour, Margaret Mitchell's parents (or grandparents?) were Irish and the plantation in Gone with the Wind is called Tara after The Hill of Tara.
Next stop was Newgrange, an ancient burial tomb, older than the pyramids and Stonehenge (they're particularly fond of reminding visitors of this fact). The tomb is set up so that the light box catches the first rays of sun at sunrise on the winter solstice, and illuminates the chamber. Of course, we entered the lottery to be able to be in the chamber on the next solstice (conveniently also Mom's birthday).
Walking in to the tomb was amazing - I love the idea that I was rubbing up against stone that human hands touched thousands and thousands of years ago. Ok, so lots of other humans have also touched the stone between now and then, but nevertheless.
More fun facts from the tour - we have the Celts to thank for the term 'honeymoon' - Celtic couples were encouraged to drink mead (made from honey and fermented apples) for fertility and vitality until the first moon following their wedding.
Both the Hill of Tara and Newgrange are located in the Boyne Valley, near the Boyne River
site of the Battle of the Boyne, between England and Ireland (who else?) in 1690.
And lastly, how cute are we?