Posted by: mdmusingsie | August 8, 2012

Turasóir arís, cuid a dó

Today’s adventures took us towards one of the oldest sites in Ireland; older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids.  But first, off to two ruined monasteries.

The first stop on our CIE/Bus Éireann Tour was Monasterboice, a small monastery and round tower near Drogheda in County Louth.  Established by St. Buite in the 5th century, little remains of the main building but most of the 10th century tower remains except for the conical roof.  The site is now primarily a graveyard sporting several impressive Celtic crosses.  Muirdeach’s and the West Cross are quite ornate, rivaling that of Clonmacnoise.

Next was Mellifont Abbey, a much larger site not far from Monasterboice.  It was the first Cistercian site in Ireland, built in the mid twelfth century.  The bulk of the buildings lie in ruins, but the ornate walls of the Lavabo or ceremonial place of washing still stand along with the Chapter House which is the only building to retain its roof, though is currently under restoration.  Bits of glazed tiles from the church are now on display in this building which was, for a brief period, used as a pig sty.

Then we set off for the highlight, Newgrange at Brú na Bóinne.  Although I had been there before, it’s been a number of years.  It’s one of those sites that repeatedly induces admiration and awe.  A passage tomb or burial chamber it was also likely a type of religious temple.  The rising sun aligns on the Winter Solstice to the roof box above the entrance and reaches into the central chamber; a feat of engineering for a structure built in Neolithic times.  This visit reminded me of the other structures nearby of Knowth and Dowth which I have yet to visit.  Something to put on that bucket list.

Three enterprising young busking fiddlers were camped out near the entrance to the Newgrange site.  I suspect they made a goodly sum for their efforts, which were admirable – they continued to play on, even after our group had made contributions and before a fresh audience arrived.

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  1. […] back south we stopped at Boyle Abbey in County Roscommon.  Boyle is considered a daughter abbey to Mellifont which is north of Dublin, which I visited just last […]

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