So, Max and I, along with the hundred or so other partying wedding guests, woke up fairly hungover on Friday. Breakfast was only served until 10:00 a.m., but we managed to crawl out of bed and make it down there at about 9:45 a.m. There was a lovely continental buffet set out, and a long line of people waiting for orange juice, apple juice, and ice water - guess everyone was as parched and dehydrated as I was. Castle bathroom tap water, for the record, is not very good tasting...
The breakfast was not so great either. It was the usual Full Irish, but the ham was very fatty and bland, and the tomato was squishy. I forgot to bring my camera down, so I don't have any pics, but it's probably all for the best.
I felt much better after some coffee and a hot shower. And then slightly worse after catching an episode of Two & Half Men on tv. Why is that show on? Anyway, we packed up our bags, checked out of the castle (bye castle!) and headed over to Newgrange and Knowth.
I think that Newgrange
are probably the two most significant places we went to in Ireland. And possibly in my whole life. They are these tombs (so much for not playing in cemetaries), sort of like pyramids, built at around 3200 B.C. , 500 years before the Great Pyramid. That's just incredible. You should definitely click on the links I inserted to read more about them, especially the stuff about the winter solstice, and the alignment of the passageways. It's just fascinating. We went to Knowth first. It's the huge mound you see in the pics. The smaller mounds around it are satellite tombs that were built later. You're not allowed to go very far inside Knowth unfortunately, but it was very cool to be in something that had been built 5000 years ago. The tour only allows for you to go the main chamber area where it splits into different passages. The rest of Knowth is closed off.
Knowth. It's surrounded by these gigantic rocks right under the mound top called kerbstones, which have all sorts of art work and carving on them. Most of the carvings are of big spirals - no one really knows what they mean. The kerbstones are from an area about 15 miles away, so the Neolithic people had to drag them all the way to here.
"Woodhenge" - While the actual pieces of wood are a new, archeologists are fairly certain that this is what it would have looked like. This was some kind of sacred circle and they found evidence of cremated animals and stuff within. Knowth predates Stonehenge by about 1000 years I think.
Inside Knowth - you can see that we really couldn't get very far in and it was very tight and narrow inside.
One of the satellite mounds. There are all these little entrances to paths that were used as escape routes from invading armies.
Kerbstones. You can make out the spirals and carvings.
View from the top of the mound.
I normally don't wear stickers - these marked which tours we were on.
After visitng Knowth we took a bus to see Newgrange. Newgrange is another one of these gigantic tombs. The rock wall you see was not actually intact when the archaeologists excavated it. Some professor analyzed the pattern of the piles of rocks and recreated it. He would build it and then crash it down again to see if it matched. The white stones are quartz, also hauled from somewhere far away. Quartz is associated with the sun, and Newgrange is very sun-oriented. Click on links to read about the light coming in on the day of winter solstice - it's really fascinating. On the day of the winter solstice, as the sun rises, the beams of light enter through this roof door above the main entrance and actually lights up the inside of Newgrange. Made me think of Indiana Jones. Anyway, obviously it shows that the people who built Newgrange were really incredibly smart and studied astronomy. Also, in 5000 years, there's never been a drop of water that's gotten through the roof. So they were amazing architects as well - the roof is built in a way that did not require mortar or anything to seal it - it's just all about the placement of gigantic slabs of rock. They do allow people in every year to witness this winter solstice phenomenon, but currently there is a nine year wait.
Another shot of Newgrange
Entrance to Newgrange.
Another view of the entrance. You can see the "sun roof" surrounded by quartz above the main entrance.
The main kerbstone in front of Newgrange.
We weren't allowed to take pics inside. Again, we didn't get very far in, just to the main chamber, which was tiny - only fit about 12 people. Insidey the recreated the whole winter solstice thing, which was cool. There was also one of the big stone basins they talked about on wiki.
So after Newgrange, we drove to Carlingford, which is this small medieval village on the east coast of Ireland. It's on a little peninsula and most of the wedding party guests were staying there for the night as well. The place was adorable!
First, we found our B&B, which was so cute. It was run by this older Irish husband and wife couple who were so nice and hospitable. I would have taken a pic of them - they were so cute, but I thought the request would seem strange. Here are pics of our B&B:
View from the front of the house.
Our room, a little too pink for my taste, and way too pink for Max's, but it was very comfortable.
View from our bedroom. You can see mountains in the distance.
So, after we checked in and tidied up, we headed towards the town area for dinner.
On our way to the village - this place was so beautiful!
Medieval entrance to town.
Other side of the entrance.
In the corner of the entrance,there was this tiny little hole that used to be the town jail!
We had dinner at a place called Oyster Catcher. The food was so good I forgot to take pics. I had a nice steak and Max had the tempura cod with mashed peas. Both were quite tasty!
We had some time to kill after dinner. Pete and Niamh and the wedding party hadn't gotten back into town yet, so we walked back and rested at the house. Carlingford really was amazingly beautiful.
We finally met up with everyone at this little pub in town.
As usual, the pub closed at around midnight and we were pretty ready to crash, after yet another long day!