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August 6th 2008
Published: August 6th 2008
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We arrived in Newgrange yesterday evening around 7pm at the Newgrange Lodge where we would stay for one night so we could visit…. You guessed it….Newgrange!! The lodge is a budget accommodation hostel and is only 1 minute walk from the Newgrange visitor centre. Our room was small but perfect for anyone checking in at 7pm and checking out the next morning at 9am. Breakfast was continental and we made sure we had enough to set us up for our long day.

The previous day had been nice and sunny and we passed through towns such as Longford, Mullingar, and Navan on route from Ballina. I had never really been through Co. Meath and was surprised at how scenic it was. The roads were small and windy and lined with big trees or 7ft walls from times when perhaps royal people lived here. That evening we went to the small village of Dunroe and ate in a fine restaurant called Daly’s. I had deep fried brie and beef fajitas while Michelle had Scampi. After a nice meal there we headed towards Slane for a few photos. Myself and Michelle came to the agreement that I could ask her to stand in one photo a day as she does not like to be photographed or maybe I take to many, but either way, now I’m going to have to choose wisely.

When we got up this morning it was lashing rain but we weren’t going to let that stop us. We checked out by 9am and made the small journey down to the visitors centre. Here we sat in the car realising we had nothing to protect us from the rain. Tourist after tourist got out of their cars with the best of rain gear and umbrellas, while all we had was a jacket found at the bottom of the boot (don’t know who it belongs too!) and a gammy umbrella ready to turn inside out with the slightest gush of air. We also realised that the Irish never prepare for the rain and it rains nearly every second day. Also it has now rained solid for the last three summers. Could it please STOP! Still persistent we soldiered on and got our tickets to bring us on the bus to Newgrange. Priced at €5.80 each we felt it was very reasonable. For some reason we expected more but why wouldn’t we in this country!

Soon we were on the 9:30 bus to Newgrange where we meet our tour guide Eleanor who informed us that basically nobody has a balls notion what the site was really used for and that if we had any suggestion we should air them. She didn’t say it in those exact words but that’s what I took from it! Eleanor though was a very good guide and humorous at times. She did fill us in on all the history of the “Neolithic Tomb” and explained the winter solstice to us. In the tomb were many carvings dating over 5000 years ago (that’s 3000BC) and also some recent ones from a “JP Naylor 1884”! To see the winter solstice (21st December) you must register your name and it is picked on a lottery basis. The light shining through the tomb last for 17 minutes and lights up the whole chamber. What surprised me was that the mound takes up nearly an acre in size yet the passage way is only approximately 15-20metres long with a small chamber at the end with a roof about 10 metres high. Here they found the remains of only 5 bodies from bone ash. The tomb though had been unearthed 300 years ago but remained unprotected from anyone for 200 of those years until the Irish government bought it so it is unclear what was actually taken from the tomb. After a quick walk around the tomb we headed back to our bus. A little bit wet we arrived back at the visitor centre and had a good look around at the models and artefacts from the tombs.

With a long journey ahead of us we didn’t waste time and hit the road for Cushendall Co. Antrim. A quick stop off in Dundalk for a good umbrella and rain jacket and we were back on route. We arrived at our hostel accommodation a few miles outside Cushendall, shortly before 4pm. The hostel is an old barn converted and is quite picturesque. After a quick change of clothes we were on our way again this time in pursuit of food. Harry’s restaurant in the village was recommended to us and it didn’t fail. I had “Harry’s burger” which was at least a ½ pounder and Michelle had cod, mushy peas and mash. As it was still raining we decided to take a spin and see the sights. Antrim is very picturesque with lots of glens and mountains. We drove along the coast following any kind of signpost that said scenic or costal route. The area looked brilliant and I’m sure on a clear day it looks 100 times better. Apparently you can see Scotland on a clear day! A few times I braved the wet weather in hope of a good picture but it wasn’t to be. Low lying clouds and heavy fog would ensure this.

From an Irish point of view we did pass through a town who was having an “Orange” festival. It was full of orange and British flags. We found this amusing as the town we were staying near had its fair share of Irish tri-colours on display. There was a food and music festival on in the village tonight but the rain meant it was a wash out. Some people did put up a brave attempt but I’m sure there would have been more if it didn’t rain. Also there was a busking competition which I’m sure would have been good craic.
At the moment Michelle is reading and nearly finished her book so its time for me to finish up. At the moment it’s p***ing out of the heavens. I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow because everything we want to do is outdoors. Although it wont stop us, it could put a damper on things.

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