Sunday, September 18, 2016

Days 5, 6 and 7: Dublin, Newgrange and Home

After we said our goodbye's to Liam, we got to our rooms and dumped our incredibly heavy bags. We then headed downstairs to the Vat Bar in the Blooms Hotel, Temple Bar district. We had dinner there, but it took forever to get our food. After sitting all day in the coach, then sitting for two hours to eat, my badly swollen feet, ankles and legs were killing me. We needed a walk.

I had trouble the entire trip with internet service. It appears only my phone had a problem, so I plan to get a new one very shortly! Once I got help from the Reception Desk woman logging in, I finally received my email from Mary Gibbons Tours with instructions on where to meet the coach. I planned to take her tour to the Hill of Tara and Newgrange the following day. After relaxing now that I had my information, we all went out to see Dublin by night. We walked in the direction of my destination the next day, and I quickly realized we were staying right down the street from a pub Larry and I visited on our trip two years prior! I couldn't wait to tell Larry, but of course, I couldn't without internet access.

We walked to the AIB Bank on O'Connell Street across the River Liffy. Along the way, we stopped at Carroll's souvenir shop and bought the first of our gifts to take home. After we found the bank, we headed back to the hotel. We were all exhausted.

Entry to Hill of Tara
Mound of Hostages
The next morning, I got ready to leave for my tour. Everyone else wanted to stay in Dublin. Neither Billy nor Cindy had ever been, and I encouraged them to see the city and take the Guinness factory tour. They loved it, bought lots of souvenirs and walked their feet off. Billy escorted me to AIB Bank and saw me on the coach.

Stone of Destiny
Famine Victim Mass Grave
I had a lovely quiet day, not communing with anybody else on the tour. I just enjoyed the ride and nature when we reached our first destination: Hill of Tara. This hill is where the Kings of Ireland claimed their crowns, if they had one. To demonstrate that a man was worthy to be king, he had to drive his chariot as fast as in a race to the very phallic-looking "Stone of Destiny". Once he reached the stone, he had to swerve quickly so the wheel scraped the stone and made it scream. If the stone screamed, he was worthy to be king. The stone had been moved from its original location by the farmer who owned the land because it was in his way. He moved it to "the mound of hostages". There are two large circle mounds next to one another. Close by is another mass grave of famine victims, marked with a Celtic Cross surrounded by a fence. The hill had a lovely view of the surrounding area, and it was very meditative to walk around there.

Next we headed to Newgrange. This 5,000+ year-old structure was built by stone-age farmers. Those farmers carried huge boulders twenty kilometers on their little boats down the River Boyne and other waterways to then be rolled up hill on logs. the sides of the huge grassy mound was also covered in white quartz from seventy kilometers away and granite stones from fifty kilometers away. The thought of this amazing feat again boggled my mind.

Light box
We waited our turn to go inside, and were instructed to be very careful exiting as we were very likely to bump our heads on the cap stone. Those old farmers were much smaller than we are. Both sides of my body touched the huge standing stones that formed the passage walls as we walked to the cavernous end of the tunnel. The ceiling looked to me to be twenty to thirty feet high. The architecture of the layers of stone and stone "shims" was really impressive. There were three bays in the cavern that must have been dedicated to certain ceremonies. Once such bay had a large indented stone bowl. Hieroglyphics were everywhere. On the wall stone of one bay was the logo of Newgrange, a three-circled spiral set. I bought a pin of it, but when I saw it in person, I closed my eyes and rubbed my hand over it lovingly and respectfully. I thanked the farmers for creating this masterpiece that modern humans could experience and enjoy.

Our guide, after confirming nobody was claustrophobic or afraid of the dark, turned out all the lights and it was completely black. Slowly, she turned on light that meant to demonstrate how light entered the cavern down the passageway from the lightbox above the entrance on the Winter Solstice. It was just amazing.

We learned all about the Boyne Valley during our drive and visit, and our guide invited us to imagine what the landscape must have been like five thousand years ago. It was a very interesting and informative trip, and I was glad I went.

The Pub
Billy texted me he was waiting for me at the bus stop, and walked me home. He was so sweet. We stopped for a pint in that pub Larry and I visited, and listened to fun music for a little while before meeting Jeanne and Cindy for dinner.

Elaine O'Neill
From our Clan DNA test, we found yet another new cousin, Elaine O'Neill, who lives in a suburb of Dublin. We made a date to meet her at our hotel Tuesday night for drinks. She drove and parked her car two miles out and took a bus to meet us. She arrived at the bar and we kissed and hugged. We got a booth and shared histories. She had been researching on for thirty years! She was a wealth of information. We shared what we each had, and contact information. After a couple of hours, she joined us while we ate supper. We took pictures and then it was time to say goodbye.

Like Breada, Elaine had tears in her eyes when we parted. She was so sweet. Billy escorted her to the taxi stand, and knocked on the driver's window after getting her settled in the back seat. "You take care of my new auntie, now, you hear me?" Elaine laughed in the back seat, then they drove away.

Jeanne and Cindy settled down for the night in our rooms, but Billy and I weren't tired yet. So, we stayed in the bar for a while, shared a whiskey tasting, then had one more for a nightcap while we listened to a man sing ditties and play guitar.

The next morning, we checked out again at noon, after our very last full Irish breakfast. We dragged our extremely heavy bags a couple blocks to the taxi stand and secured a wagon to haul us all and our bags to the airport.

We were very sad to leave our newly found roots in Ireland, but so happy to have found them at last. See you in three years, Ireland! Thanks for the memories. With Love, the New England Crowleys.

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