Thursday, August 17, 2006


Yesterday I came by bus from Derry to Dublin in about four and a half hours. We had a really courteous Ulsterbus driver who even helped put the luggage on board. We had to produce identification just over the border in Co Monaghan, though there had been no check going across from Donegal to Derry the other day. There have been a few recent fire bombings sadly in the border region, so I guess that is the reason they were being careful.
It was raining for quite a bit of the journey and quite a bit of the rest of the day in Dublin, so it put a damper on more exploring. I was a bit late to get back to the museum though and have probably missed really good archaeological stuff, but you can't do everything.

This morning I was booked to go on Mary Gibbons tour to Newgrange which I was really looking forward to. But I had a bit of excitement before I got away. I was supposed to be picked up from the top-end Merrion hotel. (One night there would cost as much as it costs me for two weeks or more in a hostel I gather!) I waited but nobody arrived. Then the hotel concierge came out as Mary Gibbons was on the phone for me. I had been forgotten. (Not something normal I gather.) But she arranged for the hotel doorman to hail a taxi for me that she would pay for, and I was delivered to the bus and the rest of the tour group. I don't usually travel from swanky hotels in taxis hailed by a doorman and paid for by somebody else!

The tour was excellent and Mary was a wonderful source of knowledge. We first stopped at the Hill of Tara where the Irish kings were based. There are lots of mounds and funny bits of ground to look at, but no remnants of any buildings. But we got a wonderful view out in all directions over the countryside, even though the weather was cloudy. (But no rain!!!) My surname means 'royal bard' so I felt as if I belonged on the site from way back.

At Newgrange we were booked onto the tour through the visitor centre ( the only way you can get on the site). Our guide was excellent. She gave us a brief rundown on the site outside and then we got to go inside the passage grave itself. The mound is huge and the passage is very long. Inside she turned off all the lights and we were able to see a demonstration of how the light comes into the far chamber for a brief period around the northern winter solstice. It was amazing to be there experiencing something from stone age times that was so precise. The stonework in the structure was impressive as well. The stones had been layered outwards so that it was still very dry in the chamber all these thousands of years later. (Newgrange is older than the pyramids.)

On the way back to Dublin we saw where the Battle of the Boyne took place and heard something of its history and ramifications. These royal battles for power had effects on people so long afterwards.

I ate out in Temple Bar and spent more than usual on the meal. Seemed to match my taxi trip of the morning. And now I am about to pack my bags for the first of my homeward flights. I leave for Paris in the morning and have a few days there. Hard to believe that I am almost leaving Europe.


  1. Taradale (Napier)is named because it reminded the 1st settler of the hills of Tara in Ireland. Our Tara the dog is also named after them - hope you took a pic for us!

  2. It wasn't a very clear day but I did take two photos. I took one of Shannon River in Limerick, a few on Croagh Patrick, and two on Tara Hill. Plus sent you a Wetport postcard. That should cover it!