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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Ireland, Day 1

**It took me over a day to write this post.  Guess I'm not as into the swing of things as I thought!**

It's Monday and we are officially back into the swing of things after our trip to Ireland!  Dan's at work, the kids are at school and I have spent the last two days doing mounds of laundry and just completed a pricey trip to the grocery store.

I'm going to spend the next several days documenting our trip here on the blog.  If you are interested in a lot of pictures of Ireland, then this is the place to be this week. (And based on the amount of time it's taken me to write this one post, maybe some of  next week too!)

We started our trip on Wednesday, March 23rd.  Our flight from Greensboro, NC  to Washington, DC was at 2:25.  Greensboro is a great little airport.  Parking is a breeze, there are never any lines, and you never feel rushed.  Wednesday was no exception.  Our flight was on time and we made it to DC by 4:00.

We had 2 and a half hours until our next flight so we waited at a restaurant and split a couple of appetizers.  After we ate, we headed to our gate and were excited to see our plane:

The plan left right on time at 6:20 PM and was scheduled to arrive in Dublin at 5:30 AM.  But we had great tail winds and actually arrived at 4:30 AM. Which was not such a wonderful thing because we literally only got about 2 hours of sleep on the plane. I'm actually not even sure we got that much.

Tired but excited!

Since it was only 4:30 AM when we arrived and it was dark and rainy, we got breakfast in the airport.  Peter was hot and bothered to try blood sausage but he was not impressed.

Not so good, eh? We tried to warn him!
After several cups of coffee, we picked up our rental car.  We ordered a compact, manual, 4 door.  Dan was stressed about our luggage fitting into it and when we the person at the desk saw the size of our bags, she said, "You're going to need a bigger car!"  So we upgraded to a mid-sized, automatic, 4 door for only $7 a day more.  It was totally worth it.

Dan is pretty cheap and was trying to save money with a manual but with all the driving we did, the automatic was worth it.  And even though they called it mid-sized, it seemed more like a compact to me.

One note about the cars in Ireland.  When you stop at a stop light, they shut off!  And when you are ready to go, you press the gas and then they start back up again.  It was very annoying but I guess they do it to keep pollution down?

Anyway, we got our car and headed out.  After another stop for coffee (did I mention we only had 2 hours of sleep?) we went to the Monasterboice Round Tower just north of Drogheda.  Monasterboice is  the site of a monastery that was built sometime in the 6th century.  The round  tower  was built sometime in the 10th century and was used to protect Ireland from Vikings.

Also located here are three high crosses.  Dan's favorite in all of Ireland is St. Muirdeach's Cross.  This cross is known as the finest example of a High Cross in Ireland.  It dates back to roughly 900AD. (We also have one hanging on our wall at home...told you it was Dan's favorite!)

After leaving Monasterboice we headed to Slane Hill.  According to lore, this is where St. Patrick lit the Pascal fire in 433 AD in defiance of the pagan High King Logaire who forbid any other fires while a festival fire was burning on the Hill of Tara.  King Logaire was so impressed by Patrick's devotion that, despite his defiance (or perhaps because of it), he let him continue his missionary work in Ireland.

The ruins behind us are Slane Abbey

Our next stop was the 5,000 year old Neolithic tomb at Newgrange.  Newgrange is located in County Meath just north of the River Boyne. Let that sink in...5,000 years old! 

The site consists of a large circular mound with a stone passageway and interior chambers. The mound has a retaining wall at the front and is ringed by engraved kerbstones. There is no agreement about what the site was used for, but it has been speculated that it had religious significance – it is aligned with the rising sun and its light floods the chamber on the winter solstice.

This is at the entrance to the tomb.

This is not my image. The picture I took below doesn't properly show the  outside of the tomb/mound.  The tiny small burial chamber is built inside this giant mound.

After touring Newgrange, we headed to Warrenpoint where we had lunch. Near Warrenpoint is Rostrevor and this is the location of Kilbroney Graveyard.  (If you love old graveyards, Ireland is the place to be!)  This graveyard is located on the site of  St. Bronagh's Convent.  St. Bronagh's Cross, seen below with Peter, as well as the convent,  date back to the 5th century. St. Bronagh was one of a few female followers of St. Patrick.

Peter and Dan are in their happy ancient graveyard!

Ireland's tallest man, Patrick Murphy - 7 feet 3.4 inches (222 cm, is buried here.  We tried to find the gravestone but Dan couldn't remember where it was.  Peter was a little disappointed about that.

After visiting this graveyard, we headed to Kilkeel. Kilkeel is the site of  my husband's company in Ireland.  We visited the company so that the kids could see where Dan works when he's in Ireland and we got a great tour of the manufacturing facility. 

We then headed to Newcastle to check in to our hotel, the Slieve Donard.  This is where Dan stays when he is traveling on business, so he wanted the kids to get to stay here too.  It's a really gorgeous hotel but now I think the kids are going to turn up their noses at the Hampton Inn, our hotel of choice when traveling in the US!

It was a long day, but it was a good one!


Laura Pearl said...

Love this! Can't wait to read more about your trip. :)

Mari said...

I love this! The towers, crosses, burial site and everything old is so amazing. I'm looking forward to more!
The hotel looks awesome!

Madeline said...

I am seriously going to love all these posts! Glad the first day was so great for you. And blood sausage = not so great.

Busy Bee Suz said...

What a history filled day. I TOO love old graveyards....what is the fascination with them? I have no idea. Maybe it's the quietness.
Such a great adventure for your family. Love that YOU are in a lot of the family pics too.