19.07.2013 - 21.07.2013
So back in July I took a flight out to visit a friend in Dublin. We had met at summer camp in Canada in 2011 and now myself and an Australian friend were flying over from England to have a little catchup weekend. We had thought on doing so many things during the 3 days we were there, but in honesty we never got round to half of them! Girls have this amazing ability to make catchups last forever and we are very proud of it! However, we did get to see some quite amazing sights. We skipped over the Guinness Factory (partly because I'm not a big beer fan) and headed straight into the country for a bit of celtic heritage seeking.
We went and had a nosy around the Battle of the Boyne. Back in 1690 the area was the site of a battle fought between William of Orange (a Protestant and the King of England, Scotland & Ireland) and James II (the deposed Catholic King). It is located 30 miles North of Dublin and was considered the last natural barrier facing WIlliam and his men as he headed to meet the stronghold of James II in July 1690. The battle came to an end on the southern side of the river with William being victorious. Consequently this ended any hope James had of regaining the throne.
Nowadays the site of the battle is a peaceful place. There is a small attraction in the form of the Oldbridge House, the Tea Pavilion (cafe), and large areas of grassland. The Oldbridge House was built in the 1750s and extended in 1832, and believed to be designed by architect George Darley. The use of Renaissance architectural concepts are evident with the use of the three storeys, which was believed to be a harmonious. The original 1850s house had three storeys and was three bays wide, thereby visually illustrating harmony, proportion, and unity (renaissance ideals). The old Roman features popular in the Renaissance are also viewable within the entrance design with the use of columns and closed pediments. The house works to create a very peaceful atmosphere with its natural surroundings. It contains a visitors centre and an informative display which is meant to be very interesting, but unfortunately I never got the chance to have a peek around. There is also a self guided tour of the parklands that can be done, and there are various monuments plotted along the land, such as canons, with their own descriptive signs. We were lucky that it was a lovely sunny day, a great opportunity to take advantage of the picnic benches outside the House. A visit is a great chance to get out of the city of Dublin and stretch your legs!
Then we went and visited Newgrange, a Stone Age Passage Tomb built about 5000 years ago. It is a little out the way from Dublin, but luckily my friend had her car there and acted as a brilliant tour guide! The Tomb is circular and decorated around the outside with these white stones, which are apparently part of the original design from 3200BC. Very impressive. It is based on a open planned hill, ideally located to act as the highest point to a local village back in the day. You can still imagine how the people of the time would have focused on this building as their religious centre. And still the tomb creates an awe-inspiring moment when you first see it. It's hard to believe it is so old, yet so the architecture of it is so advanced for its time. You have to wait for a few minutes to go inside with your group, which leaves plenty of time for a walk right around the tomb. It's a great opportunity because as the tomb is built on a small hill the views around are beautiful! You can see great sweeping fields and the landscape stretches quite a way.
The tomb itself is designed in a pyramid manner, with stones piled over each other, joining at the top, in a /\ shape, with earth placed over. Standing in the centre of the building it feels a little claustrophobic as you realise how many stones above you are playing jenga. But the fact that they have been balanced that way for the 5000 years creates some sort of trust in the structure. The tomb also has a spiritual and religious tone to it. On the winter solstice the sun shines through an opening (a roof-box) that lies parallel with the centre of the structure, allowing a beam of light to spread into the tomb and gradually flood the inside in a golden hue. This only happens for a few minutes and only on the shortest days of the year. Tickets for these special days are difficult to come by, and if I remember correctly, you must enter your name in a draw for the chance to come on this special day. However, for those of us who do not win said coveted ticket, there have been artificial lights installed that mimic the patterns of the light. It is interesting to see, and makes you wonder what happened to the knowledge that existed so long ago that created this mathematical genius. For by the dark ages it had surely depleted. It is one of the wonders that makes the celts such an interesting people.
These images below are from the outside of Newgrange. The whole circular structure is surrounded by these large stones with swirling patterns. The entrance is also is guarded by some oblong stones. The second image shows in more detail the celtic patterns carved into the stone and the top section of the photo shows the roof box where the beam of light shines through on the winter solstice in December.