/ The Dublin Guide
Dublin — By Jessica Colley on May 16, 2010 at 5:03 pm
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Ancient History on Dublin’s Doorstep

Beyond all of the pubs, music, and food that travelers love about Ireland, there is a rich history to be discovered. Some of it is as recent as the last few decades, but some of it is as old as 5,000 years ago. Taking the time to see this side of Ireland during a visit to Dublin will help to give you a well-rounded perspective on what and who shaped Ireland into how it is today.

One of the best daytrips outside Dublin to gain this historical perspective is Newgrange, in the Boyne Valley, County Meath (approximately 1 hour north of Dublin). This 5,000 year old passage tomb was built during the New Stone Age and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While Newgrange is often called a passage tomb, it can also be called an ancient temple. This archeological site is 1,000 years older than Stonehenge in England, and is much more interesting to visitors.

This site shows the sophistication of the farming community who built it. Each year on the winter solstice, light comes streaming through the main tunnel filling the chamber with a brilliant light. The technology and understanding of our world to achieve this is extraordinary. During your tour, there will be a presentation with lights as to how the chamber appears on the special winter solstice. Passionate guides help to bring this archeological site to life.

What has always fascinated me about Newgrange is that it is rain tight. In Ireland, a place known for rain, this 5,000 year old structure built with just stones is rain tight. A spectacular swirling design of rocks in the ceiling shows that these people must have had some artistic bones in their bodies as well. Through a visit to Newgrange, you can start making your own theories about who these people were, and what messages they were trying to portray with their monuments.

There are two ways to reach Newgrange: rent a car (by far the most convenient) or take the train to the seaside town of Drogheda and then take a bus from there. This route is manageable, although you will want to get an early start to make sure you are in time for one of the guided tours. Newgrange is only available to be seen through guided tours, and these are affordable, at less than 20 euros per person.

Another aspect of the passage tomb that has always struck me is the ‘graffiti’. There are carvings of boys names on the rocks inside of the monument – dated back to the 1800s. It is obvious that local boys discovered the passage tomb and used it as a playground before it was discovered for its historical significance. Get out of Dublin for a day and you will be rewarded by the this spectacular monument.

Photo Credit: Jessica Colley

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