Sunday, April 26, 2015

Ireland Vacation: Tara, Loughcrew and Monasterboice

Loughcrew's spectacular view.
While we were in Ireland, we took a Celtic Day Tour and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Before the trip, I was a bit so-so about heading out to Tara. I had read a few opinions encouraging us to switch out Tara from our itinerary in favor of another location. In the end, I could not imagine going to Ireland without visiting the Hill of Tara!


Tara
The Hill of Tara was the location where the ancient kings of Ireland were crowned. The coronation stone at Tara is said to have squealed while touched by the would-be king. Inaugural feasts for the new kings were held at Tara. Also at Tara is the Mound of Hostages which is an ancient tomb. Relics from the tomb can be observed at an exhibit at The National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology in Dublin.
Tara Ireland
Mound of the Hostages
The hill was also the site of a 1798 battle between Irish yeomanry was the British. This history touched me as the Irish were severely less equipped than the British and were essentially mowed down. I really felt an attachment to these Irishmen when I thought about how we had earned our independence not so many years before at great odds. I knew that I would feel some attachment to Tara as a descendant of Irish immigrants to America. But, I this new information about Tara touched me even further.


The site also contains a church dating from 1822. Previous churches stood on the same site. Adjacent to the church is a graveyard that is eerie yet picturesque. There were ravens madly flying about the graveyard, adding to the eerie quality. Truly a lovely and spiritual place.

Near the Hill of Tara is a pleasant little cafe that provides for a wonderful respite and bite to eat. There are restrooms available and a gift shop to boot! So if you go, do make a stop there!

Loughcrew
On the tour, we also visited Loughcrew. Loughcrew is another ancient site featuring cairns or tombs. There are several to explore and one had wonderful carving to observe.

The view from Loughcrew.
The star overall of Loughcrew is the amazing view. No matter which direction you turn in, you will be blown away. Amazing! We could have enjoyed the views all day!

Monasterboice tower and tallest Celtic cross in Ireland.
The same day, we also toured Monasterboice which is an ancient Christian settlement dating all the way back to the 5th century AD.  The structures at Monasterboice do not date all the way back to the 5th century but several of the Celtic crosses date back to about 900 AD including the tallest in all of Ireland. There is a round tower that dates back to approximately 1100 AD and the ruins of two churches dating to around the 1300's. Another lovely ancient site that is peaceful to explore.


Our day visiting Celtic sites was truly inspiring. The sites are truly not to be missed are entirely peaceful yet stirring and spiritual. A day that I will always remember!


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