…provided by the Visitors Center as part of our solstice prize, Michael Fox took me on another high speed archeological tour, starting with this stone that’s been incorporated into a decorative wall in the town of Ardcath, where Michael lives with his wife, Bernadette Fox, a fabric artist. The figure is a woman spreading her legs—something to do with fertility.
We continued on to Fourknocks (from the Irish Fuarchnoic, or Cold Hills), a small passage tomb that, unlike Newgrange, had a great many cremated and unburned remains inside.
Next stop: Monasterboice, from the Irish Mainistir Bhuithe (Monastery of Buite). Buite was a follower of St. Patrick who once raised the king of Scotland from the dead. We’re in historical Ireland now; the tower and crosses are from the 9th and 10th centuries.
At the base of a cross, Eve giving the apple to Adam (l.), Cain killing Abel, with what looks like a hurley, the stick used to play the national game, hurling, which at times resembles field hockey, baseball, and lacrosse.
Next (and next to last) stop with Michael, who is a wonderful man who became a friend over our few days together and who took me at my word that I wanted to see as much of ancient Ireland as possible, was Mellifont Abbey.
I was about out of gas, frankly, but the abbey, established by the Cistercians in 1132, figures in the story of Newgrange. Newgrange was one of the granges, or farms, worked by Mellifont`s monks until it closed in 1539 and became private property.
Last stop: The Hill of Slane:
I gave the Hill of Tara short shrift in this blog, though it is perhaps the place that most took my breath away, not just for the view but because it is seems so close to, well, to heaven. I was jet-lagged, cold, and hungry at Tara this time, and I was as well at Slane, but I perked up when Michael pointed out that from Slane I could see Tara and Newgrange and Dowth (kind of) and Knowth (we haven’t talked about Knowth yet) and the Irish Sea.
Just as an example, Newgrange is under the lefthand arrow, Knowth under the righthand arrow. Trust me. I can email you a larger image.
Legend says that St. Patrick lit an Easter fire on this hill top in 433 AD in defiance of Lóegaire, the High King of Ireland, who had ordered that there be no other fires while a festival fire was burning on the Hill of Tara. Lóegaire summoned Patrick to Tara and was so impressed by his devotion that he let him continue missionary work in Ireland.
We finished our day with a lovely dinner at the Conyngham Arms hotel in Slane. By virtue of showing up at Newgrange, I’d been refunded the 100€ deposit I’d paid to claim my place. so I was flush and picked up the check.