I went to Newgrange on Sunday morning. I arrived way to early in Dublin so I wandered around and got a cup of tea and chocolate twist at a coffee shop near Grafton Street. I then went back to the pick-up spot of the shuttle that takes me to Newgrange and waited until it was time to leave. I ended up meeting a fellow solo traveler (at least for this part of her trip) and we kept one another company on the shuttle bus and then hung out while we went to visit the actual site.
Newgrange is a megalitihic tomb; it’s the oldest one of its kind in all of Europe. The age is estimated to be about 5000 years old, I think. Anyway, we were dropped off at the visitor center where we watched a video and then toured the exhibit of the excavation of Newgrange as well as two other tombs similar to it within a couple of miles of it: Knowth and Dowth. Knowth doesn’t open until Good Friday and Dowth isn’t part of the site, it can be visited independently but we didn’t have time to do that.
From the visitor center there is a bus that takes visitors to the tomb. It was amazing to see and imagine that for thousands of years it was believed to be just a hill of grass, because it had been grown over. Back in 1699 (ish) the farmer who owned it was walking by and saw the dirt caved in at a spot and then he saw the opening. The thing that is cool about this is that it is lined up so that on and around the winter solstice the light shines in a hole in the wall to illuminate the tomb. The rest of the year the tomb is pitch black but on those few days a year it gets illuminated for about 15 minutes in the morning from that beam of light. They do a simulation while you’re in the tomb (it’s a bit of tight, short path to enter) to give you an idea of what it’s like when it really happens. Every year there’s a lottery (free) to win a ticket to visit Newgrange for the winter solstice and experience it for real. I entered at the visitor’s center and I plan on entering frequently once I get home (you can do it on their website). Of course, if it’s rainy and doesn’t happen, such is life.
After leaving Newgrange I walked around town a bit with Kristin and then we grabbed a drink and a bite to eat. She had an early flight the next morning, so we parted a little after 8pm (the live music hadn’t started yet, but I didn’t want to stay by myself) and I headed back to my room. On the plus side I got to ride the LUAS (tram that goes through Dublin city) to get to the pub near her hotel quickly. It was just a five minute walk back though so I took my time and enjoyed the fresh air.
I was so tired and had an early morning planned for Monday so I just took a shower and went to bed.