Hill of Tara and the Boyne Valley

Kurt and I arrived safely and on time in Dublin this morning at 6:55 a.m., and dear brother Paul was waiting for us at the airport exit (my wonderful sister-in-law, Theresa, being occupied in Dublin completing some coursework for her Master’s in Non-Profit Management).  Paul whisked us out of Dublin, amazing us with his skillful driving (they drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road here, remember), and his almost encyclopedic grasp of Irish culture and history.  I know I’m a little prejudiced, but my brother is one of the most intelligent people I know (this is someone you don’t want to challenge to a game of Trivial Pursuit), and what’s great is that he’s very humble about displaying his knowledge.  Driving around the Boyne Valley with him today was like having the best tour guide ever.  We went to Paul and Theresa’s charming and spacious cottage between the villages of Mullagh and Moynalty, had a quick breakfast and wash-up, and hit the road.  We had a very productive first day on the Emerald Isle, as you will see – here are some of the things we did in just a few hours.

View of Mullagh Lake from the "Golden Mile," a walk Paul frequents near their home in Mullagh

View of Mullagh Lake from the “Golden Mile,” a walk Paul frequents near their home in Mullagh

After our brief walk, we went to view Dowdstown House (http://www.dowdstownhouse.com), a counseling and retreat center.  Paul has been trained as a volunteer bereavement counselor, and Dowdstown House is where he will be doing his bereavement work.

Dowdstown House, home of Dowdstown Counseling Center, on the site of Dalgan Park, the former seminary of the Missionary Fathers of St. Columban

Dowdstown House, home of Dowdstown Counseling Center, on the site of Dalgan Park, the former seminary of the Missionary Fathers of St. Columban

Next we went to The Hill of Tara, an important stretch of grassy landscape in the Boyne River valley (north of Dublin and on the way home from the airport to Paul and Theresa’s place in the country near the village of Mullagh).  It has played a central role in the history, legend, and folklore of Ireland, and is the home of  important stone and earth works from the Stone Age, Iron Age, Roman times and the rule of the Celtic kings.  When my mom and I were here over ten years ago for Paul and Theresa’s wedding, we were unable to see Tara because there was an outbreak of foot-and-mouth-disease at that time, and many of the ancient sites that are in rural areas (of which there are many) were closed to tourists, as such sites are often home to livestock which might be susceptible to infection.

Sandra and Kurt standing by the very phallic "Stone of Destiny" at Tara

Sandra and Kurt standing by the very phallic “Stone of Destiny” at Tara

Churchyard on the grounds of the Hill of Tara

Churchyard on the grounds of the Hill of Tara

"Fairy Tree," festooned with    fabric, charms, and other random items (such as shoehorn, baby pacifiers, earrings, and religious medals

A “Fairy Tree,” festooned with fabric, charms, and other random items (such as shoehorns, baby pacifiers, earrings, and religious medals) upon which people may make wishes when attaching 

And since this would not be a blog written by myself without its share of food writing and photos, here is a picture of my lunch at the cafe near Tara – I remembered both the cafe and the soup and bread I had today from my last trip to Ireland with my mom over 10 years ago – yes, that’s the kind of thing I remember!

Veg soul, side salad, and amazing homemade whole grain and seed bread at Macguires Cafe on the grounds of Tara

Veg soup, side salad, and amazing homemade whole grain and seed bread at Macguires Cafe on the grounds of Tara

After our lunch at Tara, we drove to Bective Abbey, a fine example of Cistercian architecture founded in 1147, and totally rebuilt a century later.

Paul and Kurt at Bective Abbey

Paul and Kurt at Bective Abbey

Cloister area of Bective Abbey

Cloister area of Bective Abbey

CIMG3581

Carving of "ecclesiastic' in Bective Abbey cloister

Carving of “ecclesiastic’ in Bective Abbey cloister

Old arched bridge on west bank of Boyne River near Bective Abbey

Old arched bridge on west bank of Boyne River near Bective Abbey

We drove through beautiful bucolic countryside on our way around the Boyne Valley – lovely cottages such as the one below, as well as amazing ancient stone fences both with mortar and ‘dry fences’ created very skillfully with no mortar.

Charming cottage near village of Dunsany on the road to Bective Abbey

Charming cottage near village of Dunsany on the road to Bective Abbey

After Bective Abbey, we went into Navan, a nearby town, on a  search for a fan –  Ireland is in the midst of a veritable heat wave, and Paul feared we might not be able to sleep without one.  Fan found and in hand, we went home and crashed.

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12 Responses to Hill of Tara and the Boyne Valley

  1. ssteven2 says:

    Sandra,
    Fabulous photos of your first day in Ireland! Bective Abbey looks especially beautiful. I love the photo captions. Can’t believe I never did that. Must go back and add captions in my blog. Thanks for showing me. Looks like you all have beautiful weather also. Tell Paul that Heike from Il Sasso says Hi.

  2. Susan says:

    And this was your first day! Wow, we are all in for a treat! So glad ya’ll arrived safely and are off and running on what looks like an amazing tour. Did you plan to wear that beautiful bright pink shirt so you could look stunning against the backdrop of the scenery (I always knew you were an artist and I love it that you are starring in your own production)!! I’m sure you hated that sentence because of your modesty and humility, but I and I’m sure many others who will be following your blog are thrilled to travel along with ya’ll on this journey and feel so connected to you and to your experiences. Enjoy!!! Love, Susan

    • sandra062013 says:

      Susan, thanks for your sweet and thoughtful response! I really appreciate hearing from you. You would love Ireland – so green and lush and even though they say it is hot right now it is lovely – the air is cool and the nights are chilly. So much amazing scenery and colors. It is such a treat to be with Paul and Theresa – they are the best hosts ever. Love you!

  3. Annalisa says:

    What an amazing and wonderful endeavor! Both your travels and your blog! Beautiful in every way. Can’t wait to show Mom. Keep ’em coming.

    • sandra062013 says:

      Annalisa, thanks so much for your comment! It is great to know that I am not just posting out into a black hole! You would love it here – so green and lush and beautiful colors and flowers and scenery! Keep those comments coming! love you!

  4. Joyce says:

    Sandra,
    Living vicariously through you! I am really enjoying your blog. I love the churchyard on hill of Tara picture. I looked at your B&B for tonight and it just made me exhale. Have a wonderful time.

  5. Ali says:

    Heat wave, huh? What does that mean, 80 degrees? Looks like ya’ll are having fun!

    • sandra062013 says:

      Thanks for posting, hon! Yep, we are having a great time, not much great food though ;-( Yet! ;-( Going to a place called the Goat Street Cafe tonight which looks promising! love you!

  6. sandra062013 says:

    Sara, thanks! We are now on the Dingle Peninsula, and just found internet access – our B&B doesn’t have it! Frustrating. Sitting in a bar now to post an entry. Stay tuned!

  7. ssteven2 says:

    Sandra, It’s Richard. I’m catching up on your blog today. Loved the picture of the food.

    • sandra062013 says:

      Hey, Richard, thanks for the comment! Don’t worry, there will be more photos of food coming for you to look forward to! 😉 Hope you enjoy the other things, at least….

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