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Hill of Tara and Newgrange

Since Dublin is relatively isolated from many of the traditional Irish destinations, I chose to spend my full day in Ireland visiting the nearby Boyne Valley and taking in the the countryside. Specifically, I joined a tour by Mary Gibbons that took us to the Hill of Tara and Newgrange.

The Hill of Tara dates to Neolithic times (~3000 BC). It’s most popularly known as serving as the seat of the Irish kings (~600 AD), and more recently (~1900) it was excavated by British Israelites who thought that the Ark of the Covenant was buried there. Currently (October 24, 2007), it’s basically just a hill.

Newgrange is part of the Brú na Bóinne complex (a collection of Neolithic chamber tombs). Built between 3300-2900 BC, it’s an UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s 500 years older than the Great Pyramid and predates stonehenge by 1,000 years. The Newgrange tomb was excavated and restored between 1962-1975, and it was discovered that on the Winter Solstice, the sun’s light illuminates the inner chamber for 17 minutes. I joined the tour group and squeezed through the entrance to see the inner chamber firsthand (no pictures allowed), and I entered the lottery for a chance to watch the Winter Solstice in person.

The view from the Hill of Tara.

Newgrange.

The view from Newgrange.

Megalithic art at the base of Newgrange.

The white quartzite restoration of the Newgrange facade.

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