Monday, 6 November 2017

County Meath - so many things to see and do...

Not sure why... maybe because it's so close to Dublin, we had never properly visited County Meath. 

Yes, we had seen some of the most popular places there, but never stayed overnight, so last weekend we decided to pack our things and  get to know Meath a bit better.

And let me tell you: WE WILL BE BACK!

Places I wouldn't miss if I were you:

- Slane Castle: Impressive.

That is what all of us thought when we saw the castle from the road.... It was late in the afternoon and we did not go for the guided tour, but I would recommend you to go inside, to the bar and have a drink.

...and if you're lucky enough to have good weather, the terrace is waiting for you:

Only heard good comments about the restaurant as well (Gandom Room Restaurant), so we've added a Sunday lunch  @ Slane Castle to our "End of 2017 to-do-list"

- We also visited the Hill of Slane.

If you do not know why Slane Hill is famous for, this is my son explaning it to you ;-) 

So, basically "St Patrick read a proclamation or something to say that Ireland would be Catholic instead of non-Catholic". What a summary!!!

- Loughcrew Cairns: a surprise! A huge surprise

For those of you who have not heard about Loughcrew - in Irish Sliabh na Cailli - meaning Hill of the Witch - and on surrounding hills, it is a passage tomb site (one of the four main ones in Ireland), located near Oldcastle, in Co. Meath. It dates back to approx 3300 BC, so a bit older than Newgrange, which is located only a few kilometres away.

We had heard about Loughcrew, but what we did not know is that one of these passage tombs - called Cairn T -  is aligned with the Equinox sunrise: it is directed to receive the beams of the rising sun in the mornings around the Spring and Autumn equinoxes (21 March and 21 September) -  during those mornings, the light from the sun shines down the passage and illuminates the art on the backstone of the chamber... Stunning, isn't it?

Very similar to what happens in Newgrange for the Winter solstice. Loughcrew is not so popular though, but I would say it is also spectacular to be in the chamber during those mornings in March and September.

We really enjoyed our walk up to the top of the Cairn T ....

 and the views from there - stunning.

plus we had great company all the way up and down which made the day even better!

Tried to imagine how the tombs were built with such a precision so long ago and the kids were simply amazed trying to imagine it (they were actually inclined to believe the local legend -  that the tombs were actually built by witch Garavogue who jumped from hill to hill, dropping stones from her apron on her way. Those stones formed the cairns that can be admired today! )

If you feel hungry on your way down - like we were - I would strongly recommend the cafe in the Loughcrew Gardens only a couple of kilometres away (we did not visit the gardens, another point for our to-do-list as it seems like the prefect place for "active" kids): the hot chocolate is sooo good, and I loved their vegetable soup.

- Last but not least, I would also recommend Fore Abbey - the location is just perfect, and the ruins are so special.

And, of course, if you add that little bit of magic (the tree that does not burn, or the water that flows uphill, the water that doesn't boil... are three of the 7 Wonders of the place that you can read here), then you have the perfect combination to attract the kids' attention for a while.

Actually it is a miracle that we can still see some ruins of the place as it was burnt up to 12 times between 771 and 1162.

So many things we saw, so many castles, good cafés, lovely restaurants that we will for sure come back very soon to explore more in depth.

In the meantime, we will enjoy with our memories and our pictures.

If you want to spend a weekend packed with adventure, "wow" moments, history on site lessons and fantastic food,  Co. Meath is the place for you and yours!

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