1YoT: Dublin and Newgrange

Four years ago, Inna and I backpacked through Great Britain and made a quick stopover in Dublin. We loved loved loved the trip, especially Dublin (especially especially Irish pubs, Irish music, and Guinness), so on this trip we knew we wanted to come back to Ireland.

Because we had already spent time in Dublin, we didn’t spent too much time in the city, although we did fly in and out of it. For our full day in Dublin we took a daytrip to Newgrange, one of Ireland’s most spectacular destinations. And at night, we went to pubs and enjoyed the best beer in the world, Irish Guinness. Here’s our blog post about it!

We had a layover in Paris on our trip from Bologna to Dublin. This resulted in lots of low level flying over France, and the views were gorgeous!

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This is Dublin, a beautiful city. And doing much better than four years ago, when we visited right after their economic recession.

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2016 marks the 100 year anniversary of Ireland’s separation from England. This combined with how much better the economy was doing made it truly an exciting time to be in Ireland!

Irish statues are very different than those in Italy, England, and France because they are life-sized, not larger than life. While this makes the statues less awe-inspiring, they are still moving and powerful, just in a different way. 

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Dublin’s Temple Bar district, our favorite place in the city. The food, the music, the ambiance, the Guinness… so amazing, so delicious…

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Yay for more friends! This is one of Inna’s friends middle school, who was traveling through Dublin when we arrived, exploring her Irish roots.

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Since we had visited Dublin before, on this visit we traveled an hour north, to the small town of Drogheda, nearest city to the spectacular Newgrange.

Despite being a small and unspectacular city, Drogheda was beautiful and, like most cities in non-war torn Europe, had buildings that were hundreds of years old.

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Alright, enough stalling, here is Newgrange, one of Ireland’s most incredible sites and one of the most spectacular destinations in the world. This building, built by Neolithic peoples around 3200 BC, is older than both Stonehenge and the Pyramids; it is one of the oldest buildings in the world.

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After the prehistoric people who built Newgrange left (or died off, I’m not sure which), the building was overcome by grass and simply looked like a large mound. It remained this way until 1699, when the owner of the land hired laborers to dig the mound up. Luckily, the laborers started digging right at the entrance to the building, and upon discovering what was inside they stopped digging and reported their findings. Thus Newgrange was rediscovered after thousands of years of hiding.

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The entrance to Newgrange had to be reconstructed after the building was excavated, and the circular rock walls were also built to facilitate tourist entry. So what is original ask? For one, these spiral carved rocks. No one knows what they mean.

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The more exciting original feature is the insides, which are still intact in their original form. The insides required no reconstruction and the building hasn’t even had one leak in 5000+ years, as a water control system was carved into the rocks of the building, effectively diverting rainwater away from its insides.

Additionally, every year on winter solstice, the entrance to Newgrange aligns with the rising sun, naturally illuminating what is otherwise a pitch black inside. When we visited they recreated this experience and it was amazing, and every year 100 lucky people (selected from a lottery of thousands of applicants) get to experience the actual winter solstice event, weather permitting. 

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Unfortunately, while we were able to enter Newgrange, pictures weren’t allowed inside, so all we can do is describe our experience; we can’t show any pictures of it.

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Newgrange is actually part of the larger Bru Na Boinne complex, which consists of more than 90 Neolithic monuments. The small mound pictured above is one of them; all but three (Newgrange being the most famous of the three) are about this size.

In addition to everything I’ve already described, Newgrange was surrounded by Celtic era constructions. Historians believe that the Celtics knew this was a religious area, but rather than use the pre-existing buildings, they chose to build their own buildings next to them.

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And finally, the land around Newgrange was gorgeous, just like (as we’ll soon see) the entire island that is Ireland.

This marks the end of our visit to Newgrange, and with it our visit to nearby Dublin. But our trip to Ireland is just beginning, up next, one of the most incredible destinations we’ve ever visited.

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