“There is a place on the East / Mysterious ring, a magical ring of stones…”

Oftentimes, my love of Celtic music inspires me to research different physical places.  On my first trip to Ireland in 2011, I spent a lot of time on the bus humming different tunes to myself as the bus moved on.  It made the songs come alive, to see the places lyricists were writing about.  So, it makes perfect sense to go to another place captured in song – Newgrange.


Newgrange.  Image Credit: Wikipedia

Newgrange is located north of Dublin, in county Meath, and known as the most important Stone Age site in Europe.  Constructed over 5,000 years ago, this monolithic passage tomb is older than both Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids, though now it is also recognized as having astrological, ceremonial, religious and spiritual connections.  The mound is roughly 9 meters high and 104 in diameter, with stone slabs decorated in intricate spirals.

File:Newgrange, Ireland.jpg

Entrance stones with engraved spirals.  Image Credit: Wikipedia

On the morning of the winter solstice, the tunnel leading into the heart of the mound is lit by the rising sun.  The light continues to enter farther and farther into the tunnel, until at last the inner chamber is lit.  The event last for about 17 minutes, before the chamber is dark once more.

Newgrange Winter Solstice

Newgrange on the winter solstice.  Image Credit:

Since admission to Newgrange is on a first come, first serve basis, I plan to take a day tour to see the site rather than try to go it on my own.  One tour I see recommended fairly consistently is Mary Gibbon’s Newgrange and Hill of Tara tour. For 35 Euro per adult, she picks up tourists from various meeting places in Dublin and drives them to Newgrange,  allowing people to enter the tomb without waiting in line for a ticket.  The tour also includes a stop at the Hill of Tara and a drive through the town of Slane.  However, upon reading reviews, some of which describing last minute cancellations or not being picked up at all, among other things, I fear I’m a bit concerned.

I decided to look into a different tour through Gray Line, and found that it had much better reviews – the major complaint was that the air conditioning on the bus wasn’t functioning.   This tour goes to Newgrange and the Hill of Tara exactly like Mary’s tour, but it also travels to Howth, stopping to look out over Dublin Bay.  The tour is also comparable price-wise:  at $46 US dollars, it costs roughly 34 euro.

However, if one would like to visit Newgrange without a tour group, the cost of admission is covered for Heritage Card holders.

Additional links & Resources:

The Gold Book:  Ireland, page 59

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