On our way south we visited Newgrange and the Valley of the Boyne. This was a highlight of the trip, awe-inspiring, in fact. Our guide, Frank, was outstanding on a number of levels – clear, engaging presentation, accepted no nonsense from visitors, and had a sense of drama in the climactic build in his little narrative preparing us for the light coming into the tomb (simulated by strategically placed lamps). For those not familiar with this place, Newgrange is a wonderful feat of engineering which took over 40 years to create in 2000BC. It is over 75 metres in diameter, weighs 200,000 tonnes and was constructed by farmers using nothing by tools of wood and stone. The true marvel, however, is the roof-box above the entrance, which is positioned perfectly for the first rays of sun on the days of the winter solstice. Today, to be one of the 15 people per day (about 50 in total) who see the sun strike the floor of the centre of the tomb takes nearly as much luck as winning lotto – there were 31,531 applications for the 2011 winter solstice draw! Popular gig for something that lasts about 15 minutes from pitch black through to light back to pitch black again.
We drove back to Dublin, dumped our luggage at the hotel, returned the hire car (no extra costs, yay!), and caught a cab to O’Connell bridge for strolling and window shopping. It’s always nice, that last night in a city before going home, soaking up every moment, knowing that there is only a slim chance of a return visit. We even had time to pop into the National Art Gallery for a wander and a look, which we didn’t seem to have time for the first few days in town.