|The Gothic-Tudor Style building of St Loman's Psychiatric Hospital, Mullingar|
|St Loman's Psychiatric Hospital, Mullingar|
We were heading into County Meath today. Some of the most important historic sites and monuments are located within County Meath and virtually every important aspect of Irish history from prehistoric times is associated with the county.
|The scant remains of Causestown Castle, nr Athboy, Co. Meath|
We stopped again in Castletown, on the outskirts of Athboy, this time to pay a quick visit to the mother of a friend [married to my 2nd cousin] & meet two of her brothers. It was nice to see a familiar face as I'd met Brid a couple of years ago when she was in NZ visiting her daughter.
While we didn't stop long in Athboy we did learn about the towns historic significance.
Overlooking Athboy is the Hill of Ward, an Iron Age fort where the great Celtic Feast of Samhain or Halloween took place. The festival heralded the beginning of Winter. Although the annals record the feast was held as late as 1168, it was in pagan times that the celebrations were at their wildest with the druids offering sacrifices and burning victims on Samhain [Halloween] Eve. To this day the feast of Halloween is celebrated all over Ireland & the world on the night of 31st October, with the younger generations initiating the old Celtic customs. I must admit, I was surprised to learn this from Brid & her sons, as I'd always believed that Halloween was a goulish fancy dress festival originating from the USA!
|Have you noticed my fascination with taking photos of large animals looking over fences?|
Once at Brú na Bóinne there is a 150 metre walk from the car park to the visitor centre. As we weren't touring in the height of the tourist season, we were able to get on a guided tour to the site quite quickly. Tickets were €6 each & from the visitor centre you had another 150 metre walk to where the shuttle buses pick you up. From there it is a 5km bus ride to the site.
|Newgrange before restoration [photo source unknown]|
It appears there has been much debate around the reconstruction of the structure, especially the white quartz wall, which was based on the position of the white quartz layers found during excavations in the 60's & 70's. The eventual reconstruction is an interpretation of remains from a totally collapsed site. The shape of the front is also not authentic, but was deliberately left indented to emphasise the entrance. It is these changes which have given the structure the 'modern' feel it has today.
|Newgrange Stone Pillar|
|The recontructed other wall of the Passage Tomb, Newgrange|
|Keystone, Newgrange, Co. Meath|
|Stone Hut, Newgrange, Co. Meath|
Not quite done with ancient monuments we drove onto Trim to take a look at Trim Castle. We found Trim Castle to be closed also, open from November until mid March, for weekends only.
|Old Signs, Co. Meath|
We decided to stay put in Trim for the night & booked into the Crannmor Country Guest House B&B on Dunderry Road just on the outskirts of the town. Marc & Anne O'Regan were great hosts & made us feel so welcome in their absolutely stunning home.
|Dining Room, Crannmor Country Guest House B&B, Trim|
Anne recommended we try Brogan's in Trim for a meal, an old hotel that her family used to own. It was a good choice.
|Brogan's Pub, Trim|
One of Brogans specialities is the "Brogans Steak on the Stone" - an 8oz or 12oz fillet or if you're really hungry, a 16oz T-bone Steak.... or a 20oz Porterhouse Steak, served with sauteed mushrooms & onion rings. Your steak arrives raw, on a smoking hot stone plate. It literally cooks in front of you, so you can eat it as rare or as well done as you like. It really was mouth-wateringly delicious!