With over 250 photographs and hours of video, I can't help but feel I discover a new jewel each time I look at my Ireland pictures. Fortunately, I can't hold you captive on my couch and force you to look at everything. Highlights only. Having said that, I feel my initial post on the Hill of Slane, County Meath is incomplete so I want to add to it.
The Hill of Slane (492 ft.) is a peaceful, dreamy place overlooking one of the loveliest parts of the Boyne Valley, and on a clear day you can see for miles. See the Ireland Pictures post below for a hilltop view. It's where St. Patrick chose to light the Christian Paschal Fire in defiance of Irish King Laoghaire. Next to the cemetery is Slane Abbey, dating back to the 15th century, the reason for the additional post.
At first glance, the remaining two-story stone walls look unadorned, but if you look closely there are faces gazing back at you.
This photograph shows the stone mason's skill at carving and building archways.
Next, we visited Monasterboice, an ancient monastic site with one of Ireland's tallest round towers, church ruins and beautiful Celtic crosses. The original site is said to have been founded in the 4th century by a follower of St. Patrick named St. Buithe. The small community thrived for centuries until it was seized by vikings in the 10th century. The Irish high king of Tara, Donal, regained the territory soon after, and is said to have single-handedly killed 300 of those pesky viking guys. The elaborately carved Muiredeach's High Cross, dating from 922, is in great condition. Once again, we arrived early managing to tour the site before a bus load of people showed up. Tourists...sheesh. :D
Muiredeach's High Cross
If you think you're made of stauncher stuff than the average person, rent a car and make your own way. There's really no other way to travel. Your itinerary and hours are yours. Driving on the opposite side of the road with the driver's seat on the opposite side of the car makes for exciting times and the sheer terror--I mean fun-- of screaming your way through a foreign country along narrow, winding roads the size of a large sidewalk with stone walls on either side with no shoulder going 100 km but feels like warp speed should definitely not be underestimated.
Next stop: Carlingford