Saturday, January 19, 2013

Ireland Part 2: Kells and County Meath

Kells is a nice town. It was small and quiet but the people were amazingly friendly and there is a lot to see in the area if you're into ruins. It's best known for its connection to the Book of Kells (one of the best examples of illuminated manuscripts from the Dark Ages, go and google it!) and you'll see that reference everywhere. There was even a replica Book of Kells in out hotel lobby!

We had dinner in the hotel restaurant and were told that there would be live music later that night. We got some drinks and stayed for the show, which was...interesting? The guy wasn't a bad singer but his song choices were soooo cheesy, I think we were more laughing than listening. The drinks kept flowing and then he sang some ABBA, and since the Irish are apparently not immune to the European obsession with everyone's favorite overrated Swedish pop band (yes, I said it!!) they stampeded the dance floor to dance.

Mashed potatoes AND roasted potatoes all on one plate? Is this heaven??

Now that everyone was dancing Karen (Fionn's mom) and I decided to go dance too. We ended up dancing to "Come On Eileen" with a group of older ladies who then pulled us into all the rest of their group dances. It was pretty fun :)

The boys watched from a safe distance!

The next day the very helpful lady at the front desk of our hotel gave us a list of places to see in the area, including Loughcrew, a megalithic burial site. The coolest part is that you can go by the visitor's office and pick up a key which allows you to go into one of the largest mounds to see the ancient stone carvings.

As a historical preservation minded person, that makes me squeal with delight and also gawk in amazement that such a historical treasure is just THERE for you to climb on and touch and get up close and personal with. So cool.

En route to Loughcrew we stopped to see a High Cross and Norman era tower in Kells...

After getting the key we made the muddy walk up to Loughcrew. The view was amazing, and when we reached the top we were the only ones around as we explored the mounds and the carvings in the stones set into the ground.

Finally we unlocked the gate and went into the largest mound. It was a tight squeeze, so we really had to hunch down and squeeze your way in. It was dark except for a small space cut into the stone overhead, so we used a flashlight to illuminate the carvings. It was really amazing to see them so close, it made you feel like you'd discovered something amazing.

using the flashlight to peer into the chambers

We spent a little longer there before heading back to the car. I wish I could share all the pictures of that beautiful place!

Next stop was Fore Priory, an old monastery. It was really cool, and again, amazing that you could just run and climb all over it and explore all of it. I'm such a nerd :)

By the time we got back to the car we were losing daylight, so we decided to get on the road for our next stop-Belfast!

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