Ireland is a land where it is easy to experience spirit of place.
A beautiful country, steeped in history with some of the oldest megaliths and prehistoric monuments in the world, not to mention its engaging and hospitable people. A treasure trove of history, story and characters, mixed with a little Guinness if you like it! The obvious place for a Strolls ‘n’ Stories.
The Newgrange Hotel is an old hotel with up to date facilities where the staff could not do enough to make us welcome. Based in Navan, County Meath , Navan means the cave , a good starting point for our trip way back to the past.
The pictures produced by Ellen Law gives you a little introduction to the sites and fun times we had in Ireland, including a car that we hired which one member of our group became very attached to!
Newgrange, and Knowth were our ancient starting places which can only now be accessed for short periods of time. Not that we let that stop us, So who was the architect of these alleged burial tombs or are they really sound chambers or ways of communicating with things beyond our ken? Our stories went back to the creation of Ireland through glaciers and the ice ages to the unknown architect and his people who created Newgrange itself.
We visited the Hill of Slane where St Patrick lit his forbidden Easter Fire and the first High King of Ireland is said to be buried. The story of Patrick who was taken from Scotland to become a slave in Ireland, eventually escaped and then returned to banish the devil and snakes from the land, is well known but imagine our surprise when St Bridget became the story teller and told of her disappointment with Patrick and his work!
Melifont Abbey saw us in the middle of confirmation ceremonies with young girls dressed in white and boys in suits for the catholic celebration. A mischievous monk seemed to tell our story here and there was much smiling, laughter and even dancing broke out!
WE visited Kells, where the famous Book of Kells with its beautiful lettering and illustrations was scribed by monks . We heard stories of the creation of this book and left there with the story of Brendon the monk, famous for travelling the seas on a special mission.
Navan has some interesting rivers too. The group saw where the River Boyne and the Blackwater meet, a strange merging and flowing of waters.
Our visit concluded with a visit to the Hill of Tara, the seat of the high King of Ireland where Tia Tephi an Egyptian princess once came as a refugee and ended up marrying one of the High Kings. And of course no trip to Ireland is complete without the story of how the faery folk were driven underground at one of the burial mounds at Tara.
Rumour has it the song Irelands Call, the Irish national rugby anthem could be heard resonating for miles as the group gave voice at the top of a mound. Indeed throughout this trip we were basking in music, singing and toning provided by Thoby Davies , one of the group members. Flute during the day and Guitar at night, we spent long hours into the evening, singing, dancing for those who wanted and engaging with local characters in the hotel and pub. Such wonderful relaxing evenings with excellent food, drink and entertainment . A big thank you to Thoby for bringing his talent and adding such a wonderful dimension to our Irish trip.
Of course what makes a trip work are the people who come on it…and what a great group of people they were. Everybody made the task so easy, everyone participated and enjoyed.
And for all those who have been asking…yes, there will be another one next year or may be even two. Certainly a trip to the South of Ireland is in the pipeline and a return trip to Newgrange for those who couldn’t come because the trip was full this year.
Look forward to seeing you there!