When I was in Egypt, I left feeling like we saw some of the oldest sites on earth. Little did I know at the time that Ireland possesses passage tombs in Bru Na Boinne that are 500 years older than the pyramids!! I really debated long and hard over whether it was worth it to drive out of our way to visit this site. In retrospect, I am SO glad we did! It was truly incredible, AND it was a beautiful day for us to be outside!!
We visited two of the 5,000-year-old passage tombs, Newgrange and Knowth. They are huge grass-covered burial mounds. A stone passage leads to an internal chamber. They were so well built that no water has ever entered the chamber! While it’s hard to know exactly how or why these were originally built, they suspect a few things. First, the suspect that the materials were brought to the site in order to construct the tombs. (Approximately 200,000-250,000 tons of materials.) There are huge boulders (some of which weigh approximately five tons) around the base of the mounds. Many of the stones have designs carved into them! They also suspect that these people worshipped the sun, because the entrance to the passages perfectly aligns with the sunrise & sunset on the equinoxes and solstices, respectively. It’s impossible to enter Knowth, but at Newgrange, you can go inside! Unfortunately, there’s no photography, but the passageway is super narrow! Like, turn sideways, suck-it-in, and squeeze through narrow! Once you get to the inner chamber, the guide turns off the lights and simulates what happens on the winter solstice when the sun comes through the roofbox above the door and shines into the chamber for a whopping 17 minutes! The perfect alignment and precision with which these were built is seriously impressive!
[Someone got a Senior entry! Not sure if she was even old enough!]
I think it’s safe to say that our minds were blown a bit after seeing these passage tombs!
We backtracked to Dublin and then south to Powerscourt House & Gardens. After lunch in their café, we headed out for a walk in the incredible gardens!
One of my major motivations for visiting these gardens was that National Geographic rated them the #3 gardens in the world. In July 2013, my mom and I visited Butchart Gardens on Victoria Island in British Columbia, Canada. The sunken garden was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. The flowers were ENORMOUS, and the place was perfectly manicured. When I saw the National Geographic rating of Powerscourt Gardens, I needed to check the full list to see how they rated Butchart. It turns out, they named Butchart Gardens #4! Well, we had to visit to see if we agreed with the rating or not.
[This was my point of reference – Butchart Gardens, Victoria Island, British Columbia]
Powerscourt felt significantly bigger, and while it had huge, towering trees, and the biggest rhododendrons I’ve ever seen. I love a perfectly manicured garden even more. We loved the day outside surrounded by beauty, but for what it’s worth, I’m not sure I agree with the National Geographic garden ratings.
They even had a pet cemetery! There were lots of dogs, rabbits, and horses buried there, but these were the most notable tombstones to me:
It took a couple more hours to drive to Arthurstown in County Wexford. We stayed in several old manor houses on this trip, and this was one of our favorites – Dunbrody Country House Hotel. The house was built in 1830, and it is owned & operated by Kevin & Catherine Dundon. For those foodies out there, you may know Kevin as an Irish celebrity chef. While we didn’t meet him, rumor has it he was in the kitchen the night we were there. Of course we had to order the 8-course tasting menu!