Wednesday, April 18, 2012 – Dublin, Ireland

     We ate early in the Horizon Court today because we wanted to be on the first shuttle into Dublin.  We had to meet Mary Gibbons Tour at 10:15 am outside the Pizza Hut on Suffolk St.  The shuttle dropped us off at Kildare St. and we walked about 5 blocks to the Pizza Hut, snapping a picture of Molly Malone on the way.  We were early so we did some shopping.  We then waited outside and it began to rain.  Mary arrived on time and collected 35 Euros each and we settled in.  The bus was pretty full and we also picked up a group of French university students with their 2 teachers/chaperones.  On our way to Tara Hill Mary had to stop her lecture to ask for silence on the bus.  She also said before we started that she expected silence while she was talking.   Hill of Tara Our first stop was the Hill of Tara, where the Irish kings were crowned.  There are no buildings left, just a beautiful view of 2/3 of Ireland.  We had to go through a gate that let just one person in at a time, it was designed to keep the sheep out.  There was a church and a cemetery there.

  Hill of Tara view

     As we were leaving Tara, Mary had the bus driver stop the bus and she told the students she would not let them go into Newgrange and would put them off the bus if they did not behave.  The teachers did nothing.  They knew the tour was in English and booked it anyway, but as these were university students, I think they understood a bit of English.  They finally settled down.

     Newgrange was amazing.  It is 500 to 1,000 years older than the pyramids.  The outside was restored, but the inside is just as it was.  Newgrange, the best known Irish passage tomb, is surrounded by a kerb of 97 stones, the most impressive of which is the highly decorated Entrance Stone.  The mound covers a single tomb consisting of a long passage and a cross-shaped chamber.  There are the remains of two smaller tombs immediately to the west of Newgrange and at least one and probably two to the east.  Newgrange was excavated between 1962 and 1975 by Professor M. J. O;Kelly who discovered the Roof Box through which the mid-winter sun penetrates into the chamber.  Based on archaeological evidence, he also designed the reconstruction of the white quartz facade.  You have to duck to get into the tomb and even inside you have to duck at points and go sideways.  I guess there were from 15 to 20 of us inside.  After the guide explained it, she turned out the lights and demonstrated what happens on the winter solstice.  A light comes through the opening over the door and makes a narrow beam of light on the floor.  When you enter, you are going uphill and the floor is even with the window over the door.    They decorated it with swirls and other shapes.  The ceiling was amazing.  It is dome shaped with a flat rock covering the opening (last picture).

Newgrange  Newgrange

NewGrange  NewGrange

While we were waiting for the shuttle to take us back to the Brú na Bóinne visitor center we got caught in a hail and rain shower and got soaked.  Our umbrella was on the tour bus.  The visitor center describes the society that created the Neolithic tombs, their homes, dress, food, tools and weapons.

Newgrange Newgrange

  IMG_0423 

 

Back on the ship, there was a lot going on.  I went to get our passports and Ray went to get a seat in the Princess Theater.  We went to see the Irish Folkloric Show – Gaels Afloat which was a band and dancers.  One of the dancers just won the World Title last week.  One of the guys played the “elbow” bagpipe.  I can’t remember the name of it.  

We then went to Alfredo’s and had a pizza for dinner as it was too late for the dining room.  We then went to see David Copperfield in the Vista.  He is not the illusionist but the “unusualist”, the original all round entertainer from England.  It was a comedy variety show.  He has a wonderful singing voice.  We missed Benjamin & Elodie doing crazy hat acrobatics in the Piazza.  I was tired so went to the room and Ray went to see Siobhan Phillips combining her unique vocals with her warm style of comedy.  We saw her on the Amsterdam.

     Another wonderful day visiting the wonders of the world.  Susan had her fourth surgery in 2 years today and we pray all went well.

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