Awoke and commenced the day in brilliant sunshine, that was until we reached our first stop at Hill of Tara. Then it clouded over with just glimpses of sunlight but enough to again show why Ireland is referred to as the Emerald Isle.
The Hill of Tara is an ancient oval site measuring around 320 x 260 metres. The site is outlined by a ditch. The primary earthworks within the site are two linked circular enclosures and a burial mound. There are other mounds within the site but as it has not been mown for some time, the mounds are not clearly visible. I have included a photo of the aerial photo describing the site to give you some perspective of the size, shape and layout of the site. The central mound contains a standing stone used in the crowning of the High Kings of Ireland, The Destiny Stone, which is said to to have screamed when touched by a true king. It is also referred to as a Fertility symbol but I'll leave that to you to imagine. There is also a burial mound containing a short inaccessible passage and a photo shows the celtic or pagan symbols carved on a stone inside the passage. This site is believed to date back to the Neolithic age and was still in use when St Patrick came to the site to convert the locals in the 5th century. St Patrick's church on the site built around 1822 on the site of a previous church of around 1100. Now deconsecrated, the Church of Ireland hold services there on St Patrick's Day.
From Hills of Tara we headed for Trim, the site of Trim Castle, the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland, construction of which commenced in 1176. While the walls are generally still in good condition, the Keep appears quite good and is open for tours. The castle is on the banks of the River Boyne. This caste was used in 1994 in the filming of the movie "Braveheart" where the outside walls was transformed into the city of York and inside the walls was the Tower of London. Other buildings in trim were also used in the film.
On our way to the castle we spied some other ruins and with time to spare, we detoured to have a look and found quite a few different buildings in the one area. The first, as we crossed a very old and single lane bridge was the Priory of St John the Baptist, built around 1281. A little further up the road in a complex dominated by the ruins of the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. First there was a ruin which seems to be the Newtown Clonbun Parish Church. Information seems pretty scarce on this so I can't tell you anything more. The Cathedral itself was built around 1281 and associated with it are other ruins that seem to be either part of a monastery of living quarters.
While there are a lot of other ruins in Trim, that was enough for today and we headed for Dublin being led by a GPS under instruction to avoid toll roads. Where did it go? Straight under the toll gantry so we are now trying to pay a toll to a web site that doesn't seem to care whether you used the road or not, just wants to know how many toll trips you want to pay for; and the web site failed half-way through the transaction so we don't know if it has gone through.
Tomorrow, we tour Dublin.