We got an early start this morning. We had prepaid for the car parking and on Wednesday we entered an hour early, as mentioned in previous post, so we needed to check out an hour earlier so we could avoid any extra fees. This meant we had to be packed, ready, and leaving the car garage at 7am! So we set our alarms for 5:50am. We planned for our early morning last night by stopping by a Tesco and buying some chocolate muffins and milk for the kids and fruit and yogurt for us for breakfast. This cost us 9.17 Euro and saved us a lot of time and frustration this morning for breakfast.
Our First Real Irish Castle
We headed out about 10 minutes north of Dublin to Malahide Castle. Now this is what I picture when I think of castles! The castle is magnificent and is surrounded by 268 acres of land including gardens and woods. The castle was home to the Talbot family for almost 800 years! We arrived before 8am and decided to walk around waiting for the castle to open at 9:30am. We had many family “discussions” in regards to reading the map and finding the closest toilet. Let’s just say I am not the only one with map reading issues. We had a marvelous tour guide named Brownwyn. She really made the tour enjoyable by interacting with the kids and telling them lots of interesting facts.
Hill of Tara in Ireland
After grabbing some gourmet goodies and coffee (finally) for 12.05 Euro we headed North again towards the Hill of Tara in Meath County. We saw a horse eating grass from the medians of one of the roundabouts while on our way- he didn’t seem to notice us or any of the other cars.
The Hill of Tara is one of the most famous archaeological sites in Ireland and the tombs date back to 3500Bc. It was an area where religious ceremonies were held, mostly pagan, and also a cemetery dating from the Neolithic period to the Iron Age. The Stone of Destiny is said to “cry out” when the rightful “king of Tara” would place his hand or bare foot on the stone as a symbol that the Gods chose him as king. There were 13 mounds identified on the Hill of Tara, but as you can tell there has been some settling of the ground, treasure hunters destroying the grounds, and some excavation to discover the ruins. One of these treasure hunting groups were looking for the “Arc of the Covenant.” The kids really enjoyed running around in the grass and walking around the site exploring the grounds.
We enjoyed a delicious snack at the cafe at the Hill of Tara costing us 8.50 Euros. We shared a cup of vegetable soup with bread and a chicken and brie pannini. It was just enough to get us going again.
Bru Na Boinne on the Cheap
Next, we drove to Bru na Boinne, meaning palace of the Boyne, which was about a 10 minute drive. This is an area of prehistoric passage tombs of Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth. We started the tour at the visitor center where we watched a movie about the sites and the discoveries, looked at the exhibitions of the life of those that built the Neolithic tombs, or “passages” into the afterlife, and learned of megalithic art. To be honest, the kids watched the movie and ran through the rest of the museum looking at the displays without reading any of the material. We then took a bus to the sites where a guide was waiting for us. We got to go in one of the passage tombs at Knowth and Newgrange, and this seemed to be, of no surprise, one of the kids favorite parts.
Making the Trip to Belfast to our AirBnB
After finishing the tours and making it back to the car we headed for our AirBnB in Belfast, about a 1-1/2 hour drive north. We crossed into Northern Island which is part of the United Kingdom, so currency is now the pound and the speed limit signs are in mph (too bad the car’s speedometer is marked in kmph). We went through some tolls on our route as well. One took our credit card costing 1.40 Euro, but the other would only take pounds or euro…which we don’t have because we didn’t exchange our money-whoops! So he charged us $3 USD, the original cost was 1.90 Euro…so we were charged extra-oh well. By now my husband is getting the hang of driving on the left and taking the roundabouts with ease :-). We settled into the apartment and walked to a local Chinese/Japanese restaurant for dinner (30.10 pounds). I know – we’re in England why are we eating Asian food? I’m not sure. All I can say is it was my husband’s choice. :/
Our explorations today would have cost us 36 Euro, but we purchased the Heritage card in Dublin so those tour costs were covered. Tomorrow we are going to sleep in a bit and tour around Belfast.