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Arts Festival in Drogheda by Ann Treacy
May 4, 2008, 11:27 am
Filed under: Boyne Valley

On Saturday we went to Drogheda. It’s about 30 minutes north of Dublin on the road to Belfast. (Well it’s 30 minutes on the fast bus, but on a Saturday it’s really only 45 minutes on a slow bus. We had the opportunity to check one on the way there and one of the way back.)

Drogheda was chartered in 1194 and is known as the Gateway to the Boyne Valley. (Yup, that name is familiar and it is the place of the Battle of the Boyne.) New Grange is in the Boyne Valley. There used to be a great wall surrounding the city – six feet wide at the bottom, 2 feet wide at the top. Naturally I can’t remember how high it was.

Back to the day… We actually were going specifically for the Drogheda Arts Festival. Well, that and I’ve wanted to visit since we passed Drogheda on our way to Belfast.

Taking the bus was very painless. We got into town and headed to lunch where we had the worst hamburgers ever. We walked by St Mary’s Church to get there – and Patrick remembered that in the church was the head of Oliver Plunkett. (I hope the picture turns out.) So, naturally we had to go see that. It was creepy in a cool way. Patrick, who is nightmare-inducing told the girls that his eyes open once a year. So I spent the next hours asking them if they really through that a head that has been dead since 1680 or so would really be winking at them.

Just a quick tie in while I’m talking about morose topics – Oliver Plunkett was hanged at the Tyburn in London. We saw it while we were there and we learned that the term hangover comes from the Tyburn. They used to do a lot of hangings there. People used to party around the hangings and the next day would talk about the hangover.

Back to Drogheda … we walked around and you could see how old certain parts of the city were –especially wall remnants and churches. Finally we found the art festival. There were lost of booths, a jumpy castle thing, a band, jugglers, and lost of action like that. It was very nice. There was an 80s band playing – and I have to say that I prefer the Irish version than the American as there are fewer power ballads and more Madness and the Undertones.

So we hung out there and then decided to walk down the river to the Martello tower. The river is nice and they have built up a lot of shopping areas. Then we trekked up the hill to the tower. We were a day late for the festival to have moved there (as today they are having a lot of reenactment stuff) but we knew that. But I have to say that the staff who were there were super kind to show us around – despite the fact that I’m sure they had a billion things to do for today.

They showed us these great silk tapestry type things. They were actually union banners – but there were beautiful. They are painted with designs to match whatever union/industry they represent. They are painted on both sides. One had an Adam and Eve scene on the back and you could see that originally they had been naked that (upon the church’s behest) someone had painted clothes on them.

The coolest part was touring the tower. It had actually been bombed in 1922 – but was repaired 8 years ago. The view was amazed – but inside the tower was cool too. Two floors were above ground, one was below. The fire exit on the lowest floor led into a secret passage back to the site. The guide told me that there are loads of secret passages in the tower and the barracks.

So pretty much, that was our day in Drogheda. We had a great time!

Sunday at Knowth by Ann Treacy
October 15, 2007, 5:18 pm
Filed under: Boyne Valley

We started the day with lunch at Slane – about 30 minutes north of Dublin.

Then we went to New Grange – unfortunately New Grange was sold out, which came as quite a surprise to us since last time we went to New Grange going there just meant parking in the lot near the structure and walking around.

New Grange is an ancient, mystic burial mound. Now there is a huge visitor center near New Grange, Knowth, and Dowth. You can only see the areas on a guided tour. So we were disappointed – but once we started looking around we didn’t mind at all.

Knowth is the site of one large passage tomb (1.5 acres at the op) and 18 smaller tombs. The tombs are 5000 years old. They were built in the Neolithic period. They are amazing!

They were built in the Boyne Valley – which is a beautifully lush area. There raise a lot of cattle and horses in the area. The Knowth area looks like Telly Tubby land. Around the base of the main tomb are huge rocks with art chipped into them. Some of the drawings are very intricate. The rocks were set up so that on the spring and autumn equinox the sun would shine right in – but later civilization built sous terrains around the edge of the tomb (for storage and protection) and that threw off the measurements.

We got to go into large tomb. The guide we had was very good. She started by telling us that we should stick to the paths. Then 5 minutes later she asked us to follow her – off the path. Naturally we all balked – thinking maybe it was a test. She explained that the path comment was really just for show – we could all walk wherever.

Sunday Night

I met up with Sheila and we hit just about every pub in the City Centre. But we wisely drank only half pints so the damage wasn’t too bad.


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