Marisa and I had the good fortune of being able to spend a little over a week in Ireland this October and it was a fantastic trip. We ate well, stayed at very nice hotels, and saw a number of very cool things.
One stood out to me though: Newgrange (seen above).
I hadn’t heard of Newgrange until I started researching places to visit near Dublin (we only spend one night in Dublin so I figured we should see something on the way out and Newgrange was it, though it is about an hour outside of Dublin). Newgrange is a passage tomb, and they think that neolithic man used it to store the ashes of people and to perform certain rituals on the solstice. In fact, it is constructed in such a way that the chamber inside this massive mound is in complete darkness all year except for the solstice. At dawn the sun slowly creeps up the passage and lights the chamber. You can enter a lottery to actually experience it, though they don’t guarantee a cloud free day!
While we were in Dublin Marisa and I marveled at all the buildings that are older than our country. Living in Philadelphia one gets used to living with history, but visit any European country and you realize just how new to the scene the US is.
All of that pales in comparison to the feeling one gets when you’re standing in a chamber that people created 5,200 years ago.
While we didn’t visit during the solstice, they do simulate it for each tour. You squeeze/crouch your way into the chamber. Gather around with 15 or so folks and the tour guide asks, “Is anyone afraid of the dark?”
She then turns off the lights and you’re in complete darkness, surrounded by tons of dirt and stone and the quiet breathing of a few other people. Slowly, the “sun,” or in this case an LED light, dawns and light edges into the chamber. More and more of it is revealed in the simulated solstice light and you’re transported back 5,000 years. It was quite the experience.
This year has sucked, but it hasn’t been all bad.
I’m writing a post per day for the rest of 2016 talking about some of my favorite things this year. Find the rest of the posts in this series here.