A Series of Fortunate Events

Travel around this island nation reveals many beautiful sights and historic features, from 5000-year-old tombs to modern signs of the struggle for independence. An even more wonderful experience, though, is to meet the Irish people.

The real treasure of Ireland is its people. 

In our rambles around Drogheda we stumbled across the local Labour Party headquarters. In the window was a wonderful, humorous poster of Michael D Higgins, the current president of Ireland, who is running for a second term. We heard a moving speech by Michael D while attending the celebration of the Easter Rising two and a half years ago. We became supporters of Michael D that day.

Labor Party poster: “Re-elect Michael D as an Uachtaran [President of Ireland]”

Note: Ireland separates the roles of head of government (an Taoiseach), deputy head of government (an Tanaiste) and head of state (an Uachtaran).

As we debated going inside to see if we could buy a poster the door was thrown open by a worker welcoming us. He had seen us clustered around the window and offered us a poster. Wow! Score! After an interesting conversation with him the next step was how do we get the poster home unscathed. So, we set off to buy supplies to mail it home. The best part of an hour or two was spent procuring 2 small tubes we could tape together, parcel paper and tape.

Next we decided to head to the TI (Tourist Information) to find a counter to work on. The two women sitting at desks in the TI, Caroline and Carolan, graciously offered to clear one of their desk tops for us to work on and supplied scissors for the job. As we worked in fashioning a mailing tube our conversation ranged over the local, rich history, current politics, the Irish language and, of course, the weather.

Even with the poster safely packed we continued our conversation. When our two new friends heard that we both claim Irish heritage they insisted we buy some Halloween brac saying it was in our blood. So we headed to the Tesco across the street and bought some Halloween brac. Brac is a raisin bread and a seasonal Samhain treat. 

The next morning at breakfast we cut into the brac. Delicious. On my second piece I discovered a small wax paper wrapped package. It contained a golden ring. The prize! 

The ring is now a treasured possession reminding me of my Irish roots and the warm-hearted, fun-loving people it has been a privileged to meet and talk with.

Slainte! Slan go foill!

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Great Grandfather’s Childhood Home

The lovely town of Drogheda has been mentioned in the lore of the Irish branch of Clan Obendorfer as the childhood home of our great grandfather Henry Wilson. He wasn’t a resident for too many years as we have documents indicating he enlisted in the British army at age 13.

Drogheda has many centuries of history. The nearby Cistercian abbey was the first in Ireland. Before the Christians, ancient peoples lived, farmed and built monuments predating the Egyptian pyramids (see Newgrange and Knowth post). Oliver Cromwell trampled the area. The Battle of the Boyne was fought in 1690 between James II and Prince William of Orange establishing Protestant rural of the region.

Sláinte. Slán go fóill!

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Are you enjoying these posts? — Go here to see more pictures and read our blog posts from two previous visits to Ireland and Scotland, in 2013 and 2016.

(http://kandmindublin.blogspot.com/)

Blackberries at Knowth

The Bru na Boinne archaeological site lies about 50 miles north of Dublin, in the Boyne River Valley and next to Ireland’s largest town, Drogheda. We thought that could not be right but have since learned the Irish make a clear distinction between town and city. Dublin, of course, being the largest city. The Boyne Valley contains several dozen ancient burial mounds and the ruling seat of Irish kings, the Hill of Tara.

While Tara today is little more than a smooth grassy hill, Bru na Boinne comprises three huge “passage graves,” named Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth. The best known of these is Newgrange, which was rediscovered in the 1960s after millennia of ‘hiding in plain sight’ and explored and restored in 1962-1975. Visitors on guided tours can traverse a narrow path to the central chamber to see various features and experience total darkness. Guides, using a flashlight in the pitch black interior simulate the sight the ancient people at Newgrange saw at sunrise on the Winter Solstice.

Larger but less-known Knowth has two inner chambers and is surrounded by a dozen small passage graves and “kerbstones” decorated with pictographs.

Dowth is the least explored site and is rarely open for public tours.

We were blessed with a gorgeous sunny day for our explorations of Newgrange and Knowth. The sun shining on the quartz-lined walls of Newgrange was spectacular.

The entrance to Newgrange passage grave is the lower dark hole. At the Winter Solstice light from the rising sun shines through the upper hole and illuminates the passage all the way to its central chamber.

Massive “kerbstones” surround much of the Newgrange mound, which occupies an acre.

More Newgrange features and surrounding Boyne Valley countryside.

Below are views of Knowth.

The 1 1/2 acre bulk of Knowth passage grave. This grave has east- and west-facing passages aligned to indicate the arrival of the spring and autumn equinoxes. Knowth’s sides are lined with 52 kerbstones, most of which contain megalithic pictograph art.

All four of us agreed that Knowth is truly magical. We were fortunate to be the only four on the 1:45pm tour of Knowth. Our guide, Jackie, gave us a brief history and answered our questions then turned us loose to explore on our own. Unbelievable!

Jackie is a local and her love, enthusiasm, and appreciation of Knowth fired our imaginations too.

Even magic eventually comes to and end so we boarded the bus to return to the Visitor’s Center. Another local, Callum, greeted us as we boarded the bus with freshly picked blackberries to enjoy on the drive back while he described his childhood playing cowboys and Indians on the mounds of Knowth.

Slán go fóill!

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Are you enjoying these posts? — Go here to see more pictures and read our blog posts from two previous visits to Ireland and Scotland, in 2013 and 2016.

(http://kandmindublin.blogspot.com/)