Emerald Isle

Newgrange

Older than Stonehenge and the great pyramids of Giza stands Newgrange, the heart of legends and mysteries stretching back five thousand years. Situated along the river Boyne near to numerous other such places like Knowth and Dowth, that very same river where Fionn Mac Cumhaill was said to have first found and tasted the salmon of knowledge, and the Daga Mor, king of the Tuatha de Dannan, made his home here for a while. The Irish hero Cu Chulainn was even rumoured to have been conceived in a dream there!

It is deeply interwoven through Irish myths and tales, being "three times fifty sons of kings abode for three days with their three nights", and said to have been the stronghold to which Aengus brought the body of Diarmaid after his death so that he could "put a wind-borne life into him so that he will talk to me every day." Lugh son of Dagda is also reputed to have been buried here.

Weighing almost a quarter of a million tons and covering more than an acre, at the heart of twelve standing stones, the water-rolled stones of Newgrange were taken from the nearby river, but they sit behind white quartz from Wicklow and round granite from the Mourne mountains. And its passages are still waterproof today! They don't build them like that anymore. Scholars once thought the place a tomb but have since changed thei opinions, believing it to be much more - a temple to ancient gods, from which the stars were studied and where ceremonies were held.

The most remarkable sight to be seen at Newgrange comes during the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, when the light and warmth of the sun is at its lowest ebb. Archaeologists were baffled as to the purpose of the passage above the main entryway to Newgrange, although local people had spoken of the solstice wonder since time out of mind, until by chance they happened to see what occurred as the sun rose on that day.

A slender beam of light shines through, scarce even a ray, which rises and widens to fill the whole of the chamber within, lighting it brightly for those fortunate enough to see it! And after that the days lengthened and the sun returned to Ireland, bringing with it the promise of renewed life for man and beast, and perhaps even for the dead. It can still be seen to this day, although the demand is so great that there's a lottery held to see who views it on any given year. Once a pyramidal stone stood at its heart, according to earlier excavators, but that has since vanished.

From its mythical history to its present day glory, a visit to Newgrange is a must for anyone coming to Ireland!

Newgrange can be found on the map below. If you'd like to visit you can find a good list of hotels, B&Bs and other accommodation here. While you're enjoying this site you might also enjoy a little Celtic and Irish music to set the mood, or just the one or two songs if you're not interested in the whole albums. Don't forget you can get some very nice Irish jewelry for yourself or someone else as well, or for the craftier maybe make your own!

This amazing and detailed book about Newgrange here is a great read and guide.


Legendary Places in Ireland

Oweynagat

In county Roscommon there's a place of great antiquity called Oweynagat, which some have mistakenly thought to mean the Cave of Cats, although it has nothing to do with cats - “cath” being the Irish word for “battle” and so it should rightfully be called the battle cave. Indeed it has a long association with the Morrigan ... [more]

The Burren

The Burren is one of the wonders of Ireland. A rolling rocky landscape of limestone hills and plains, it is marked with history stretching back thousands of years. Nestled in between the limestone slabs are herbs and plants you'd be hard pressed to find elsewhere, hailing from places as far afield as the Arctic and the Mediterranean, kept warm ... [more]

Newgrange

Older than Stonehenge and the great pyramids of Giza stands Newgrange, the heart of legends and mysteries stretching back five thousand years. Situated along the river Boyne near to numerous other such places like Knowth and Dowth, that very same river where Fionn Mac Cumhaill was said to have first found and tasted the salmon of knowledge, and the ... [more]

Hill of Tara

The seat of the High Kings of Ireland of old, Tara or Temair as it was known then, is said to have been the seat of a hundred and forty two kings, kingships won by battle, contest and merit, not passed down father to son as in more primitive cultures. One of the most important monuments in the sacred Boyne valley, its history stretches back four th ... [more]

Dun Aengus

Dun Aengus means "the Fort of Aenghus", and remains one of the most impressive ancient monuments in Ireland, Europe or the world. Perched on the edge of a high and jagged cliff with the grey-green waters of the Atlantic battering below, it gained its name from its original builders, who were called the Fir Bolg, some of the first to arriv ... [more]

Crannogs

Crannogs, the name meaning "young trees" for reasons which aren't too clear, were dwelling places for people in Ireland from the time of the Tuatha de Dannan right up to the seventeenth century. They were built on shallow lakes or pools on top of tree trunks stuck into the lake bottom, piles of rocks, mud and other debris or on natura ... [more]

Croagh Patrick

Croagh Patrick or Patrick's Stack is an important place of pilgrimage for Christians throughout Ireland and the world today, some even walking the ascent in their bare feet as penance for their sins. However it was considered a holy place long before St Patrick came to visit, even though it is said he banished the snakes from Ireland while stan ... [more]

Skellig Michael

Rising from the ocean a short distance off the coast of county Kerry in southern Ireland, Skellig Michael and its smaller brother rear up out of the Atlantic ocean like jagged grey teeth. Famous poet George Bernard Shaw who visited the place in 1910, called it an "incredible, impossible, mad place" and "part of our dream world". ... [more]