Dublin Travel Blog› entry 30 of 35 › view all entries
We stayed at the Dublin International Youth Hostel, which is an old nunnery/school/chapel. The dining room is in the old chapel, so it's really cool - high ceilings & stained glass etc.
We arrived all hot & sweaty, but I basically had a quick change and out to meet Cathy (who I used to work with in London) & her friend Nathan. (Mum quietly collapsed, feeling that the walk from boat to train, train to bus, bus to hostel was enough for her for quite some time).
It was fab to see Cathy & Nathan again (and a little time apart probably did both Mum & I good).
Hen's nights are huge here - more of a hen's weekend really - people from England often go away for the weekend to Dublin or Edinburgh, dress up in matching specially-printed team t-shirts, and usually wear hideous pink cowboy hats… it all seems a little over the top (and note to everyone out there: if anyone ever asks me to wear a pink cowboy hat, that's the end of our friendship).
Eventually got back to the hostel around 2am, but still up bright and early in the morning and Mum & I went off to explore Dublin by daylight.
This morning we popped into the National Library (Mum = more family history work, me = looking at the WB Yeats exhibition, very interesting). Then headed out of Dublin and stopped at Newgrange, which Matt & Julia had told us about (and we realised later that it was mentioned on basically every page of the intro/highlights section of our guidebook).
It's an area just north-west of Dublin where there are heaps of neolithic/megalithic passage tombs. Newgrange is the most famous, and it's basically just a small hill/mound with a stone entrance that leads into a tiny passage (you have to crouch & walk sideways through various bits) which leads into a small chamber towards the middle of the hill. There were little recesses where ashes would have been laid in the tomb, and lots of carvings (some ancient, some graffiti from the 1800s).
The really cool thing, and why it's quite famous, is that there's a sort of window box above the entrance and at sunrise at the winter solstice, the sun shines straight through the box and lights up the entire passage and into the chamber. We had this demonstrated to us with lights, but obviously it would be extremely impressive with actual sun (there's a lottery for tickets to it - something like 300,000 people enter & only 50 names are drawn). It's just bizarre to think that people 5000 years ago spent so much time & effort getting the calculations exactly right for that to happen.