Ireland & England · Travel

Day 8 – Navan

We started this day with pancakes (crepes) for breakfast–delicious! I was good to vary away from the full Traditional Irish breakfast for once!

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Our first rainy day on the trip!

Lin spied a church and cemetery on his side of the road in the small town of Tulsk which ended up being the Tulsk Dominican Priory.

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The Tulsk Dominican Priory

The Tulsk Dominican Priory on our rainy day! Thanks for making us stop!

I looked to my side of the street and saw a Heritage Center, so we took pictures and then went into the Center–what a find it was!

We met the manager of the center, Daniel Curley, and he encouraged us to go through the center and then join him on a tour of Rothcroghan ruins. Unknowingly, we had just passed the ruin driving into Tulsk.

The displays were very informative and gave background information for the tour. It also had a great video.

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Lin donned the helmet

Lin donned the helmet and experienced the displays to the max.

Afterwards, we retraced our journey a few miles, following Daniel–we were the only takers for the tour on that damp day.

The Rothcroghan complex is one of the five royal sites of Ireland with many references found in early Irish medieval manuscripts.

Daniel stood in the rain and shared his visual aides (in plastic sleeves) with us. His passion for the site and the tale were evident. He went into great detail sharing “The Tain” from the Irish epic, “Tain Bo Cuailnge.” The display behind him in the picture below shows the path of the tale.

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Daniel Curley, our tour guide

Daniel Curley, our tour guide, shared his knowledge in the rain–before he put on his rain gear!

When it really started pouring, Daniel excused himself and put on his rain coat and pants. I wondered why they were so muddy, but I didn’t ask.

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The actual Rothcroghan ruin

The actual Rothcroghan ruin was never excavated physically but with geophysical survey. “Scientists from the National University of Ireland, Galway, have taken nearly 150,000 magnetic gradiometry readings in the 30 acres around the great mound.” (https://archive.archaeology.org/online/news/ireland.html)

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A replica of Rathcroghan
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Sheep Pasture around Rathcroghan

On our trek up to the top of Rathcroghan we were in a sheep pasture and had to hopscotch over sheep droppings. When we finally got to the top, the rain and wind let loose, so we didn’t stay long.

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Oweynagat or Cave of the Cats

Our next stop was Oweynagat or Cave of the Cats–the entrance to hell in Irish mythology.  The rain continued; Daniel continued his lecture telling us people can go down into the cave. I asked how and he said, “Slide down into it.” Now I know why his rain gear was muddy–thank God our tour didn’t include sliding down into the cave.

In passing conversation we told Daniel about visiting a Bog village when we toured the Ring of Kerry. His eyes lit up and he told us that a bog man was found on his farm and that it was in the Archaeology museum in Dublin. I made a note of that.

I have never been so wet in my life!

We returned to the Heritage Center and warmed up with tea and scones.

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Trim Castle

Daniel suggested we change our itinerary and not go to Newgrange and Brú na Bóinne,  prehistoric sites since we had stopped at Rathcroghan and received so much information there. He suggested we stop at Trim Castle on our way to Navan to see a castle, so we did! This is where they filmed Brave Heart. We did a tour of the castle and our guide was delightful. The stone stairway was circular and steep, but it was fascinating. When we topped out on top of the castle we went outside, and the rain poured again.

We made it to Navan that evening in good time to our hotel, Newgrange Hotel. It was gorgeous. We had a delicious dinner and I spent the evening drying my tennis shoes with a hair dryer. I had only one pair of tennis shoes with me for the trip, so I needed the dry for the next day!

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My shoes before I thought of using a hair dryer.

Of all our days on the trip, this day stood out as the serendipitious adventure of a lifetime–Rothcroghan wasn’t on our itinerary. It just happened, and I became one of the highlights of the trip!

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