The history of Monasterboice succinctly described on the plaque at the entrance doesn’t due justice to the feeling of this ancient Irish site.
We drove to Monasterboice as a first stop from Skerries on the way to Trim where we were spending several nights. Monasterboice is a very beautiful place. The site is encircled by a stone wall and the beautiful stonework inside the wall is shaded by large trees. You can see out over the valley below from one side of the site.
Monasterboice holds three of Ireland’s most famous High Crosses. These were constructed about the 10th Century and the intricate carvings depicting scenes from the Bible have remained remarkably intact over the centuries. They think that the crosses were originally painted and would have been very colorful. http://www.megalithicireland.com
This site has a good explanation of the high crosses. There is also a round tower located amongst the graves.
The Round Tower stands about 110 feet high even without its top. In 1097 the tower was destroyed in a fire and all it’s books and treasures presumed lost. Round towers are found all over Ireland but only 2 can be climbed. (More on that in a later post)
The access to Monasterboice is via very narrow Irish local roads. There is a parking lot very close to the site so access is pretty easy. We were there on a cloudy day but had the place to ourselves early in the morning.
Our next stop was Mellifont Abbey, not far from Monasterboice. Mellifont Abbey replaced Monasterboice in importance around the 12th Century so it was a logical next stop.
Mellifont Abbey is a collection of ruins as you can see in the picture. However, using our Heritage Pass which gave us free entrance we were able to also get a guided tour of the site. The guide makes you see the abbey as it once was. The daily routine of the monks who once lived here came alive through her stories. Mellifont is the first Cistercian Abbey built in Ireland and was consecrated in 1157. Thirteen years later there were 500 Cistercian Monks in Ireland and 7 daughter abbeys had been founded. The Lavabo is seen in the picture above.
The guided tour also gives you access to the chapel, an intact building on the site. It is quite moving to see the simplicity of the architecture as the ceiling soars above you in the small chapel.
There is also an interesting little museum on site that explains some of the stone carvings and architectural pieces that would have been part of the original buildings.
The weather was clearing and it was still early in the day so we headed to The Battle of the Boyne. Thank goodness for GPS. Irish roads are really interesting to navigate. You really need a GPS, a map book, like Collins Ireland, and some Irish luck to arrive at your destination.
This is a fun stop for children and adults. It boasts costumed re enactors, great multimedia explanations, artisan craftsmen, lots of walks, cafe and beautiful gardens. This is a lovely spot on a sunny day.
The Battle of the Boyne was, in simplest terms, a battle between the Protestant King William and the Catholic, King James. Each King led their own forces. Ultimately William was victorious. About 1500 soldiers were killed. The outcome had a profound effect on Ireland.
There is great attention to detail in all of the demonstrations given at The Battle of the Boyne. Costumes are super and the re enactors will answer any questions you might have.
After exploring the house and viewing some of the demonstrations we were ready for a sit down at the cafe on site. The cafe is quite nice and overlooks the formal gardens for a lovely view while you eat. Bubbles, pictured right, is the resident cat and joined us for Tea. She sat in a chair and had quite lovely manners as we shared a few bits with her.
After Tea we continued to Trim where we stayed at the Trim Castle Hotel for the next 4 nights. Had drinks and dinner at the hotel and headed to bed. It was raining by this time. Ireland is definitely a place where you can experience all kinds of weather in one day.