|We bought a copy of this print by Honor Hales|
depicting the seasons at Newgrange
|Prehistoric Burial Mound at Newgrange|
|Entrance to the Passage Tomb at Newgrange|
|Entrance Stone with Prehistoric Carvings|
|Note the subtle color gradations in Newgrange's stone wall|
|Stone work continues around the back of the Newgrange mound|
|Ancient people decorated the stones around the mound|
|A smaller burial chamber nearby|
|Ruins of other Neolithic structures at Newgrange|
The other large burial mounds at nearby Knowth and Dowth were not open so we returned to the visitor center, where we watched a short film about Newgrange and the solar calendar, and then had lunch at the café (excellent parsnip soup and a five-salad sampler plate). From there, we headed toward another historically significant point in County Meath: the Hill of Tara.
|Hill of Tara|
|A sign identified this mound of grass as Cormac's House—|
obviously not as well preserved as his digs at Cashel and Blarney
|The Lia Fáil (Stone of Destiny) where the High Kings of Ireland were crowned.|
According to legend, the stone would cry aloud to identify the rightful ruler
|We would not have been surprised to learn that Aslan,|
the lion king of Narnia,had been held within this “Mound of the Hostages”
while awaiting his execution by the wicked White Queen
|Ravens were nesting in this tree|
|The Church of St. Patrick on the Hill of Tara|
|Welcome to the Pembroke|
We had reserved tickets for a play at the Gate Theater tonight, so when we had changed our clothes and figured out where we wanted to go for dinner, we got back in the car and drove about seven kilometers across the River Liffey to a parking garage near Parnell Square. On our way, we went up O'Connell Street, a broad boulevard with a landscaped median, lots of monuments, and lots of pedestrians. The street’s most distinctive feature is a gigantic metal spire that sleekly rises from the middle of the median (purpose as yet unknown). Nancy said, “This looks like Dublin’s equivalent of the Champs Elysées.”
Skirting around Parnell Square on foot, we found a row house on the west side with a small sign directing us down the stairs to The Hot Stove. Happily, this very nice but unpretentious restaurant offered a three-course pre-theater special that turned out to be one of the best dining experiences of our trip so far. While we perused the menu, we were treated to an amuse bouche of fennel-stuffed pastry with mushroom coulis, then Michael chose a starter of wild garlic risotto and Nancy the smoked salmon ravioli in a bowl of fennel soup. Even though Nancy isn’t terribly fond of smoked salmon, the ravioli was such a nice complement to the soup that she actually ate every square instead of tasting one and giving the rest to Michael as planned. For the main, Michael enjoyed the pheasant en croute with apple stuffing, while Nancy relished her “bacon” (more like cured pork brisket than the fatty strips we call bacon) with cabbage, colcannon (a traditional Irish dish made with mashed potatoes, chopped kale, and scallions) and parsley sauce. Michael’s dessert included separate dollops of chocolate and white chocolate mousse served with a tasty granola bar (definitely not the kind that comes out of a box); Nancy had passion fruit créme with crushed meringue and macadamia nuts.
The story of The Caretaker involves two brothers, the younger a brusque man of business, the older a sensitive savant with severe psychological problems. One night the laconic older brother, who lives in the dumpy garret of an apartment building owned by the younger, invites a garrulous homeless man to come in out of the cold. When the younger brother finds the vagrant still living there weeks later, emotional mayhem ensues. The audience is never quite sure which of the characters has the best grasp of reality, or whether the “care” any of them takes for any of the others is meant to be cruel or kind—or both at once. The drama ends basically at the same place it began, leaving viewers feeling much like readers of a typical “slice of life” story in the New Yorker—shaking their heads and wondering what it all meant. Nancy loved it; Michael not so much. For him, it was too depressing after the edifying, truly awesome experiences we had had at Newgrange and the Hill of Tara.
Michael found the interval a much more intriguing cultural experience than the play itself: most patrons were at the bar, not drinking alcohol, but drinking coffee from real china cups on real china saucers—no Styrofoam or insulated cardboard cups in sight. He also had been impressed with the unusual courtesy of the man who welcomed the audience before the play began. Besides asking everyone to silence their cell phones and other noisemaking devices (which some incredibly inconsiderate person still neglected to do), he explained that the adjacent parking garage closed promptly at 11:00 and advised anyone who had left their car there not to dawdle after the show. He also mentioned that the garage’s payment machines did not accept credit cards or make change, so if anyone was in need of the proper coinage, they should see a member of the theater staff during the interval to obtain it.