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Newgrange

Knowth

Hill Of Tara

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Newgrange Spiral

Sunrise

Angel Of Tara

Light At Newgrange

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Goddess Boann

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Faery Tree

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Newgrange was constructed over 5,000 years ago (about 3,200 B.C.), making it older Stonehenge in England and the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. It was built during the Neolithic or New Stone Age by a farming community that prospered on the rich lands of the Boyne Valley. Knowth and Dowth are similar mounds that together with Newgrange have been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Archaeologists classified Newgrange as a passage tomb, though now recognised to be much more than a passage tomb and a more fitting classification would be as a temple, a place of astrological, spiritual, religious and ceremonial importance. The large kidney shaped mound of Newgrange covers an area of over one acre and retained at the base by 97 kerbstones, some richly decorated with megalithic art.

 Newgrange is best known for the illumination of its 19 metre long inner passage and chamber by the winter solstice sun. Above the entrance to the passage at Newgrange there is a opening called a roof-box, its purpose is to allow sunlight to penetrate the cruciform chamber within on the shortest day. December 21 st, the winter solstice. Newgrange is part of a complex of monuments built along a bend of the River Boyne known collectively as Bru na Boinne. The other two principal monuments are Knowth (the largest) and Dowth, but throughout the region there are as many as 35 smaller mounds. Irish folklore is wealthy in swan myths, the Children of Lir being the most famous. Aengus and Newgrange are at the centre of another great swan legend. Aengus falls in love with a girl named Caer whom he sees in a dream. He searches all of Ireland for a year to find her but to no avail. When Aengus finally finds her she is chained up with 150 other girls. Aengus is informed that on every other Samhain (November 1) all the girls turn into swans for a year. Aengus is told that if he can identify her as a swan she will be granted to him. Aengus calls out to the swan Caer and goes to her in the lake. Upon placing his hands on her he himself is transformed into a swan. The legend says that they flew together to Brú na Bóinne where they serenaded the dwellers of the tombs with their singing.

The Hill of Tara, known as Temair in gaeilge. an interpretation of the name Tara says that it means a “place of great prospect”, in ancient Irish religion and mythology Temair was the sacred place of dwelling for the gods, and was the entrance to the otherworld. The earliest settlement at the site was in the Neolithic, and the Mound of the Hostages was constructed in or around 2500BC a decorated stone can be viewed from the entrance gate and the engravings may represent the sun, moon or stars as religious symbols and also used as a prehistoric calendar. The tomb gets its name from the custom of Irish kings taking important people hostage, one of these kings was known as Niall of the Nine Hostages who had taken hostages from all of the provinces of Ireland and from other countries. Tara was according to tradition the seat of Ard Ri na hEireann, the pre-Christian High King of Ireland, the ancient seat of power in Ireland - 142 kings are said to have reigned there in prehistoric and historic times. The most famous of these was Cormac Mac Airt who reigned in the third century AD. One of the ring forts within the large hill fort known as the Royal Enclosure is known as Cormac’s House. The other ring fort known as the King’s Seat may actually be constructed around a prehistoric tomb.

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