Our Ireland holiday is starting to recede into memory, so I am keen to share some more recaps while the details are relatively fresh. Today's post takes in three separate places, two of which (Newgrange and Trim) could be done together on one day, as we did, and all of which could be done as day trips from Dublin. From Dublin, Newgrange is a 50 minute drive north, Trim a 50 minute drive north-west, and the Wicklow mountains a 70 minute drive south.
|Newgrange passage tomb from afar|
Newgrange is part of the Brú na Bóinne world heritage site, which contains three prehistoric passage tombs. Newgrange is one of them, and the only passage tomb you can enter inside. The construction of the tombs is thought to have commenced around 3300BC and they are older than the Egyptian pyramids as well as England's Stonehenge. They also contain the largest collection of megalithic art in Western Europe.
|Entrance to the Newgrange tomb|
To see the passage tombs you need to take a tour from the Brú na Bóinne visitor's centre. Shuttle buses take groups out to the Newgrange site, where you join a guided tour that explains the history of the area and allows you to enter the tomb (no photos are permitted within). We found the visitor's centre and tours to be well set up, and also very reasonably priced at €6.00 (£4.50 or $6.50) per adult. It is definitely something to put on your Ireland itinerary if you can.
We went from Newgrange to the small town of Trim, where Trim castle dominates the landscape beautifully. Mr Bite and I are very fond of castles and especially fond of ones that you can clamber on. The keep at Trim castle is intact (and only accessible by tour) but the exterior walls are semi-ruined and perfect for climbing and exploring.
|Trim castle keep|
We arrived with over an hour until the next tour of the castle keep and so we didn't do that. However, we easily filled half an hour wandering the sunny castle grounds. If you were so inclined, there are walk trails and picnic areas around the castle too. It costs €2.00 to enter the castle grounds and another €2.00 to tour the keep.
The Wicklow mountains are to the south of Dublin and include Powerscourt waterfall, Powerscourt gardens, and the old monastic town of Glendalough. The drive through the area is also renowned for being scenic.
We drove through the area en route south and I thought Powerscourt waterfall would be a brief scenic stopping point mid-morning. It proved to be that, but we were very taken aback by the price to drive in and see it: €5.50 each (yes, nearly the same as the guided tour of Newgrange!). I had expected it to be free and whilst the waterfall was pleasant, it was definitely not worth that price. If we hadn't driven down a steep, narrow winding road to reach it then I suspect we would have left without paying, but as it is we learnt a lesson about checking prices before visiting natural attractions.
The waterfall is the tallest in Ireland but having seen shorter more impressive ones later in our trip, I can say it isn't the most attractive. It is set in a large area with picnic tables, walking trails and a children's playground, so perhaps as an all-day family outing the admission would seem more reasonable.
|Wicklow mountains driving|
The Powerscourt gardens have a separate entrance fee and deserve more time than we could give them, but I suspect they are a little better in terms of value for money.
Fortunately Glendalough made up for the overpriced waterfall. This early Christian monastic settlement was founded in the 6th century and many of the buildings remain intact. It is also set in a scenic position between two lakes and backing up against mountains. Happily, it is free to wander.
|Glendalough cemetary and round tower|
Trim castle is managed by Heritage Ireland and is open daily from mid-March to late October, and on weekends for the rest of the year. Details are at http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/midlandseastcoast/TrimCastle/ .
Glendalough is located within the Wicklow mountains national park and details are available at http://www.glendalough.ie/ . Note that you do not need to take a tour to see the site.
Have you visited anywhere recently that has seemed particularly good or poor value for money?