A tour of mystical, mythological Ireland
Take a tour through Irish ancient myth
Engravings within the tomb are thought to represent the sun, moon or stars as religious symbols, and one of the stones may have been used as a prehistoric calendar.
Access to the Hill of Tara is free, but if you want to hear a bit more background on the site, take a guided tour through the visitor center.
Tara is now under threat due to the construction of the M3 highway. Protestors are hard at work to save Tara: the Hill of Tara was included in the World’s Monument Fund 2008 Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the world, and there is a letter writing campaign in the works in order to preserve the site.
Hill Of Slane
According to myth, the impressive Hill of Slane is the burial place of King Sláine, the king of the Fir Bolg (an ancient people of Ireland).
In more recent Christian history, the hill is also the site where Patrick lit the divine Paschal Fire in defiance of the pagan kings at Tara. Church ruins lie atop the hill, and the site remains a popular destination for Christians.
The Hill of Slane is accessible at all times, and there is no entry fee.
Stop 2: Loughcrew Oldcastle, Co. Meath
Loughcrew, also called “The Storied Hills” or “Mountain of the Witch,” is one of Ireland’s major passage tomb sites (the others are Bru na Boinne, Carrowkeel and Carrowmore), all believed to date back to around 3200 B.C. The site is made up of clusters of cairns (manmade, pyramid-like stone piles) around hills.
The winter solstice at Newgrange is well known, but the lesser-known Equinox illumination at sunrise occurs at Loughcrew. The backstone of the chamber is illuminated by a beam of light at sunrise on the Spring and Autumnal Equinoxes.
Myth says that the monuments of Loughcrew were created by a witch flying overhead who dropped large stones from her apron.
Admission to the site is free, but be aware that the climb to Loughcrew is quite steep.
Stop 3: Navan Fort & The King’s Stables Armagh, Co. Armagh
Navan Fort is a historical royal fortress on Killylea Road in Co. Armagh. The ancient monument was a stronghold of the kings of Ulster around 700 B.C. The Fort was the center of King Conchobor mac Nessa and his Red Branch Knights.
Navan Fort is surrounded by a bank with a ditch inside, suggesting that it was a ceremonial, rather than defensive, site.
It is said that the great Irish mythical hero Cuchulainn spent much of his youth in Navan Fort before single-handedly facing the army of the mythical Queen Maeve.