Bective, Bru na Boinne (Newgrange), Ciaran's Well, Dowth, Loughcrew
We held Monday meditations in the Mill building until a fire destroyed the inside rooms in 2019. The Bed and Breakfast building was untouched and is still operating as an enjoyable place to rest up beside the River Boyne.
There are records of a Mill being in the area since the heyday of the Abbey, but the history is a bit clouded in mystery. Bective Abbey, sited on a gentle rise above the River Boyne, was established by the Cistercians in 1147. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary it's walls are mainly intact, with beautiful cloisters and other rooms to explore. Recent archaeological excavations have revealed extensive monastic gardens and further buildings probably used by the monks and lay brothers.
The Cistercians owned many granges (farms) and were commercially successful in managing the landscape. Based in France they searched for noble patrons and prime farmland. At Bective they found rich lush pastureland and Murchadh O Melaghlin, King of Meath, and at his invitation they moved into the area and took over the local farms, then employing the owners in the service of the monastery. Austere and requiring strict conformance to the Rules of St. Benedict, their observance included manual work and agricultural labour in the fields of the Abbey. In 1536 Bective was dissolved on the orders of Henry VIII and the community dispersed to live with the locals.
Despite having been restrained in the energy of this powerful management by Christian monks many find a peaceful atmosphere and calmness in the semi- ruined buildings.
There is a small car park and information boards at the Abbey site.
Bru na Boinne, Donore, Co. Meath - Newgrange
Do visit their website before organising your visit as this is a very busy and popular site and tickets usually need to be pre-booked.
All admission to Newgrange and Knowth is through the Visitor Centre, there is no direct access to these monuments. Visitors are brought from the Visitor Centre to the monuments by shuttle bus.
There is a large car park with picnic area, short walk to the centre where the main facilities are reservations desks, toilets, gift shop and restaurant.
Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre interprets the Neolithic monuments of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. The extensive exhibition includes a full scale replica of the chamber at Newgrange as well as a full model of one of the smaller tombs at Knowth. These have been recently refurbished and opened to the public 12th December 2019 - Bru na Boinne Visitor Experience
Images of Newgrange through the ages can be found at the Irish Archaeology website. Click the link below for some drawings and pictures of how it once appeared:
St Ciaran's Well, Castlekeeran, Co. Meath
From 'The Beauties of the Boyne and its tributary the Blackwater' by William Wilde:
About a furlong's length to the west of the old church may be seen St. Kieran's well, one of the most beautiful holy wells in Ireland, and shaded by a hoary ash tree of surpassing size and beauty...
The well is situated on the side of a beautiful and exquisitely green sloping bank, upon which the neighbouring sheep love to congregate. It springs from a limestone rock of considerable extent; and appears first in a small natural basin immediately at the foot of the tree.
Within the well are several trouts, each about half a pound weight. They have been there " as long as the oldest inhabitants can recollect" and, strange to tell, they are said not to have grown an ounce within that period. These fish are held in the highest veneration by the people, who, when the well is being annually cleansed of weeds, carefully preserve the blessed creatures, and replace them as soon as possible.
About ten years ago a report spread over Meath and the surrounding counties, that Saint Kieran's ash tree was bleeding, and thousands of people flocked to the place to witness the wonder, and many brought with them vessels and bottles in which they hoped to carry away a portion of the miraculous fluid. With this it was hoped they might perform cures such as " common doctors" could not even attempt.
From the County Atlas of Ireland, drawn and engraved by John Kirkwood 1868 -
Legend has it that the healing powers of the water are at their strongest between midnight and 1a.m. on the first Saturday of August and each year dozens of people take the old pilgrim route there.
|Nowadays the trout at said to appear only at mid-night on 1st August.|
--- oOo ---
There is a large stone Oratoryon the top of the hill, erected in 1913, looking down on the limestone pavement and well.
The waters at Ciaran'sWell carry special healing powers, the water in one of the pools is said to have been the cure of headaches, toothaches and sorethroats. Bathing feet in the tiny stream that flows from the well is said to preserve them from soreness during the coming year and healing of warts.
Within the rocks is a chair shaped depression that is said to have the impression of the saint's back, and is believed to cure back ailments.
There are two bridges across the Stoneyford River from the road onto the site.
Dowth, Co. Meath, Ireland
Dowth mound stands in a large field, sharing the space with grazing sheep. On the northern bank of the river Boyne, it is signposted from the Slane to Drogheda road. Drive directly to the site and park on the roadside. Thereare no facilities, such as toilets and gift shop, at the site, but there is a comprehensive information board. Entrance is through a metal squeeze gateway.
The large mound is about the same size as Newgrange and Knowth, raised between approximately 3200 and 2000 BC, making it the third presently visible on this ridge.
In July 2018, another passage tomb in the grounds of nearby Dowth Hall was excavated, revealing significant examples of Neolithic rock art similar to those at Dowth and the other Brú na Bóinne sites.
There are two chambers, referred to as Dowth North and Dowth South, and a souterrain (constructed around the 10th or 11th century).
There is usually no public access to the chambers of the mound.
Dowth (Dubthach or darkhouse) is the place of death, the setting winter solstice sun shining into the chamber of Dowth South every year. It is a masterpiece that complements the dawn sunrise in Newgrange eight hours previously.
Information as of 29th September 2019
Thanks to the OPW for this photo of Autumn Equinox sunrise 2019. In the 1980's Martin Brennan discovered that Cairn T receives light from the rising sun on the spring and autumnal equinox - a beam shining down the passageway and illuminating the rock art on the backstone.
Loughcrew near Oldcastle in Co. Meath, aka Sliabh na Cailleach, the Mountains of the Hag / Witch / Wisewoman / Crone.
A large complex of chambered cairns spread across the hilltops many up to 5000 years old.
The tombs are located on three different hills and Cairn T, one of the largest tombs in the complex, is situated on Cairnbane East. Inside this tomb lies a cruciform chamber, a corbelled roof and some of the most beautiful examples of Neolithic art in Ireland. During the Vernal and Autumn Equinox people gather at dawn in Cairn T to watch sunlight enter the chamber and illuminate the inside of the tomb. OPW information on the site managed by them at Loughcrew. Click here for opening times and information for visiting the site.