Newgrange Mound: Ireland’s Most Famous Prehistoric Site

After picking up Stephen and Joel at the Dublin Airport around 8:40 am, we headed off to our first destination: a UNESCO World Heritage Site built about 5,000 years ago (500 years before the Great Pyramid!) called “Newgrange Mound.”

For the first several thousand years after it was built, no one knew it existed because it just looked like a hill where cows and sheep grazed!

In fact, here is another picture I took…just to show you that there are still lots of cows grazing close by, although not on top of Newgrange Mound since the 1800’s.

Today the mound has been carefully studied and is protected. Our GPS brought us to the entrance, but we couldn’t get in! We had to find our way miles back and around to the “ticket” center, wait for a bus and take a 90-minute tour to see this fascinating structure. It was worth it! The mound covers an acre, has a 250-foot diameter, is 40 feet high, and was made out of 547 slabs of slate, sandstone, pebbles and dirt, for a grand total of about 200,000 tons of weigh (i.e. 4 million pounds)! How in the world did they do that??No one knows the purpose for the mound, although there is a 60-foot passage leading to the center that is perfectly aligned with a “window” above, so that on sunrise during Dec. 21-25 (the winter solstice), the lights from the door and window meet in the center of the tomb and light up the interior. Some 100,000 people apply each year to be part of the select few who are allowed to come and experience this incredible “sunrise” in the tomb around Christmas. Whatever the significance, it clearly demonstrates the scientific and architectural brilliance of these ancient “cave men” who had not yet even developed metallurgy or wheels.Another ingenious thing about Newgrange is the artwork. Their chief decoration was a pattern of three interconnected circles, and some scientists have wondered if it was a religious symbol depicting eternal life. As a trinitarian Christian, I really liked that thought, and it made me think of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—three-in-One—the essence of Eternal Life. I could also picture these prehistoric people having some concept of the promise of resurrection life. I do not know if Christ was really born on December 25th, but I love the thought that Christ, whose birthday we celebrate on the winter solstice, came to bring resurrection life to all who believe in him. Could these Neolithic age people have been waiting for the resurrection from the dead? Happy thought.

Well, despite the fact that the Hawthorns were starting to bloom on this late April morning…

and spring flowers were dotting the hillsidesthe wind was sharp, and we developed quite an appetite for a good lunch!We discovered that although prices are relatively high in the British Isles, the food is much better than reputed, and when we ordered our entree, we were delighted to discover that we were treated to several salads as well (which we found to be true more often that not in our travels). Thus fortified, we were ready to head out for our next adventure, feeling quite sure that this was going to be a marvelous experience! 🙂

“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made…” Romans 1:19-20 (ESV)

The First Day: A Royal Wedding

Alan and I left for the British Isles a day ahead of Stephen and Joel. It was just one month ago, on April 29,2011…the day Prince William married Kate Middleton. Someone asked playfully if we were going to the wedding. Well, as a matter of fact, we weren’t invited! I mean, we have absolutely no connections with British aristocracy (apart from one unfortunate marriage by a distant Vanderbilt cousin). However, we have roots! Between the two of us, our kids are 50% English, about 31% Scottish and 19% Irish, which equals 100% British! So, this was definitely a roots tour of sorts!

Because the wait stretched into interminable hours while our jet and pilot were detained by terrible tornadoes that were devastating the South, we noticed countless reruns of the royal wedding being broadcast to billions of people the world over. It is doubtless the most viewed and celebrated wedding of this century, and the long night gave me lots of time to ponder weddings.

We may not have been invited to the royal Windsor wedding, but we’ve all been invited, by faith, to become a part of the bride of Christ and participate in the greatest, happiest celebration in the universe yet to come: the marriage of the Lamb. Know that you and I—and all of us— are loved dearly by God, and He wants us to become One with Him and with each other!

By the way, did you hear Kate and William’s prayer? I think it’s a good one for all of us who are married: “God our Father, we thank you for our families, for the love that we share and for the joy of our marriage. In the busyness of each day, keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life, and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy. Strengthened by our union, help us to serve and comfort those who suffer. We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.”

R’n’R’s ‘n’ B’n’Bs

“Rambles and Reflections on the Broadways and Byways of Britain”

Flying back from London Heathrow to Chicago O’Hare on an American Airline flight, I sipped a coke and sat dreamily peering out the window at the world turning slowly 38,000 feet below. It was a cloudless morning. Wales and Ireland slipped by in what seemed like minutes, and we were over the vast Atlantic. I picked up my napkin and read: “Turn flights and everyday purchases into lifetime memories.” Of course! What better way to invest the next eight hours, especially since my beloved husband was totally engrossed in the movies offered on our transatlantic flight? I began writing notes feverishly on the napkin, and when every square inch was covered, I pulled apart the only other writing surface I could find: a waxed paper sack for “motion discomfort.”Now here I am a week later, transcribing all my reflections to begin a journey into “lifetime memories” built with my husband and two sons as we toured Ireland, Scotland, and England on our “British Isles 101” adventure (so dubbed because we saw about 101 sites!). I may be slow to get off the ground, because Michael’s family is coming to visit tomorrow for five days on their way from Germany to Hawaii, where Michael will be involved in a two-year dental residency. However, I’m very excited so share my experiences, so I hope you’ll check in again and enjoy my reflections on our rambles through the broadways and byways of Britain!

We’re Home!

Alan and I returned from our trip to the British Isles with Stephen and Joel! We had a fabulous time, and I took about a thousand pictures, but I can’t get any of them off of my camera, so I’m going to the camera store this afternoon hoping for assistance so I’ll have something to share with you before long! In fact, I have about a hundred small tales to tell based on all we experienced during our “British Isles 101 Tour.”  🙂

Meanwhile, it’s GRAND to be back home to America the (also) beautiful!