Having previously covered James Joyce and Trinity College on this blog, today we’re looking at something much, much older: Newgrange (or in Irish: Brú na Bóinne)!
Newgrange is a world-famous prehistoric monument in County Meath, just north of Dublin. It’s one of the best examples of a passage-grave in Western Europe. It was built around 3200 BC – making it at least 600 years older than the Giza Pyramids in Egypt and 1000 years older Stonehenge. It has around 200,000 visitors a year, making it Ireland’s most popular archaeological site. It is estimated it took 300 people 30 years to make.
The old Irish word for womb is Brú and so, Brú na Bóinne may mean “Womb of the Moon.” The layout of the grave in many ways resembles the female reproductive organs. Bizarre, but true. However, the most special thing about this ancient site happens most years on the Winter Solstice. Usually, the sun rises on this day and lights down the main chamber perfectly – showing that the site is an ancient timekeeping piece of architecture. This was rediscovered as a feature of the site in 1967. Nowadays, people are picked by a lottery to get to be there on this special day: https://www.newgrange.com/solstice-lottery.htm
More ancient sites are being found in Ireland all the time – the most recent being one that happened over summer due to the hot weather revealing another monument at Newgrange: https://globalnews.ca/news/4329755/henge-crop-circle-monument-ireland-farmer-field/
If you’re interested in more about Ireland in the past, we have many designs exploring this theme: Newgrange, Ogham writing and the Celts. Carol is also always interested in discussing making custom pieces if you have a particular idea in mind.
Today’s blog is on one of the top visitor destinations in Ireland – and it’s only five minutes walk from our store! Trinity College Dublin is Ireland’s oldest third level (university) institute, founded in 1592. Initially when it was built, it was outside the city’s medieval wall, but as Dublin expanded it now has a central location – south of the Liffey River and Dublin’s most famous shopping street, Grafton Street. Some of the college’s famous alumni include Jonathan Swift, Samuel Beckett, Edmund Burke, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, Ruth Negga and Anne Enright.
The university has an interesting 500 year history. During the Irish War of Independence, the college’s students and staff became divided on whether to support or reject independence while their college became a battleground. Women were only able to attend the college from 1904 on and Catholics were formally banned from attending by the church until 1970 – due to the college being historically a place for the Protestant Ascendancy.
Nowadays, the college has a student population of around 16,000 and over 120 student run societies. Some include DU Players (Europe’s largest and most active student drama society) and the Phil (a debating society founded in 1853 which attracts celebrity visitors every year). There is the annual Trinity Ball, a student outdoor event and Europe’s largest private music event – with 7000 attendees on the campus. Previous musicians include Imagine Dragons, Dizzee Rascal, U2, The Smiths and The Cure. There are ever changing myths and superstitions to do with the students every year but the most longstanding is it’s believed to be bad luck to walk below the Campanile bell tower.
The college houses the world famous Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript from around 800AD. It can be viewed in Trinity’s Long Room library. If you know / can befriend a student of the college, they can take you for free – otherwise there is an entry fee. We hope you get to see us and Trinity College if you’re visiting Dublin sometime soon!