Slane castle and Newgrange

Slane castle and Newgrange
Meath, Ireland

Meath, Ireland

“I’m not feeling aggressive at all now.”

We started the day with separate runs round Glendalough, retracing the routes we’d walked the day before and then heading into the hills, meeting at a crossroads. My legs ached, a bit of a come down considering I’d not exercised at all on the Sunday, let alone done a long run, but then I realised; I finished heading uphill and turned after 32 minutes, still had time to add a loop of the lake and returned to the hostel before the hour was up, so had been essentially climbing for half an hour. My legs were still to be sore on Wednesday, with a bike ride on aching thighs later, in Newgrange, only adding to that.

Post run we headed out. My original thought was to head for the south east this week and base myself there before meeting Joe and Jacq at Marlay parkrun, but plans have only ever been loose here. I had thought I’d rent a cottage for a week, only to find I enjoyed the sense of progression from moving, and the conversation in hostels, far too much. Eventually I decided to head North, helping to fill in some of the gap between Dublin and Belfast I wouldn’t otherwise see, and pay a visit to Slane castle, home to Henry Mountcharles. I’d heard him interviewed on the radio, and a more urbane, politically active and aware yet diversely interested man you couldn’t hope for. The castle is home to gigs, so its owner is as happy discussing Bon Jovi’s exemplary attitude to putting on a show as he is the different approaches to politics in the UK and Ireland.

On the way we stopped at Bective-I spent some time trying to use the word as an adjective-Abbey, which is an evocative ruin, with all the inside spaces locked away, but plenty to clamber on, and a couple of staircases to nowhere you’re free to climb up, jump off, do as thou wilt. I found a tower with an easy looking clamber over a drop to more steps and Linda of course actually climbed it while I looked on, wondering if her last minute upward thrust was a precursor to taking the jump she’d talked about a moment before.

Imposing front of Slane Castle
Slane Castle.

Slane castle is a beautiful building, a castellated house rather than a large fortification, with grand rooms and modern meeting ancient with a grand ballroom next to the bar they use for weddings, Heineken pumps and all. U2 recorded The Unforgettable Fire here, a little before the actual fire that took down most of the left side of the house. It has been restored by the owner, without recourse to public money, and that streak of entrepreneurship shows itself in the forthcoming distillery to sell their whisky (previously brewed by an independent), the farm, weddings and Eminem et al. As a bonus we were just in time for a tour, so as we pulled up were greeted by the staff coming out to see us-just like arriving at a country house, I’m sure-to check whether we wanted to join in.

Another reason for heading to Slane was the promise of accommodation somewhere in the grounds, but my following of direction failed somewhere so we ended up not far away at Newgrange lodge, just near the monument (more tomorrow), a beautiful and initially deserted hostel that was soon mobbed by scouts. I took the bike out while Linda ran, cheering on some stragglers in a bike race going by in the other direction and failing to pick up food because the shops had shut by the time I was heading back. I did have time to briefly explore Dowth, which is the third large passage tomb in the area, albeit unexcavated. The battling lambs, pulled apart by mama sheep, made for a good wild feeling.

Summary: just another day in paradise.


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