I went on a solo trip around Ireland in 2015. One of my favorite places I went was Newgrange, in eastern Ireland. Read on for how to best explore and enjoy this ancient, Neolithic burial tomb.
Why a solo trip to Ireland?
I was itching to take a trip since my big trip around Europe for my 30th birthday. I had asked quite a few friends to come with but no one was either willing to commit or could swing a trip financially at the time. So, I make the executive decision to go alone. I was wavering between Ireland and Iceland because I knew both were relatively safe, friendly and good for solo travelers. Ireland had been on my list of destinations for a really long time. I had only been to Dublin before but the Irish countryside was calling my name.
Once I had decided on Ireland, I scoured the internet for the best deal. I didn’t want to go on a tour as I prefer control over my itinerary. I ended up booking a Groupon Getaways travel deal which was 6 nights in Ireland including airfare, car rental and B&B vouchers. The first night had to be spent at a hotel in Drogheda which is about an hour north of Dublin. I was annoyed at first that I had to “waste” a day by staying there. However, it ended up being one of my favorite parts of the trip. The reason? It’s about 10 minutes from Brú na Bóinne.
Brú na Bóinne
Brú na Bóinne is a UNESCO world heritage site which features three different Neolithic burial sites; Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. Located in a bend in the River Boyne, these sites contain Europe’s largest and most important concentration of prehistoric megalithic art.
When you arrive at Brú na Bóinne, you enter through the visitor’s center. You can’t drive directly to any of the sites. My suggestion is to get there early if you want to do more than one site since they do fill up quickly. I drove all the way to Galway that day, so I opted for only one site: Newgrange. Newgrange in the only one of the 3 sites where you can go inside the burial mound. You get a sticker for your site and an assigned time to pick up the bus. I killed some time in the gift shop and the cute little cafe downstairs while I waited. The bus stop is about a 5 minute walk from the visitors center so make sure you don’t miss your time!
The Tomb of Newgrange
Newgrange was constructed about 5,200 years ago (3,200 B.C.). This makes it older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids of Giza! If you think about it, that is so crazy! It has also been found to be of spiritual/ceremonial significance for the people that built it. Newgrange is best known for what happens during the winter solstice. In the tomb, there is a opening called a roof-box above the passage. At dawn on the solstice, a narrow beam of light comes through the roof-box. This gradually lights the whole chamber for only about 15 minutes. You get to see a demonstration of this on the tour. There are only a small number of people allowed there on the day of the solstice. So, if you’re interested, get tickets now!
You can see the roof box below as well as the beautiful carvings on the entrance stone.
One of the best things about Newgrange has to be the art. The carvings are regarded as some of the finest achievements of European Neolithic art. As you can see on the entrance stone above and some of the pictures below, there are carvings everywhere. You can see a lot of examples of the famous tri-spiral design on many of the stones here. Make sure you spend some time wandering around the whole burial mound to see these support stones.
Thank you random stranger for taking my photo 🙂
The shuttle bus comes every 15 minutes if I remember correctly so just pop back in line to get back to the visitors center. Quick tip, the road out there is unpaved in spots so bring your dramamine or sit up front if you’re motion sensitive like me 🙂
No one knows for sure what the significance of the burial mounds are but you have to admit, they are amazing feats of engineering from people that lived 1000’s of years ago.
Tell me more, tell me more:
Pricing: pricing depends on how many of the sites you visit. Just Newgrange alone was a steal at 6 euros.
Getting there: It’s about 2km from Donore village and there are signs when you get close. Make sure to put the Brú na Bóinne visitors center into your GPS. More visitors information can be found here.
Of note: Remember, you have to book your tickets to the sites at the visitor’s center and they can’t be made in advance. Check when they open and try to get there as close to that as you can.
For more of my trip to Ireland, click here!