So lets see…where were we…oh yes..the motherland..Ireland.
After our adventure in the centre of Dublin and some much needed rest, Aja, dad and I made the pilgrimage to Northern Ireland.
More specifically to Belfast where dad’s family came from on his mothers side.
Luckily Aja had the weekend off so she offered to drive us up and then dad and I would hang out for 3 days while she went back to Dublin.
I had highlighted a side trip which was about 10 minutes off the motorway and am I ever glad we took this detour!
The place is called Mellifont Abbey just west of Drogheda and is the first Cistercian monastery to be built in Ireland around 1142.
Once again we had gorgeous weather (not to be taken lightly in Ireland in May!) and not a soul around….it really lends to a place so sacred and beautiful when there’s no one else there.
So while we were up looking around the ruins, we met a man and his young son who lived up the road. He asked us if we had been to Monasterboice and if we hadn’t we really should see it as it is home to some of Irelands’ oldest High Crosses from the 10th century….
Of course we took him up on his offer to follow him about a 5 minute drive up the road.
Good thing we followed him because it was around a few good winding, narrow and twisty, turny tracks that might not have been too easy to find by description alone.
Out in the middle of a pastoral valley was this amazing 5th century cemetery complete with the crosses and a gorgeous round tower made of stone….
The incredible thing is that the big crosses were all carved by hand and made of a single slab of stone….must’ve had a hell of a lot of time on their hands, those monks…
I even found a little birds nest in the window of the Roundtower!
We got a bit lost in Belfast but after a few dead ends and looking over our shoulders a few times we found our B&B on a lovely tree lined street.
The reason for a bit of nervousness was that when Aja came up to Belfast a year ago, she arrived on the day of the Orangemens Parade. Hundreds of people marching in support of Prods and British rule…not a day when you want to be driving around with Irish license plates.
After we checked in we went for a stroll into the city and had a look at the beautiful sight of Queens University built in 1879.