Sunday, October 10, 2010

County Meath

This weekend's day trip was to Trim castle and Tara in County Meath. (Four counties down!)
Trim Castle is the biggest Anglo-Roman castle in all of Europe. It's construction started in 1176 and took a total of thirty years to complete! It originally started off as just one story, and then as more and more defense of the castle keep became necessary, more stories and walls and moats got added on. Everything in the castle was designed for defense, like all the narrow spiral staircases twist towards the right because that gives the right handed sword fighter the advantage if he so happened to be sword fighting on them. And the people back then all lived, slept and ate in one big common room, they didnt wash themselves or their clothes either so it must have smelled horrible and been freezing too.

And Tara was so fun to be able to go to due to the ties it has with my favorite book, Gone with the Wind :) Although its just a whole lot a grass on a hill, Tara has a lot of meaning to the Irish people. Up until the 12th century it was the place of spirirual and political power for the ancient Celts. Its where the crowned their kings with the help of the stone of destiny, which when touched by the future king was supposed to scream so loud all of Ireland could hear it! Tara is where all the Kings met to perform rituals with the Celtic gods and goddesses as well.

And back in Celtic times they had this one day out of year, July 1st, when no one was allowed to light a fire on or near Tara, plunging the area in complete darkness because Tara is 300 acres. Then when St. Patrick came to Ireland (I forget the year) he came on July 1st and lit the first fire on Tara symbolizing the arrival of Christianity. And from then on he proceeds to teach the Celts about Christianity, using the shamrock to teach them about the holy trinity, and banishing all the snakes :)

This is what Tara looks like from above....
In the middle of the bigger circle is the stone of destiny....

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