Like many Neolithic Celtic sites, Newgrange is a prime example of primitive astronomy:
the monument was constructed in such a way that the rising sun would illuminate its inner
chamber on the Winter Solstice, and on no other day of the year.
Wicklow Mountains National Park
(photo credit: J.H. Janssen via Wikimedia Commons)
Leinster is hardly renowned for its hiking - unlike the west of Ireland, it was not carved by
powerful ocean winds, but rather consists of a gently rolling landscape more reminiscent
of the English countryside. However, there is a large national park about 7 miles south of
Dublin that breaks this rule. The peaks of Wicklow Mountains National Park are not as dra-
matic as those of Kerry or Donegal, but they have the advantage of easy accessibility from
Dublin, and they are rarely frequented by tourists.
In addition, the Wicklow Mountains extend for an area of over 1,000 square miles, making
them one of Ireland's largest uninterrupted stretches of wilderness. Gentle to moderate hik-
ing will get you to stunning vistas, cool mountain lakes, and plenty of quiet solitude.
Believed to be Ireland's oldest living settlement , the city of Waterford (population
46,000) was founded by Vikings at roughly the same time as Dublin (ca. 900 AD ). It's dis-
tinctly proud of this long history, and there are plenty of historic sites and museums to visit.
Waterford is right on the boundary between Leinster and Munster, so it's a great stop on
roadtrips from eastern Ireland to the vast countryside of the South.