pictured is a 13th century lavabo where the monks washed their hands before meals. four of the orginal romanesque arches surrounding the lavabo remain today.
mellifont abbey is the first cistercian monastery built in ireland. mellifont abbey was founded in 1142 on the orders of the archbishop of armagh. william of orange used mellifont as his headquarters during the battle of boyne in 1690. pictured are the ruins of several romanesque arches at the abbey.
it is believed that in 433AD saint patrick lit a paschal fire here as a challenge to the pagan king of tara. this symbolised the triumph of christianity over paganism. the hill of slane is an interesting place to visit and has a beautiful ancient church yard.
watters is a local pub and restaurant in the center of slane. i ordered the "sweeny todd" it was a delicious meat pie with a very unique flavor. take a good look at the pictured sign to get the joke. seriously good irish fare at moderate prices. also the guiness was good and cold.
At the top of Slane Hill, you'll notice broken glass everywhere...because cars are broken into on a regular basis. You'll notice guys hanging around in their cars (our perpetrator sat in a small red truck facing outward for a quick escape), waiting for a low-traffic time to smash the window on your car-for-hire and take money, cameras, etc.
Queries or complaints with the local constable will bring a surprising lack of interest...my theory is that he's in on the take.
The abbey at Slane is truly stunning, one of my favorite places in Ireland. Go during the day when there are plenty of witnesses!
St. Patrick at Slane Hill On the evening before Easter, 433 AD, St. Patrick kindled a fire on Slane Hill close to Tara. It seems like a simple and unobtrusive action to us now, but at the time it was equivalent to declaring war: a war on the Druids and their pagan beliefs and war against the King of Ireland. That small act of starting a fire was a turning point in St. Patrick's life and it marked the beginning of a new belief system for Ireland's native people. In Ireland at the time, Christian Easter was not celebrated. Rather, the Irish marked the Beltaine festival which celebrated the coming of spring. During Beltaine, the Druids lit a great bonfire with the understanding that no other fire should be lit in the vicinity. To do so would be to challenge the authority of the Druids and, under Brehon Law, that of the King. Those who dared violate the Beltaine rules could be punished with death.
St. Patrick was obviously aware of what he was doing as he and his small band of followers dressed in their finest vestments and lit the small but defiant Paschal Fire. They then waited for the sure response they were to receive, which apparently did not take very long at all. A group of King Laoghaire's warriors arrived on the scene and took the small band into custody. From the site of their fire, they were 'escorted' to Tara, where they were to answer for their crime. During the journey the Holy men recited a prayer in protection, which is now known as the hymn of St. Patrick's Breastplate or the Faed Fiada (Deer's Cry). The following version is from Dr. Sigerson's rendering of the hymn:
Fondest memory: I bind me today,
God's might to direct me,
God's power to protect me,
God's wisdom for learning,
God's eye for discerning,
God's ear for my hearing,
God's word for my clearing.
God's hand for my cover,
God's path to pass over,
God's buckler to guard me,
God's army to ward me,
Against snares of the devil,
Against vice's temptation,
Against wrong inclination,
Against men who plot evil,
Anear or afar, with many or few.
Christ be with me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ within me,
Christ behind me,
Christ be o'er me,
Christ before me.
Christ in the left and the right,
Christ hither and thither,
Christ in the sight,
Of each eye that shall seek me,
In each ear that shall hear,
In each mouth that shall speak me-
Christ not the less,
In each heart I address.
I bind me to-day on the Triune-I call,
With faith in the Trinity-Unity-God over all.
When the prisoners arrived at Tara, they were immediately placed on trial. First, St. Patrick was forced to face the Druids, and then he was placed in front of King Laoghaire to answer for his alleged crimes. It is here that St. Patrick's renowned eloquence came into play. With his knowledge of the language and customs of the Irish he managed to gain pardon for the group. Some say he did this with a clover, which he used to explain the Holy Trinity to the King.
The clover was one of the most ancient symbols of Ireland and is in the design of the passage tombs in the Valley of Tara. By explaining the Trinity with a clover, he might have 'implied' a greater knowledge of Irish Gods and the history of Ireland than the Druids were able to muster.
Through his own audacity, St. Patrick attracted the attention and respect of the Irish King and gained the freedom to preach Christianity across the land. That one small act of igniting a fire, proved pivotal in the history of Ireland and gives us a deeper understanding of St. Patrick's Celtic name, Succat (Clever in War).