We were camping on a farm just outside Slane and had to head into Drogheda for supplies. There is no way that I could be this close to Dowth and not pay it a visit. I've been here many times, probably more than at any other site. Dowth offers the antiquarian explorer many delights, and not a few frustrations. There is a peace here, something that pulls you that's beyond thought. But don't be eager to get into its passages – you won't be able, Joe Public's not trusted to mind his own heritage (and with good reason).
The mound itself is getting more eroded where the gouge is, where worhshippers, visitors, hippies, whatever, have built concentric rings from the rubble of the tomb. Their play is not going to effect either of the passages or chambers, but the cairn has been exposed in a couple of places and, like sore teeth, will only get worse unless remedial work is carried out.
The height of Dowth is always impressive, especially when viewed from on top of its eastern arc, or from down where the sundial stone is, easily 15 metres from the base of the kerbstones to the rim of the crater, and would have been higher as both Beranger's and Wakeman's old drawings show a round-topped mound.
The tomb is in a pasture field, colonised by loud, hungry sheep. Summer vegetation is covering most of the carved kerbstones – neglect being the lot of Dowth, the poor relative of Brú na Bóinne. But sure what do you want? Another Newgrange or Knowth? Hardly, but a bit of respect wouldn't go amiss. Dowth, Dubhach, the dark place, best left alone (not really).
I asked for directions to Dowth at the visitor centre and the lady at the desk kindly gave me a typed slip of paper with details. We headed off into the countryside and were soon there.
The Tomb is large but looking rather sorry for itself, with a huge crater dug into it. I know that this site has not been 'tarted up' like Knowth and Newgrange but a little TLC wouldn't go amiss.
The site itself is easy to access with a lay by to park in. There was no one else there when I visited.
Due to I guess safety reasons? The entrances to the Tomb were fenced off which was a pity. I settled to peer inside and once your eyes adjust you can make out quite a bit of detail. Whilst I was doing this I could here a bird chirping away. It had built a nest in the drystone walling of the entrance so I made a quick exit not to disturb it.
I then climbed to the top of the Tomb and was nearly swept off my feet by the wind. As the day went on the wind was getting stronger. From the top I spotted a Hare who appeared to call Dowth 'home'. Good for him – or her.
Not as much to see as Knowth or Newgrange but you do get the place to yourself.
Our first site visit in Ireland. We watched the evening roll in from the top of the mound. This site is what it's all about really - it is perfect, there can be no mistaking that. The carvings, though faded, and maybe not as intricate as their more famous Boyne relatives, have a delicate beauty which just cannot be described. The surrounding landscape has a melancholy air, enhanced by the ruined church in the next field.
Whilst hanging out here, recovering from our journey, a few American tourists turned up, fresh from the Newgrange experience. They didn't stay long, five minutes at the most. This is the beauty of Dowth, it doesn't give itself up to the casual, slightly interested tourist, hungry for something they can understand. Mystery lives on here.
Our lodgings for the next couple of nights were in the Glebe House B&B, literally just over the wall from the site. We were lucky to get the nearest room to the mound, so I found myself waking in the night, and looking out through the curtains, just to check it was still there! I would reccommend staying nearby (especially at Glebe House) to anyone visiting the Boyne sites, this gives you the opportunity to spend some real time here. Just hang around and soak it in. This is probably one of the best sites you'll ever see - and it could well be in danger of becoming another part of the Disneyland Newgrange experience. That would be a very sad day indeed.