Once upon a time there was a cat named Chip who loved to travel and go on adventures. Yet it had been a while since she went on one of her adventures to far away places, so she pulled out a map to play a game of darts. Chip would throw three darts, one paw over her eyes, at the map. Wherever the darts landed, she would then pick her favorite.
One, two, three thunks! later, she went to the map. One dart was in the middle of the Atlantic ocean; the second was in Georgia, her home state; and the third was lodged in the little island country of Ireland. Chip knew that there was only one choice from the three: She was going on an adventure to Ireland.
Chip had heard so much about the Green Isle, and wanted to see it for herself. Where there really leprechauns? What makes the celtic crosses so special? Is it really as green as people say it is? Chip knew that she would find out the answers to these questions and many more, but first she had to get there.
The rumors were true. Everything was green, even in what was supposed to be the dead of winter. It was surprising that not many others lived in Ireland with a landscape as beautiful as a Monet painting. Seeing the green fields and winding brooks, Chip realized that her journey should be one like the people of Ireland, starting with the first settlers.
The first settlers came long before America was even though of, they arrived during the Neolithic Age, or New Stone Age. They were hunter-gathers, following the deer and other large animals that they lived off of. When they reached Ireland, it is possible they saw much of the same as Chip saw: the green plants equalling life — even in winter, abundance of water to drink and travel by, and animals to live on. It is believed that these first settlers to Ireland settled in the Brú na Bóìnne; and that was where Chip was going, too.
Chip was a special cat, she could travel through time and see things for her own eyes. All she had to do was think very hard about a topic and place and she would be transported back. And so, she thought about Ireland, about the first settlers, about the Neolithic Age.
There is a fire, warm and fresh, where everyone is gathered. Men and women in animal skin clothes hum tunes into the night. It is a cold night and cloudy. Huts made out of yew branches dot the area surrounding the fire. The River Boyne is beneath the tribe, it’s swirling waters can be heard in over the hums and mumbles. Children run back and forth playing a game with sticks. The people are waiting, they are worried. For weeks now the nights have become longer and longer, is their god displeased with them, they wonder. There is a small number of men in more elaborate furs, they are older than most of the others in the tribe, yet they are still strong enough to hold their own it seems. The older men, the elders, address the rest of the tribe; the tribe begins to disperse into their huts, gathering their children along the way.
Chip sees the elders turn around, towards her, and they advance. For half a second, she wonders if the elders can see her (no one has ever seen her when she has traveled) before she looks behind herself and is left in awe. In front of her now is a large mound, too large to see it all from where she stands with the tribe’s dwellings (Cochrane, pg. 163).It’s shell white wall, flickering orange in the firelight, towers above her. The top is made of large flat rocks, that beehive up to a single rock at the point. The front of the wall curves in to a semi circle and a closer look unveils boulders with swirls, diamonds, and other symbols carved into them. These symbols mean something, yet Chip doesn’t know what. She watches as the elders have made it to the boulders, they stop, mumbling a prayer though Chip cannot understand what is said. Then, one by one, the elders step over the most ornate boulder. Together, they slide open a large stone that severs as a door to the inside of the mound; and one by one enter into the blackness.
Blinking out of her daze, Chip runs to follow before the door is closed behind the elders. Inside, she can see nothing. She can sense that they are in a tunnel and that it is narrow. Only the sounds of bare feet shuffling on the floor and the elders’ animal skins brushing rocks reach her ears. Finally, the tunnel opens up, Chip can hear more echos on the stones. She hears one of the elders feel around for something, then the sounds of falling sand and small, hard objects onto a stone. Chip hears the elders mumble more prayers, and again their words are lost to her.
About the time that Chip wonders if they are never going to be let out of the mound, she sees a light on the floor. It is orange, like the fire that was outside, and creeping closer and closer to them, yet the elders are not surprised (Whitaker). They cease their prayers and watch intently. The light getting closer, and the small room itself coming into focus. There are three tiny chambers where stones have been carved to look like bowls. The basin across from the light has what looks like ashes in it, only Chip realizes that those ashes are human and a few small bone fragments. The light continues to come closer until it reaches the basin with the human remains, and the light begins to retreat. As slowly as it came, it goes, but it leaves a hint of light in its place.
The elders return to the tribe with the good news. A celebration is to take place, a gift to their god.
Cochrane, Andrew James. “Chapter 4.” Irish Passage Tombs: Neolithic Images, Contexts and Beliefs. Cardiff: University of Wales, Cardiff, 2006. Pages 123-204. Print.
Whitaker, Alex. “Newgrange, Ireland.” Newgrange, Ireland. The Ancient Wisdom Foundation, Apr. 2012. Web. 12 Mar. 2014. <http://www.ancient-wisdom.co.uk/irelandnewgrange.htm>.