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Over the Top Tours

Rochester, New York
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33 posts
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Over the Top Tours

After much thought I have decided to take a tour of Wicklow and Newgrange on my trip next week to Dublin. I think that the Over the top tour Celtic Day Tour looks great, I cant seem to find any feedback on this thought.

Does anyone have any thoughts on the tour company?

The description is as follows

We offer you the opportunity to enjoy this land of legend, mystique, and folklore. Experience some of the most remarkable legacies of the ancient Celtic people. Explore the Hill of Tara, Seat of Power of the old High Kings of Ireland. Wander amongst the prehistoric tombs, underground passages and graves of Fourknocks, built before the great pyramids of Egypt more than 5000 years ago. See the mysterious Monasteries and High Crosses of Mellifont Abbey and Monasterboice. Finally, return home via the Hill of Slane where St. Patrick lit a Paschal Fire in 433 A.D. to proclaim Christianity throughout Ireland. Overall, a thrilling experience!

Thanks!

Dublin, Ireland
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554 posts
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1. Re: Over the Top Tours

All companies have blurbs like that. I've often seen the Over the Top Tours buses heading out and back. They seem to attract a fair amount of business, but I've never taken any of their tours so as to what they are like, I don't know. You can't really go wrong driving a bus out to Newgrange.

Dublin, Ireland
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2. Re: Over the Top Tours

I'm a little confused. Are you looking for a tour that does both Wicklow and Newgrange? I'm not aware of any tour that covers both locations. Certainly for day tours, you'll need a seperate tour for each.

According to the information you've posted about Over the Top's Celtic Day Tour, this tour doesn't visit either Newgrange or Wicklow but concentrates on other sights in County Meath and County Louth, north of Dublin. County Wicklow is south of Dublin.

I'd suggest doing a search on the Dublin Forum for both Newgrange and Wicklow tours - there's lots of recommendations and reviews there, and then post again if you need any more information.

Waterford, Ireland
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3. Re: Over the Top Tours

Over the Top is right.

'Wander amongst the prehistoric tombs, underground passages and graves of Fourknocks, built before the great pyramids of Egypt more than 5000 years ago.'

This is a website of Fourknocks http://www.knowth.com/fourknocks.htm

which is fascinating, but it is difficult to see where they get all the plurals from in the blurb.

The description gives the impression it is a sort of Celtic Disneyland. These ancient tombs and artifacts are completely real and largely un-'improved', like the vast majority of the historical remains in Ireland. You need imagination and either some preparatory reading or a good guide to really understand their significance.

And as Tapl says, you are not seeing Newgrange, the most well-known of the tombs in this area.

Wicklow is in entirely the opposite direction from Meath and would require a separate trip.

Dublin
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for Dublin
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4. Re: Over the Top Tours

I have visited all the above places mentioned whilst studying Archaeology in my old age.

Hill of Tara is great, look for the Sile na Gig(on headstone) in the graveyard beside the Hill of Tara. You will need an hour at least to visit here. As you will be walking through long grass I would suggest that you wear old shoes/boots.

Fourknocks. This is a stand alone burial mound with little else around it. If visiting you normally have to call in to the local farmer to get the keys to enter the mound. You will need less than 20 minutes here.

Mellifont Abbey. Fantastic ruins to wander around. You will need less than an hour here.

Hill of Slane. Yes it is a hill and steep and grassy toward the top. About an hour here.

These places are effectively "free entry" places to visit.

Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth are pay as you enter with long queues and can be very busy at peak times. I would think that the tour operator mentioned is avoiding the busier Newgrange areas for that reason alone and squeezing in the other places in the time allocated to the tour.

Rochester, New York
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5. Re: Over the Top Tours

Thanks for the replys! Im aware that I have to take seperate tours of Newgrange and Wicklow. I have a tour to wicklow booked through Vaitor, Im trying to find a different tour to newgrange, other then just the shuttle bus.

Dublin, Ireland
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6. Re: Over the Top Tours

The Bus Eireann tour of Newgrange and the Boyne Valley gets good reports and you are guaranteed a ticket for the Newgrange tomb itself:

https://194.106.151.95/asp/TourDetailView.asp?TOUR_CODE=CD02%2F09&SEASON_ID=298

West Chicago...
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7. Re: Over the Top Tours

I went on the Over the Top Celtic Day Tour this past January and quite enjoyed it. There were 11 on the tour plus the guide (who I think was named Paul). The van could have had a total of 15 people.

You really need to have a specific interest in most of the 5 sites for this tour to be enjoyable. I did and it was the perfect tour for me. (I wasn't, at least at the time, interested in going to Newgrange.) Paul was a fine tour guide who gave great info to enrich our understanding of the sites we visited. I will say that he was clearly "doing a job" as opposed to "living out his passion", but that was just fine. He did his job well.

We started off by driving to Fourknocks. And one of the previous comments is correct. I don't know why their promo literature puts it in the plural. It's simply one prehistoric tomb/grave and the "passage" is maybe 3-5 feet long if memory serves. It's a small site. I think that one of the reasons that it's on the tour is that it's on the way to the first true Celtic site that we visited (Monasterboice). Still, it was quite fascinating as Paul explained how the tombs, while greatly predating the Celtic era, were used by the Celts. (This is the only time that Paul got out of the van to do the "tour" stuff...but that was simply because it was quite cold...at the other sites Paul gave us the talks IN the van...this was all to the good...it would have been hard to listen while stamping our feet and rubbing our hands. I expect that normally these explanatory talks would be given right on the site and then you'd be free, even as we were, to wander around and explore the site.)

The second stop was at Monasterboice. One of my favorite places during my entire 2 weeks in Ireland. This graveyard has two phenomenal high crosses. Muirdach's (spelling?) Cross may be the most interesting and beautiful high cross in all of Ireland. (It seems a shame that it's out in the elements gradually being eroded. It'd be great for them to do what's been done at Clonmacnoise...the high crosses are protected in a building and excellent reproductions are on the original outdoor sites. But I digress.) The second high cross is the tallest in all of Ireland (I think). There is also an excellent round tower at Monasterboice. We probably had about 20-30 minutes to wander around the site, which was just fine.

Our third stop was at Mellifont Abbey. Whatever facilities were at Mellifont were closed for the season in January (I think there's a visitor's center and cafe, but I couldn't say for sure since it was closed). However, the site was completely open for walking around. The monk's Lavabo is really an interesting ruin and is the highlight of the Abbey grounds. Having Paul give his talk was essential for us understanding and enjoying this site since the visitor's facilities were closed and there weren't any interpretive signs that I recall (for which I'm glad).

Our fourth stop was the Hill of Slane. The site itself is not that interesting. However, there are some great views from the top of the hill, an old graveyard and an Augustinian ruin. What was most interesting was the connection to St Patrick (the lighting of the Paschal Fire and all that entailed) that Paul filled us in on. I was quite glad to visit this site as well.

We then made a stop for lunch. (At least that's what I remember. It might have been before the Hill of Slane.) Alas, I don't remember the town or the location. But I do know that it was a really good carvery lunch. (Of course, it was the first time I'd ever had a carvery lunch and I only had carvery one other time, so I don't know what to compare it to.) Keep in mind that lunch is not included so if you want it, you'll have to bring money. It was somewhere around 10 Euros more or less. You don't have to eat here and could go elsewhere in the town or bring your own lunch or skip it altogether. I liked it and wish I knew where it was. I wouldn't mind returning there should I revisit the area. (I'm sure that there's some kind of arrangement between the place and Over the Top, but I didn't feel trapped there by the tour company. Quite liked it.)

Our final tour stop was the Hill of Tara. Again not a lot of actual things to see BUT Paul's talk gave us the context to really enjoy the site. Definitely more visual interest than the Hill of Slane and an even better view. It was overcast, cold and drizzly...and I loved it. Made the place very evocative. I wish I could give you more details, but essentially it's understanding the various deep impressions in the ground and what structures would have been there. There is also the Stone of Destiny (I may have that name completely wrong) at the center of circular rings (I think an old ring fort?). Finally, had a really good hot chocolate (on Paul's recommendation) in the cafe there.

Hope this helps. One could certainly cover all these sites with a car, but Paul's info was absolutely central to understanding and enjoying each site. Without the context and background, there would be little to engage with at most of these places.

If I were returning with friends, I would definitely push us to take this tour. I was also quite happy with Over the Top and would consider taking there Wicklow tour should I return and not have access to a car. You might want to do a forum search, though. It seems to me that I've run across a couple postings of people who were less thrilled with Over the Top that I was.

Have a great time, regardless what you end up doing!

Keith

8. Re: Over the Top Tours

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