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We've had a very early - and very cold - start to deep winter here at Loughcrew this year. Along with many other parts of Europe we've had freezing Arctic winds blow down on us, blasting us with snow, sleet and very cold temperatures. The whole country is covered in a white, fluffy blanket of snow for almost a whole week now.

Because we're not used to it, it's the main topic of conversation - top news item on radio and television. People are making heroic efforts to keep the country moving. Bus drivers getting as far along roads as they can, council workers out gritting and salting main highways, neighbours pulling each other out of ditches, even the army called in to get hospital staff in to work.

But up here at Sliabh na Caillí (Loughcrew) it's a world away from all the hustle and bustle. Up here the contours of the land are softened and smothered by a layer of sparkling snow. Walking up the hill it was as if someone had strewn a giant handful of diamonds that shone and glistened on the blue white snow. The snow folded itself in shapes around the fences, covered the withered stalks of last year's thistles and lay like fleece on the ancient stones.

The sky is purest blue, the air sharp and clean. The snow bearing clouds have moved on south and a low and golden winter sun shines in a crystal clear sky. It's windy too - the air burns exposed ears and cheeks and loose snow eddies and flurries in the most exposed spots. But up here you can take the deepest breath and drawn in the cleanest air. So cold you can feel it moving into your lungs, clearing, exhilarating, enlivening.

You can climb to the top of Cairn T and it's like standing on top of the world. Sixteen counties they say you can see on a clear day - and they don't get much clearer than this. From the Cooley to the Wicklow mountains; from the Ben of Fore to the Hill of Slane; from Lough Sheelin to the Tower of Lloyd; from the wind turbines of Fermanagh to ... could those be the Slieve Blooms in the distance? Hard to tell, but easy to believe.

What a place to live. What a place to visit. www.beyondtheblarney.ie

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Tags: Loughcrew, Megalithic, Oldcastle, ireland, meath, tombs, tours

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