One of the wonderful friends I’ve met while here in Slane is Eamon. A tall, strapping, football loving Irishman, who’s family has lived on the Hill of Slane in the shadow of the historic ruins since the 1930’s. Growing up running the hills with other village boys, battling with wooden swords
among the stone walls, throwing paper planes from atop the tower, climbing the ancient mound in the woods near by – although i’ve walked these grounds many times since arriving here, when he invited me for a hike around the old site I couldn’t say no!
We sloshed through the mucky, wet cow fields to the ancient Neolithic mound site that lies in the wooded area behind the stone ruins and cemetery. The site is currently being surveyed and researched by Conor Brady and The Hill of Slane Archeological Project.
Smaller green mounds lie about on the approach to the main barrow/mound that rises about 25 feet with an obvious stone border on its top, and a deep motte at it’s base. Old beautiful lichen covered trees surround and crown this mysterious place. Eamon shared local history bits as well as stories of his families
memories on this special hill. He had not walked these woods for many years. We were beginning to lose day light and the muck was getting deeper, so we started our walk back. Upon our arrival to his family home we were met by his lovely mother who had a pot of Irish Stew on the stove and the days fresh baked Brown Bread waiting to warm us up. I have to admit that I had yet to find a slice of Irish Brown Bread I liked until this meal. The Irish do not seem to consume bread in the same mass quantity with every meal as we Americans do. Restaurants don’t greet you here with a bottomless basket of warm delicious carbohydrates to keep you busy while you wait. Bread is consumed with a purpose, not thoughtlessly. And a traditional Irish household will have a fresh loaf on the table least every other day, either from their own oven or from the lady down the street who bakes extra to sell to the neighbors. Mrs. Coyle’s Irish stew was delicious despite Eamon’s claim it was prepared with the fresh meat of englishmen. Her brown bread was heavenly, light and almost creamy to the taste. A 3 generation recipe she was kind enough to share with me and you can find below. The ingredients are few and basic but the key is to not over handle the dough, mixing till just not sticky and able to form up in a pan…bread making is science almost magic and Mrs. Coyle’s Brown Bread on The Hill of Slane is heaven !