There are several places in Ireland where you may feel that you have traveled back in time to an era of medieval castles and bloody battlefields, none more uniquely so that the Boyne Valley in Co.Meath.
This beautiful landscape is covered in monastic ruins, ancient tombs and some of the most important battle sites in Ireland’s history. Not to mention the filming location for some of Mel Gibson’s Braveheart.
Travellers flock to see Ireland’s ancient past in this area; locations such as Trim Castle, the Hill of Tara, Monasterboice or indeed Ireland’s answer to Stonehenge, our very own Newgrange. The close proximity to Dublin city and
great travel links between the areas means that this is one place in Ireland you can fit in on a day trip!
The River Boyne flows through both counties Louth and Meath and has long been settled by ancient clans. Passage tombs at Newgrange, Dowth at Brú na Bóinne and Knowth are not to be missed and the sacred hills and heritage towns dotted around this area provide spectacular views and locals are just waiting to tell you a yarn or two! Ireland’s Ancient East has a long and rich history just waiting to be explored!
One of these locations is Trim, which is home to a Castle and a keep where part of the Oscar winning Braveheart movie with Mel Gibson was shot. Trim also boast the most medieval buildings of any other town in Ireland and provide picturesque photo opportunities for those budding photographers amongst you.
This area also hosts the first Cistercian monastery in Ireland, Mellifont Abbey which dates back to 1142. The monastic house at the Abbey still admits guests who are seeking refuge and the monks who are on site still adhere to the traditional ways of life that they have for many centuries.
The Hill of Tara is also close by and if Ireland’s ancient history is on your agenda for your holiday – this is one site not to be overlooked! The Hill of Tara was the former seat of the High Kings of Ireland so not only will you be walking in royal footsteps but it also provides some of the most spectacular views that the county has to offer.
The River Boyne, with its winding waters may look peaceful and relaxing today but in the year of 1690 it was the scene of one of the bloodiest battles in the struggle between Britain and Ireland. On 1st July William III (or William of Orange) battled James II for the British throne, a battle which saw the largest gathering ever of British troops on Irish soil.
The bloody battle that ensued is captured in the Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre in various audio/visual exhibitions and weaponry displays. During the summer months there is even an opportunity to watch re-enactments of the battle and have it unfold before your very eyes!
This is not just a county of ancient history, it is also paving the way into the future with music. The Boyne Valley is also home to Slane Castle, owned by Lord Henry Mount Charles. This forward thinking peer has long been responsible for some of Ireland’s biggest rock concerts on his lands including The Rolling Stones, Madonna and the Irish born U2.
This county provides you with everything you could need on your cottage holiday in Ireland, with heritage towns like Drogheda, Kells and Navan providing the perfect backdrop for your shopping needs, its ancient sites both monastic and royal and huge rock festivals to whet your appetite once you get to the Boyne Valley, well you just won’t want to leave!