Explore – Meath
Welcome to Ireland’s Heritage Capital, welcome to County Meath. Get ready to start a journey through time, one that will bring you through 6,000 years of history, megalithic sites, battlefields and medieval towns.
Things to do
There’s no better place to start this journey then the Brú na Bóinne Visitors Centre. Brú na Bóinne is a World Heritage Site and is the largest and one of the most important complexes of Megalithic sites in Europe, being the most famous sites the impressive passage graves of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. Access to the monuments is done through the Visitors Centre only. Here, through full scale replicas and audiovisuals you will have a chance to learn a bit more about the main monuments on site. On site visitors will discover a complex of Neolithic mounds, chamber tombs, standing stones, henges and other pre-historic enclosures dating from as early as the 35th century BC.
The best known monument in the Brú na Bóinne site is the stone age passage tomb of Newgrange. This impressive construction predates the pyramids. Newgrange consists of white round stone walls topped by a grass dome. Measuring 80m diameter and 13 m high, it was built around 3200 BC and no one is quite sure of its original purpose. It could have been a burial place for kings or a centre for ritual. Every year, a few chosen ones gather for the Winter Solistice, to admire the tomb’s precise alignment with the sun, whenever the sun decides to make an appearance that is. This may suggest that the tomb was designed to act as a calendar.
Located near the River Boyne, between Navan and Dunshaughlin, lies the Hill of Tara. This is another impressive archaeological complex containing a number of ancient monuments. But more importantly, Tara appeals to the collective soul of Ireland, this is a sacred site, the seat of the High King of Ireland and it is associated with several kingship rituals. An audiovisual show and a guided tour of the site is available for visitors.
Near the Hill of Tara is one of Ireland’s oldest continuously inhabited houses – the Dunsany Castle. The castle was originally a Norman fortress built in the 12th century, but it was considerably altered and increased over its long lifetime. Dunsany is the home of the Lords of Dunsany and even though it is privately owned, it is open to the public. A guided tour takes approximately 2 hours and it will bring visitors through different divisions of the castle. Dunsany Castle is home to an impressive art collection and many other treasures related to important figures in Irish history, such as Oliver Plunkett.
Ireland’s largest and best preserved Anglo Norman Castle can be found on the south bank of the River Boyne in Trim. The town itself retains its original medieval layout and boasts more upstanding medieval buildings and structures than any other town in Ireland. Built in the 12th century the castle stood as a powerful symbol of Norman power and it became world famous when the movie Braveheart was shot here. Access by guided tour only.
On the journey through medieval times, one must include a visit to the enchanting town of Kells. Over 1,000 years old, this town is a lively, modern day town, but a walk through its streets will lead visitors to realize that they are actually walking through a Monastic site. Ancient and medieval remains can be found everywhere, including the Monastic enclosure with the High Crosses, Round Tower, St. Colmcille’s House and the famous Scriptural Market Cross.
It was also in County Meath that two kings fought for power on a battle that would see 60,000 soldiers march through the Boyne Valley. The armies of King James II and King William III fought on this land and in the end William prevailed and James left for France. At the Battle of Boyne Site Visitors Centre you can watch a short show about the battle. Self guided walks through the parkland and battle site.
Along with history and heritage, County Meath has a lot more to offer. A 6 mile coastline of white sandy beaches, golf courses, horse racing at Fairyhouse, fishing in the River Boyne and coarse angling on the Royal Canal, Lough Sheelin and the Drumconrath lakes.
Meath, in Irish ‘An Mhi’, which means the middle, might just be the right spot to be in.
Places to Stay
Hidden Ireland Historic Country Guest Houses
Bed and Breakfast
Rossnaree has a suitably imposing setting in the heart of Brú na Bóinne, overlooking the Boyne and the ﬁve thousand year-old passage tombs at Newgrange and Knowth. Rossnaree was built in the Italianate style during the Victorian era and has remained in the ownership of the Law family ever since. Its site is believed to be that of the House of Cletty, where the High Kings of Ireland, coming from nearby Tara, would partake in seasonal ceremonies. Aisling, the present owner, is warm, welcoming and a consummate hostess, with an interest in art and drama which is reﬂected in the art courses held at Rossnaree.
Clonleason Gate Lodge
This riverside cottage in the heart of the Boyne Valley overlooks mature parkland. It is set at the entrance to a Georgian farmhouse and has been carefully converted into an exceptional one bedroom retreat. With its rose garden, stream and open ﬁreplace the cottage is a perfect place to relax and unwind just an easy one hour drive from Dublin airport.