Ancient Trim and Tara
The historic town of Trim, one of Ireland’s most beautiful towns, in the heart of County Meath, is a good place to start your visit. Believed to have been founded by St. Patrick, it’s better-known nowadays for its buzzing streets, legendary castle and nearby ancient sites.
Start your visit at Trim Castle, Ireland’s oldest Norman castle which will look familiar to movie buffs as the backdrop to the famous battle scene in Mel Gibson’s ‘Braveheart’. Thankfully things are much more peaceful now and you can wander around the grounds on a self-guided tour or visit the impressive keep on a guided tour.
Bective Abbey and the Hill of Tara
On the 20-minute drive to the Hill of Tara it’s worth stopping at Bective Abbey, an impressive 12th-century abbey overlooking the Boyne where you can explore the historic church, chapter house and cloister with its gothic arches. It’s just ten minutes further to the Hill of Tara, a major ritual site, full of secrets since the Stone Age and the seat of the pagan High Kings.
Don’t miss the film at the visitor centre showcasing aerial views of the Hill of Tara’s complex circular mounds and ditches. Visit the ancient passage tomb, The Mound of Hostages, and the Stone of Destiny or Lia Fáil: said to roar when touched by the rightful King of Tara. Legend also has it that it’s the place St Patrick asked for the High King’s permission to preach Christianity, using the shamrock to explain The Holy Trinity. So, it’s given us both our national symbol and patron saint.
The Banks of the Boyne
After your visit to Tara, you’ll enjoy the wide-open views of lush farmland and leafy forests as you wind your way along the natural banks of the River Boyne to your next stop, another one of Ireland’s well-known historic places.
Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre
In 1690, one of the most well-known battles in Irish history, The Battle of the Boyne, took place in Oldbridge on the river’s edge. The Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre brings this historic event to life with reenactments and displays of uniforms and weapons of the time. But the star of the show is the large-scale model of the conflict. Complete with narration and lasers you really get an understanding of the tactics and guile used by William of Orange to defeat the 25,000 men of King James II.
Boyne River Adventures
The sweeping bends and lush riverbanks of the Boyne are full of life and colour and can be fully experienced with an action-packed day of rafting or kayaking with Boyne Valley Activities. Or maybe you’d rather gently bob and weave your way down the river in a boat that was used in Game of Thrones? Explore Westeros right here in Meath on a journey with Boyne Boats.
World famous Brú na Bóinne
Just five minutes away from Oldbridge is one of the most important prehistoric landscapes in the world - Brú na Bóinne, UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stop by the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre for an introduction to the 40 tombs in the area and book a trip on Meath’s must-do activity - the Newgrange Chamber Tour.
The site of many school tours from our younger years, Newgrange is one of the most iconic places in Ireland. Sitting on top of a small hill the white stone walls of the ancient passage tomb starkly contrasts the landscape and as you get closer, carved symbols and art become visible.
Squeezing through the entrance you’ll be guided into the main chamber that has stood for (and been waterproof for) over 5,000 years. During winter solstice, the sun shines through a small slot in the wall, no bigger than a meter on each side, and illuminates the tomb revealing a chamber full of art and incredible engineering.
Treat yourself in Slane
Driving inland alongside the River Boyne for 15 minutes brings you to the town of Slane. Most of us know this it from the U2 and Guns N’ Roses concerts at Slane Castle, but the food and drink here is equally world-class. Near the castle explore Slane Distillery (and their triple-casked whiskey). Opt for a combination tour of the castle to hear stories of a mad king and a hayfork, before learning how the Irish whiskey is crafted at the distillery.
If you have more time in Meath
A relaxing drive through mature woodland alongside the banks of the Boyne brings you to the tranquil coastal village of Mornington. Meath’s coastline is relatively small, but its where you’ll find the beautiful, dune-flanked sandy Mornington beach. Take the dog for a ramble, bring a picnic or cosy up by the fire in Moran’s pub afterwards.
Meath is one of those places that’s been very well documented in so many books but can only truly be experienced by seeing it for yourself. Our Meath destination page has all you need for your perfect short break.