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Touring Meath

Boyne river near Slane castle by JP courtesy Geograph Ireland Meath is a county of pastureland used for cows and horses. Its water is supplied by the Blackwater and Boyne rivers. Some of Ireland’s most important ancient sites are found in county Meath.

Newgrange stone by Barbara Ballard Newgrange passageway by Barbara Ballard Newgrange is considered one of Europe’s best passage graves. It dates from BC 3000. The 1¼-acre mound measures 37 feet in height. The cairn sits inside a circle of stones. The construction allows the rays of the sun into the inner chamber at the winter solstice sunrise. Inside is a passage leading to a chamber with stone basins (for bones). Standing stones once surrounded the mound.

Knowth panorama by Barbara Ballard Knowth tomb by Barbara Ballard Knowth, one and a quarter miles from Newgrange, dates from BC 2500-2000. It measures an acre in diameter and has two tombs and a souterrain. There are 17 small tombs surrounding it and much neolithic art. Two passage graves are decorated. Visit these important sites from the Bru na Boinne Megalithic Cemetery Visitor Centre near Donore. A shuttle bus ferries visitors around. It is a very busy site.

Blackwater river by IrishFlyFisher courtesy Geograph Ireland St Columcille's  house by Nigel Mole courtesy Geograph Ireland Kells (Irish name is Ceanannus Mor) is a market town in the Blackwater river valley. It name is familiar thanks to the book of Kells (in the Trinity College library) and the location being one of the most important ecclesiastical centres in Ireland by the 8th century. Founded in the 6th century by St Columba, it suffered raids by the Vikings and the Irish. St Columcille's House is a stone oratory from the 11-12th century. The Kells Heritage Centre in a former courthouse gives all the details.

Kells round tower by Mark Duncan courtesy Geograph Ireland Williamstown house by Kieran Campbell courtesy Geograph Ireland Other sites in the town are the Round Tower (c1000) and c10th century scriptural celtic crosses and the market cross in Market Street. The late Georgian mansion, Williamstown, is in Kells and is derelict.

Castlekeeran churchyard by Bob Embleton courtesy Geograph Ireland Castlekeeran ogham stone by Bob Embleton courtesy Geograph Ireland From Kells you can visit the Castlekeeran high crosses (through a farmyard and across a field), the Loughcrew passage graves, (20-minute walk from parking lot), a 30 grave cemetery dating from BC 2500-2000 (sometimes called the Hills of the Witch), and the 18th century Hill of Lloyd tower.

Hill of Tara by Barbara Ballard Hill of Tara grave by Barbara Ballard The area around the town of Navan has a number of attractions. Best known is the Hill of Tara, seat of high kings of Ireland. On view are a passage tomb and an AV show. Guided tours are given of the hill.

Dunmoe Castle by JP courtesy Geograph Ireland Dunmoe Castle, once the home of the D'Arcy family, sits high above the River Boyne, north-east of Navan. Once the castle had four corner turrets, but two have disappeared. Their disappearance is attributed to Cromwell’s bombardment. There is a cemetery in the grounds. The building was gutted by fire in the late 18th century.

Althumney house by Mike Searle courtesy Geograph Ireland South-east are the ruins of 100 foot long 17th century Althumney house with a 15th century tower, walks along the old Boyne canal, and the Ballinlough castle gardens at Clonmellon. There’s a walled garden, herbaceous borders, a rose garden, fruit garden, and lakeside and woodland walks.

Ardbraccan church tower by JP courtesy Geograph Ireland Beau Parc House by JP courtesy Geograph Ireland The former Ardbraccan Church is on the Kells Rd. It was a medieval bishops’ seat and early monastery site and has a holy well. The church tower dates from medieval times. Beau Parc House is a Palladian style mansion built in 1755. At Balrath, Navan is Somerville House, a 1760 mansion.

Donaghmore Round Tower, off the N51, dates from the 11-12th centuries. It was the site of an early Christian settlement.

Slane castle by Jamie Carroll courtesy Geograph Ireland Slane Mill by Jonathan Billinger courtesy Geograph Ireland Slane is a manorial village with Georgian houses. A quarter mile from the village and looking over the Boyne River is Slane Castle, built between 1785 and 1821. Its architecture included square turrets and crenellations. Inside was a Chinese lantern room and ballroom with Gothic ceiling. It suffered a fire in 1991, and restoration was necessary. Slane Mill is a mid 18th century corn mill.

Francis Ledwidge Museum by JP courtesy Geograph Ireland Also at Slane is the Francis Ledwidge Museum, the birthplace of the Irish poet. Close by, the Hill of Slane is a historic site where St Patrick challenged the druids in 433. A Franciscan friary was founded here.

Fennor Castle by Mike Searle courtesy Geograph Ireland Near Slane, Fennor Castle, on the south bank of the Boyne river, was a 17th century stronghouse using parts of a medieval tower. A kitchen with fireplace and oven was located at the east end.

Trim courthouse by John M courtesy Geograph Ireland Trim Castle by Barbara Ballard Trim is a heritage town on the river Boyne banks. Trim Castle (used in the film Braveheart) is the largest Anglo Norman castle in Ireland. The large keep was constructed in 1225 and had two great halls. The castle walls still stand as do the Dublin gate and the town gate. The 12th century Augustinian abbey of St Mary’s is represented by a ruined 14th century tower called the yellow steeple. Part of the cloisters became Talbot Castle in 1425. The Meath Heritage Centre has an exhibition on the town history.

Bective abbey ruins by Mike Searle courtesy Geograph Ireland Bective abbey cloisters by John M courtesy Geograph Ireland The extensive 12th century ruins of Cistercian Bective Abbey lie halfway between Trim and Navan. In the 15th century, cloisters, a great hall, and two towers were added. The abbey was dissolved in 1536.

Robertstown castle by Mike Searle courtesy Geograph Ireland Other county attractions include Glebelands and Glebewood Gardens at Ratoath which is home to the Irish Grand National race run each year and 17th century Robertstown Castle, with an unusual first floor, near Nobber.

Loughcrew garden by Eric Jones courtesy Geograph Ireland Laytown beach by James Allan courtesy Geograph Ireland Loughcrew historic gardens are at Oldcastle with an ancient yew walk, medieval mote, water gardens, and rockery. The seaside resort of Laytown with its sandy beach on which horses race is home to an ecology centre.

Four Knocks passage grave decorated stone by Kieran Campbell courtesy Geograph Ireland Four Knocks is a passage tomb located at Ardcath. Many of the stones are decorated with megalithic art. A concrete dome was created to replace the original tomb roof.

Dunsany castle by C O'Flanagan courtesy Geograph Ireland Dunsany Castle, an 18th century remodel, is turreted and battlemented with a library, staircase, and good plasterwork. A church ruin lies in the grounds. At Duleek are the ruins of a 12th century priory and Norman church, tombs, and a 10th century high cross. Hamwood is a Palladian house with 19th century gardens to enjoy.

Dangan castle by JP courtesy Geograph Ireland Summerhill is an 18th century model village, home to the ruins of a Palladian house and a 15th century stone cross on the green. Dangan castle, now in ruins, was the childhood home of the Duke of Wellington. Forest walks and picnic sites are in the area. The Lakeview gardens and plant nursery are at the village of Mullagh and have many rare plants, a meadow, and a farm.

Bellewstown race course by Jonathan Billinger courtesy Geograph Ireland Bellewstown medieval church by Kieran Campbell courtesy Geograph Ireland Bellewstown, site of the National Hunt and Flat Horse racing, holds a racing festival. In a farmyard belonging to Bellewstown House is a small 14-15th century church.

Meath Attractions

Ardbraccan Church
On Kells Rd
Tel. NA

Ballinlough Castle Gardens
Near Clonmellon, on N52
Tel. 0 46 943 3135

Beau Parc House
Tel. 0 41 982 4207 or 0 41 982 4163

Bective Abbey
Halfway between Trim and Navan off R161
Tel. 0 46 943 7111

Bellewstown Medieval Church
Bellewstown, in a farmyard of Bellewstown House

Bru na Boinne Visitor Centre

Castlekeeran high crosses
Near Kells, through a farmyard and across a field
Tel. NA

Dangan castle
5 km north of Summerhill

Donaghmore round tower
Off the N51
Tel. NA

Duleek Priory and Church

Dunboyne Castle
Tel. 0 1 825 5210

Dunsany castle

Fennor Castle
On south bank of Boyne river
Tel. NA

Four Knocks Passage Tomb
10 miles south-east of Newgrange between Ardcath and Naul

Francis Ledwidge Museum
One mile from Slane on Drogheda Rd
Tel. 0 41 982 4544
Web: Francis Ledwidge Museum

Glebelands and Glebewood Gardens
Ratoath, opposite church on road to Swords
Tel. 0 1 825 6015 or 0 1 825 6219

Grove Gardens and Tropical Bird Sanctuary
Fordstown, Kells
Tel. 0 46 943 4276

Hamwood House and Gardens
Dunboyne, on Maynooth road
Tel. 0 1 825 5210

Hill of Lloyd Tower
Near Kells in a park
Tel. 0 46 924 0064 or 0 46 924 1549

Hill of Tara
15 miles from Navan off N3
Tel. 0 46 902 5903 or 0 41 988 0300

Kells Heritage Centre
Kells, in former courthouse
Tel. 0 46 924 7840

Lakeview Gardens and Plant Nursery

Loughcrew Historic Gardens
Tel. 0 49 854 1356
Web: Loughcrew Historic Gardens

Loughcrew Cairns (Hills of the Witch)
East of Oldcastle off the R163
Tel. 0 49 854 1356

Meath Heritage Centre
Tel. 0 46 943 6633

Mountainstown House
Tel. 0 46 905 4154 or 0 46 905 4195

Robertstown Castle
Nobber, signposted from road

Saint Columcille’s House
Tel. 0 46 924 7840 (Kells Tourist Office)

Saint Columba’s Church

Saint Mary’s Augustinian Abbey
Tel. 0 46 943 6633

Slane Castle
Tel. 0 41 982 4207 or 0 41 982 4163
Web: Slane Castle

Somerville House
Balrath, Navan
Tel. 0 41 982 5184

Trim Castle
Tel. 0 46 943 8619

Trim Visitor Centre
Town Hall, Castle St
Tel. 0 46 943 7227

Tourist Information Centres

Brú Na Boinne (Newgrange) Tourist Office
Bru Na Boinne, Donore
Tel. 0 41 988 0305

Kells Tourist Office
Kells Heritage Centre
Navan Road, Kells
Tel. 0 46 924 7840

Meath Tourism
County Hall, Railway St, Navan
Tel. 0 46 909 7060

Navan Tourist Office
21 Ludlow Street, Navan
Tel. 0 46 907 3426

Trim Tourist Office
Town Hall, Castle St
Tel. 0 46 943 7227

Official Meath Tourism website: Meath Tourism

Photos of Knowth panorama, Knowth tomb, Newgrange stone, Newgrange passage, Hill of Tara, Hill of Tara grave, Trim Castle © by Barbara Ballard.
Other photos courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland as follows:
Boyne river near Slane castle, Dunmoe Castle, Ardbraccan church tower, Beau Parc House, Francis Ledwidge Museum, Dangan castle by JP; Blackwater river by IrishFlyFisher; St Columba house by Nigel Mole; Kells round tower by Mark Duncan; Williamstown house, Fourknocks passage grave decorated stone, Bellewstown medieval church by Kieran Campbell; Castlekeeran churchyard, Castlekeeran ogham stone by Bob Embleton; Althumney house, Fennor Castle, Bective abbey ruins, Robertstown castle by Mike Searle; Donaghmore round tower by Brian Shaw; Slane castle by Jamie Carroll; Slane Mill, Bellewstown race course by Jonathan Billinger; Trim courthouse, Bective abbey cloisters by John M; Loughcrew garden by Eric Jones; Laytown beach by James Allan; Dunsany castle by C O'Flanagan

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