“Absolutely beautiful”: Bowie on the Boyne

Published: 29 Apr 2020

 What’s better than sitting on the banks of the Boyne on a summer’s day? Not much, unless you were sitting there with music legend David Bowie. In 1987, as part of his Glass Spider tour, the late musician performed a concert on 11 July to tens of thousands of fans in the iconic Boyne Valley venue of Slane Castle.

This fantastic video from the RTE Archives shows a young Marty Whelan (now of Lyric FM fame) interviewing Bowie prior to his performance, for the programme ‘Video File’. Bowie described the Slane Castle setting as “absolutely beautiful” and said how Mick Jagger (who had played Slane with the Rolling Stones in 1982) had recommended it as “one of the most attractive sites he had ever worked”.

The iconic performer did a 2 hour show, with hits including ‘Fashion’, ‘China Girl’, ‘Heroes’ and ‘Let’s Dance’. 

The Slane Concerts have continued to this day, most recently in 2019 when Metallica took to the stage. The castle may be visited for historical tours or gourmet food in their bar and restaurant, while the former horse stables have been converted into a multi-million-euro whiskey distillery and visitor experience.

Slane Village is one of the most beautiful in the Boyne Valley, if not Ireland. It has remained largely unaltered from the 18th century, when William Burton Conyngham of Slane Castle redesigned Slane as a model village, with straight roads and pleasing architecture, including the Parochial House. It is now home to the thriving Slane Craft Collective, including Lucy O'Gorman Ceramics and Bee Free Clothing.

You can stay in comfortable hotels, luxury glamping and camping and guesthouses and visit the iconic Hill of Slane, where legend says St Patrick lit his Easter fire and brought Christianity to Ireland.

Just down the road is the Francis Ledwidge Museum, former home of the famous early 20th century poet and nationalist. Added to this is the Slane Food Circle, a group of local food and drink producers that offer tours of their farms and facilities. For all this and more call by the Slane Hub, tourist information centre for the village.

As Bowie himself surely knew, Slane an essential destination on your next visit to the Boyne Valley.