Heritage and Culture (3 day itinerary)
The Boyne Valley is rich in both heritage and culture. The density of Ancient, Celtic, Monastic, Viking and Norman sites in the region coupled with the history, myth and folklore make for a truly magical experience. This three day itinerary may be further enhanced if you were to organise your visit around the many festivals and events available throughout the year. Likewise there are many other great places of cultural and heritage significance in the Boyne Valley that are not mentioned below. Perhaps you may wish to extend your stay or maybe choose your own itinerary using the Boyne Valley Drive.
You will begin your journey through the Boyne Valley in the imposing medieval town of Drogheda. There’s no better way to see the town where you’ll spend your first night than by foot. A walking tour of the town should encompass Highlanes Gallery, the Millmount Museum and the Shrine to St. Oliver Plunkett at St. Peter’s Church. For details on guided tours of Drogheda check out www.drogheda.ie/boyne-valley/tours/walking-tour.html or just drop into the tourist office on West Street. Try to leave yourself enough time for a visit to Beaulieu House and Gardens before lunch.
A picnic lunch at Beaulieu House is an option or maybe you wish to sample the restaurants and cafés in Drogheda and the surrounding area.
Make your way to the nearby Monasterboice where local volunteers provide a very personal tour of one of Ireland’s earliest monasteries. The next stop is the magnificent Old Mellifont Abbey, the first Cistercian Monastery to be founded in Ireland. The interpretive centre houses a stunning model of how the monastery would have looked in the 12th century and the guided tour will live long in the memory as one of the best history lessons you’ve ever had.
Making your way towards the charming village of Slane you should stop by the Francis Ledwidge Museum and War Memorial Centre where the WW1 poet was born and today houses the poet’s works and artefacts. If you’re interested in purchasing some local art check out IrelandUpClose Fine Art Landscape Photography (www.irelandupclose.com) and Colette Gough’s work at Slane Craft Collective.
Choose from some renowned restaurants in the village of Slane and surrounding areas.
On your return to Drogheda you’re sure to find some live entertainment whether it be in the Droichead Arts Centre (www.droicheadartscentre.com), the TLT Theatre (www.thetlt.ie) or one of the towns many fine pubs and venues.
After an early start and hearty Irish breakfast set out for the Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre and wander the site of Ireland’s greatest battle. Heading towards Navan you’ll come across the jewel of the Boyne Valley, Brú na Bóinne. Enjoy guided tours of Newgrange and Knowth or perhaps you’d prefer to explore Dowth for yourself. Allow 1-2 hours for each stop. As you journey towards Navan you may wish to visit some of Meath’s craftspeople; Alison Fullam Gogan - Boyne Valley Wools (www.boynevalleywools.com), Seamus Cassidy -Wood turner and Cabinetmaker (www.seamuscassidy.ie), and Jan Muyllaert – Instrument Maker (www.irishharps.net).
Drop into the Solstice Arts Centre (www.solsticeartscentre.ie) for lunch or try one of the many fine cafés in the market town.
Whilst in the Solstice you might pick up the audio guide and brochure for the Navan Points of Pride Walking Tour. Follow the self guided tour of the town’s rich historic past and some of its more recent developments. On the other hand you may wish to spend some time at the Ramparts in Navan strolling along the banks of the Boyne to enjoy the rivers flora and fauna.
Don’t enjoy the views for too long though because you still have to get to Kells. The Kells Historic trail is peppered with monastic sites. Commence the tour at Kells Town Hall where you can collect a map or why not arrange a guided tour at www.kellsexperience.ie. Following on from this you’ll need to decide if you want to explore Girley Bog with Meath Eco Tours (www.meathecotours.com) or visit Causey Farm where you can try your hand at; brown bread making, Ceili dancing, the Irish drum, sugan rope making, hurling, milking a cow, turf cutting and working a sheepdog, see www.causey.ie for more.
For dinner check out the restaurants Kells has to offer.
After dinner make your way to Trim where you’ll spend the night. Leave yourself enough time to do the Trim Historic Trail and enjoy the many medieval ruins that the town boasts. Start your tour at Trim Visitor Centre/Trim Castle where you will find a map panel. Even if you’re tired, it’s well worth your while to visit the pubs and maybe the locals will fill you in on some of the folklore.
Following your breakfast take some time to explore the spectacular Trim Castle and drop in on a live archaeological dig at Blackfriary. Check out www.digitkids.ie and www.culturaltourismireland.ie for more details. If you can tear yourself away from Trim make your way towards Athboy and the Gaeltacht area of Rathcairn where you can try out your Irish and maybe learn a cúpla focal. An Bradán Feasa is the hub of the community and the venue of most local events so be sure to check out what’s on for your visit at www.rathcairn.com.
Grab some lunch in Athboy town before making your way back towards Trim.
Carry on through Trim to the scenic Bective Abbey and see Ireland’s second Cistercian Abbey; a daughter house to Old Mellifont. It’s a very short trip from Bective to the Hill of Tara. Try downloading the audio tour before you arrive or buy the tour on a handy souvenir player at Tara gift shop. The tour allows you to discover Tara at your own pace; it covers all the sacred monuments, the legends and the stories. Tara is the perfect way to say goodbye to the Boyne Valley with its panoramic views.
There are several bars and restaurants in the areas surrounding Tara.
If you’re looking for one last thing to do before you leave why not sample some of the pubs in Skyrne where the friendly locals will be encouraging you to come back again soon.