An important and popular part of membership of the Discover Boyne Valley network is the familiarisation or 'fam' trip, where a number of sights and attractions within the Boyne Valley are visited. This is a chance of members to meet each other and visit parts of the Boyne Valley that they might not have experienced before, or hadn't visited for a number of years.
The first stop of the 2018 spring fam trip was the legendary Hill of Tara. Here the group was given a tour by one of the Discover Boyne Valley team, Dr Ciarán McDonnell, who is a historian and archaeologist. Tara is an incredibly important place within the Boyne Valley, home to prehistoric burial mounds and the ancient rituals of kingship. The group also learned that one of Ciarán's own ancestors fought at the Battle of Tara in 1798. The tour was accompanied by tea and scones in Maguires Cafe at Tara.
The next stop on the tour was the passage tomb of Fourknocks in east Meath, close to the border with county Dublin. This is a real hidden gem of the Boyne Valley; one borrows the key from a local farmer and is able to browse the monument at one's leisure. Ciaran explained to the group how Fourknocks was used for the burial of 5,000 year old cremated remains, and despite its modest exterior, it has the largest inner chamber of any passage tomb in all Ireland. The tomb also has distinctive rock art; zigzags and lozenges carved into the walls, similar to the famous spirals of Newgrange and Knowth.
After a morning of archaeology and legend the group took a leisurely and delicious lunch at the Lime Kiln Gastropub in Julianstown. There they were treated to a variety of dishes sourced from local suppliers including Coastguard Seafood (Annagassan), In Season Farm (Drogheda) and Dan Kelly Cider.
The day concluded with a visit to the Cottages Bettystown. These six beautiful 300 year old self-catering cottages are located beside the sea in Bettystown and deservedly won ‘Best Holiday Beach Home’ at the 2016 European Holiday Home Awards. Owners Liz and Roger Pickett brought the members of a tour, explaining how the reed thatch was made using traditional methods. It took a great deal of effort to convince the members to leave the cosy cottages and get back on the bus!
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