Trim contains more medieval buildings than any town in Ireland. Trim is situated on the banks of the River Boyne in an area of fertile plains. The town developed around Trim Castle, straddling the river to the north and west of the castle. In the 13th century the town was enclosed within a circuit of stone walls. Augustinian (1202), Franciscan (1260), and Dominican (1263) friaries were established, indicating the growing prosperity of the town. In the later medieval period Trim became an increasingly exposed frontier, standing between the (sometimes) hostile worlds of the Anglo-Normans and the Gaelic Irish. Aside from Trim Castle, which dominates the town, the fragments of the medieval town are still clearly visible.
The wall which circled the settlement is visible in part, mainly around Castle St. and Emmet St. west of the castle. The Sheep Gate is the only surviving of several medieval gateways to the town. The jagged Yellow Steeple was formerly a seven-storied church tower belonging to St Mary's Augustinian Abbey, it gets its name from the colour of the stonework in the evening sun. St Patrick's Church (Church of Ireland) is primarily a 19th century structure, though with medieval remains. The tower on its west face incorporates the arms of Richard, Duke of York, Lord of Trim and Viceroy in Ireland from 1449. Interestingly, Ireland's oldest complete and unaltered bridge (dating from 1393) crosses the Boyne at Trim.
A few kilometres downstream of Trim stand the ruins of Newtown Trim – a large medieval cathedral, two monasteries and a small church. These ruins symbolise the failed attempt by the first English Bishop of Meath, Simon de Rochfort, to establish a rival town to de Lacy's Trim.
Watch the video below which tells the hidden history of Newtown and both the archaeology and ecology of the Porch Fields, a medieval open field system that still survives and is now part of the Trim Castle River Walk that links Trim and Newtown.
Famous inhabitants of Trim
During the early 1700s Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver's Travels, lived at Lacacor, near Trim, where he served as vicar to a small congregation.
Arthur Wellesey, better known as the 1st Duke of Wellington or ‘the Iron Duke', was educated at Trim and spent much of his childhood at the nearby Dangan Castle, his father's country house (now in ruins). He was also an MP for Trim. He is credited with Napoleon's defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, and later served as Prime Minister of Great Britain (1828-30).
Don Ambrosio O'Higgins (1720 – 1801), the Spanish Viceroy of Peru and Chile, was born at Dangan Castle. His son, Bernardo O'Higgins, went on to become the ‘Liberator of Chile'.
Ireland's greatest mathematician, Sir William Rowan Hamilton (1805–1865), grew up with his uncle James Hamilton in Trim, in one of the former St. Mary's Abbey buildings beside the Yellow Steeple. He was educated in his uncle's school in St. Mary's Abbey and quickly show his potential, whilst also exploring the many archaeological sites of the Boyne Valley. William had a successful scientific career, most famously discovering the algebra of quaternions while walking along the Royal Canal in 1843.
Housed in the old Town Hall Building Trim Visitor Centre has a Medieval Armoury Tour. Here visitors can enjoy History brought back to life in an exciting way for everyone to enjoy. The Visitor Centre also has a Tourist Information Point and a Gift Shop.
Listen to some wonderful audio on Trim Castle - part of the Boyne Valley Drive