Escape to the Boyne Valley: Memorable Experiences in Boyne Valley South (1-2 days)

The village of Dunboyne is located in the South East corner of Co Meath, close to the Dublin and Kildare borders. The bustling heart of the village is a lively place with fabulous boutiques and other retailers in abundance. It has excellent transport links and is situated on the Dublin to Longford rail line as well as being serviced by the Dublin bus (route no. 70). 

With many nearby tourist attractions Dunboyne is an ideal place from which to explore this beautiful part of the Boyne Valley.

Suggest: 1 to 2-day itinerary

Accommodation: The Boyne Valley offers a great range of first-rate accommodation for visitors to choose from, ranging from luxury hotels to cosy B&Bs and guesthouses, as well as self-catering and camping/glamping options.

Accommodation providers have the health and wellbeing of their guests to the forefront at all times, working to new guidelines issued Fáilte Ireland. For a full listing of accommodation in the Boyne Valley click here.

Day 1:

A nice way to begin your visit to the Boyne Valley is to make an appointment to visit the beautiful Kilgar Gardens, a member of the Boyne Valley Garden Trail, located just outside Kilcock. The onsite tearoom sells delicious scones and cakes and be sure to check out their Flower Farm which sells fresh cut flowers.

From here proceed to nearby Enfield, the ideal location to explore the Royal Canal Greenway. Due to officially launch in Autumn 2020, this fantastic amenity provides a safe walking and cycling environment on easy-to-negotiate terrain and is a unique way of appreciating the peace and beauty of the surrounding countryside. Taking you to the nearby locations of Longwood and Hill of Down, the Meath stretch of the greenway makes up approximately 22 km of the trail and is well worth checking out.

Did you know? The Royal Canal Greenway is the longest greenway in Ireland stretching 130km from Maynooth in Co Kildare to Clondara in Co Longford.

Returning to Enfield, visit the Hamlet Court Hotel in nearby Johnstownbridge for some lunch. With food available all day, this family-run hotel is renowned for its good food and excellent service.

After lunch continue to nearby Clonard to see evidence of its unique monastic history. Learn more about the Clonard Heritage trail here and get a feel for this quaint village which was once a European centre of education.

Did you know? The 12 holy men of Ireland who studied at Clonard were St. Ciaran of Saighir; St. Ciaran of Clonmacnoise; St. Brendan of Birr; St. Brendan of Clonfert; St. Colum of Terryglass; St. Columba of Iona; St. Mobhi of Glasnevin; St. Ruadhan of Lorrha; St. Senan of Iniscathay; St. Ninnidh of Loch Erne; St. Lasserian Mac Madfraech; St. Canice of Aghaboe

From here, continue to the heritage town of Trim. An ideal place to begin your trip is at the Trim Visitor Centre, located beside Trim Castle.  Free maps of the town and brochures on all Boyne Valley attractions are available, as well as advice on where to stay and where to dine out. The Visitor Centre is also home to the Medieval Armoury Tour where you will step back in time as your guide assists you to try out a broad sword for size, see how heavy chainmail actually felt and appreciate how much strength was required to use a longbow.

Right beside the visitor centre is the mighty Trim Castlethe largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland built in the late 12th century by Hugh de Lacy and his son Walter. Take time to explore the extensive castle-grounds and to appreciate this spectacular location.

Did you know? Trim Castle served as a ‘castle double’ for York Castle in the Oscar-winning movie ‘Braveheart’.

Following your visit to the castle, it is a good idea to have a walk around the town. There are two self-guided walks available, the Trim Castle River Walk and the Trim Historic Trail. Take in landmarks such as the St Mary’s Abbey (Boyne Valley Garden Trail member), the Yellow Steeple, the Echo Gate and the Tomb of the Jealous Man and Woman.

For dinner you will be spoiled for choice. Franzinis, The Stockhouse RestaurantKhan Spices Indian Restaurant and Brogan’s of Trim all offer a first rate dining experience in close proximity to the town centre.

Day 2:

Depending on your interests, this day could be completely set aside for a visit to one of Ireland’s favourite family attractions. Tayto Park, Ireland’s only theme park and zoo is a must on any family itinerary. From its famous Cú Chulainn rollercoaster, to its fantastic array of animal species, including its astounding World of Raptors display, it really is a great way to create some magical family memories.

For those that may prefer something a bit more sedate, there are other nearby attractions.

A real hidden gem is to be found at Fourknocks, just outside the village of Ardcath. Here you will find a 5,000 year old passage chamber tomb decorated with abstract art and bearing the first depiction of a human face found in prehistoric art in Ireland. The access key must firstly be collected from the nearby custodian of the site. A cash deposit is required and is refunded on the safe return of the key. All of this adds to the expectation of great things, and visitors are never disappointed. 

Having safely returned the key, you will now take a scenic drive to the Hill of Skryne, where fantastic views of the surrounding countryside can be enjoyed. The present ruined church and tower may date from the 15th century and once housed a shrine and relics of St Columcille.

From here continue your trip to the Hill of Tara. This special and sacred site was the inauguration site of the High Kings of Ireland with the name Tara coming from Teamhair na Rí meaning ‘sanctuary of the Kings.'  On a clear day the views are spectacular, and after your walk stop into Maguires Coffee Shop for a hot drink and one of their famous home-baked scones.

Did you know? The Hill of Tara was the scene of a battle in the 1798 Rebellion and in 1843 it is said one million people came to Tara to hear the great politician Daniel O’Connell speak

For those who enjoy a round of golf, Killeen Castle, host of the 2011 Solheim Cup, is only a short drive from here. This superb setting is guaranteed to make for an enjoyable few hours and when you’re hungry for lunch Peter’s Pub in nearby Dunshaughlin serves food all day.

Following lunch, drop by Ratoath Garden Centre, one of the largest show gardens in Ireland, and enjoy its well-stocked gift shop and the tempting Wildflower Café. Following this, take a drive to the Toradh Art Gallery which is based at the Ashbourne Library and Cultural Centre. (Monday-Friday, 9am til 5pm). 

Having appreciated the artworks on display, return to Dunboyne where a visit to the Seoid Spa at Dunboyne Castle Hotel may prove the ideal way to unwind after a busy day of touring, followed by a delicious dinner in the Ivy Restaurant or Terrace Lounge.

Did you know? Dunboyne Castle, originally home to the Butler family of Dunboyne, was destroyed during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, and was replaced in 1764 by the fine Georgian house that can be seen today.

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