Less than twenty minutes drive from Dublin, County Meath is full of the green rolling hills, narrow, winding roads, beautiful old houses and ancient history that make Ireland so special. This is the place to visit if you’ve just a few days to tour and explore and you love scenery and history. There are good links, the M3 (M for motorway), which takes you near Navan and Kells, in the heart of County Meath, and the M1 for Drogheda, near the coast.
Navan: right in the center of County Meath, Navan is largely a commuter town to Dublin. It has a pretty market square, and due to its proximity to Dublin and having the tenth largest population in Ireland (around 30,000), it has lots of hotels, B&Bs, eateries and entertainment. It’s a good central location for the County and has a range of pricing to suit any budget.
In the Navan area: Dunmore Castle, Bective Abbey, Athlumney Castle, the Ringfort at Teltown, Donaghmore Round Tower & Church.
Kells: thought to have had a monastery founded over a millennium ago (804 AD) by monks fleeing from Inner Hebrides isle Iona (Scotland) from the vikings, Kells is steeped in religious history. Today the intricate High Crosses and the Round Tower are beautiful examples of monastic art and architecture. Most famously is Kells production of the Book of Kells, which is on view at Trinity College, Dublin, though a replica is on display in Kells. At around 6,000 residents, it may not have all the accommodation and restaurants of Navan, but Kells’s smaller population might be right for those interested in experiencing life of the locals.
In the Kells area: St. Columba’s Church, Ninth & Tenth Century High Crosses, Round Tower, St. Kieran’s Well, Spire of Lloyd.
Lighter traffic roads go from one end of the County to the other and lead directly into such towns as Dunboyne, Trim, Athboy and Old Castle.
Trim: located on the River Boyne, Trim has a Anglo-Norman Castle (if we’re getting technical, it’s the largest Cambro-Norman, or Welsh Normans in Ireland). It was built by Hugh de Lacy, who’s Medieval legacy is still prominent in the County. There is an abundance of festivals in town each year. Trim has many interesting buildings and attractions, and with the bypass, it makes for a slower and quieter pace.
Oldcastle: on the tip of County Meath, in the north-west, Oldcastle is a lesser-known, lesser-traversed town, with a population of just over 2,000. There are many pre-historic monuments in the area, and Oldcastle can be clearly seen from Loughcrew, a massive tomb built before the pyramids of Egypt.
The N2 (National Primary Road) is a straight shot from the center of Dublin to Slane, an area in the Boyne Valley that is steeped in ancient history and close to attractions such as Newgrange, the Battle of the Boyne, Bru na Boinne, Hill of Slane and Slane Castle.
Slane: Just to the right of Navan and with a considerably smaller population, Slane is laid out in a very attractive way, with impressive residences flagging its center streets. The River Boyne flows past Slane, and if you were to drive up the main road, an impressive stone bridge will greet you as you pass over Boyne and into Slane. It’s also home to Slane Castle, built by the Conynghams in the 1760s. The Hill of Slane is the famous location where St. Patrick introduced Christianity to Ireland. Slane is a wonderful area, full of historical significance, that is easily accessible from Dublin, while remaining comfortable and picturesque. It’s a good place to really delve into Irish life, and a place that comes highly recommended.
For background information on Slane and its surrounding area, including places to stay, history and travel, follow the links to more in-depth posts. (Coming Soon)