Visit Co. Meath in Ireland’s Ancient East
Meath captures the magic of Ireland’s Ancient East in one county. An archeologist’s dream, Meath has recorded some of the earliest evidence of man, dating back almost 10000 years. Here is the place where early civilisations made their mark.
The Boyne Valley (Bru na Boinne) and majestic Boyne River with its plentiful supply of salmon and trout was a perfect spot for the nomadic lifestyle of Mesolithic man. These early people were hunter gatherers who lived off foods they foraged in the wild and made shelter from what was around them. Neolithic man brought the first farming and agriculture and built megalithic tombs and monuments, many of which are still in existence today in Co. Meath. Newgrange Passage Tomb is the most famous of these.
If you like legendary tales and historic locations, Meath has it all. In this county, great warriors of myth and real life fought courageous battles which changed the course of Irish history.
WHAT TO SEE IN MEATH
There are a few ‘must see’ sites in Co. Meath. Here are our suggestions:
Newgrange Passage Tomb
This amazing stone monument was constructed over 5200 years ago in Neolithic times. It has a 19 metre long passage corridor leading to burial chambers at the rear, covered by the original corballed ceiling. The tomb is contained under a big mound of earth 85 meters in diameter, with 97 kerb stones around the edge. You may wonder how they managed to build all that without the help of modern constructional equipment! Winter solstice is celebrated at Newgrange, when the rising sun shines in through the box light over the entrance of the tomb, lighting up the passage and burial chambers for a short time. Visitor places for this spectacular sight are given out by lottery from a waiting list.
But you can visit Newgrange anytime and get a guided tour which includes a reconstruction demonstration of how the light illuminates the tomb, at a certain time on the shortest day of the year, 21st December. You’ll be plunged into a complete darkness, darker than you’ve ever experienced, before an electric ‘sunrise’ gradually creeps in through the window and lights up the corridor into the burial chambers. It’s quite breathtaking! Also on site are Knowth and Dowth passage tombs.
Hill of Tara
Close to the River Boyne, the Hill of Tara is an important archeological site and renowned seat of the High Kings of Ireland. Tara was also highly respected as a sacred, spiritual place, home of gods and entrance to the ‘other world’.
Saint Patrick is said to have confronted the old religions here where they were at their strongest and most powerful. Many ancient monuments to be seen and you can learn the history of Tara at the intrepretive centre housed in an old church . Well worth a visit if its beautiful scenery painted with Irish folklore, culture and magic you want!
The Irish are famous for their spuds! Nowhere is our humble vegetable more revered and celebrated than at Tayto Park, home of Irish Tayto Crisps! The kids will love this place. You can try the Cu Chulainn Coaster, named after the legendary Irish hero, hurler and warrior. This was Ireland’s first ever roller coaster and Europe’s largest wooden roller coaster. Quite an amazing construction to behold, even if you don’t actually ride on it! Other popular daredevil attractions include the Sky Walk or Zip Line Extreme. You can also take a tour of the factory which makes Ireland’s favourite crisps! Mr Tayto, the mascot of Tayto Crisps, will be there as well!
Battle of the Boyne Site and Visitor Centre
Ireland’s most famous battle, The Battle of the Boyne, took place in 1690. King William’s troops (Williamites) of mixed European nationalities, took on the Irish and French Catholic soldiers of King James (Jacobites). Williamites outnumbered the Jacobites in the bloody battle that ensued. Thousands of men lost their lives.
You can learn all about it at the Visitor Centre in an audio visual show with weaponry displays from this important event in Irish history.
WHAT TO EAT IN MEATH
The Boyne Valley is an extremely fertile valley, with green pastures and fields galore.
The home of a new food revolution, with farmers, producers and artisans aplenty. From this prolific culinary region you’ll get wonderful dairy products, stunning cheeses and finest Irish beef. River fishing is popular, with seasonal wild salmon and trout plentiful in the Boyne River. No wonder the Boyne Valley was voted Best Foodie Destination in Ireland in a national competition in 2016.