From rolling hills, to mystical rivers and heritage sites that hold years of history, the Boyne Valley Drive takes you on an adventure not found anywhere else in Ireland. Explore the pretty towns and villages of Meath and Louth and be amazed at the great expanse of our great outdoors- all in the same day!
The Boyne Valley drive is 225km looped drive so you can start and end at the same place. Do the entire drive in one day or spread it over a weekend. Lay your head down in one of our many Boyne Valley accommodation providers- a list of which can be found here.
Start the drive in Drogheda heading West. Beaulieu House and gardens is the perfect place to start with a walk around their beautiful grounds. From here, take the R167 into the bustling town of Drogheda for a walk. Contact Historic Drogheda walking tours for a more indepth tour of Irelands largest town. Make sure to pop into Highlanes gallery to visit their national and international temporary exhibitions, as well as exhibitions drawn from the Drogheda Municipal Art Collection, a fascinating collection dating from the mid-18th century.
Your first stop outside of Drogheda is the Battle of the Boyne site at Old bridge house. The Battle of the Boyne is one of the most significant events in Irish history, part of a wider struggle for power across 17th century Europe. The Visitor Centre is located in the restored 18th century Old bridge House surrounded by Victorian Gardens and battle site walks.
Just down the road from Old Bridge House is Brú na Boinne. Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. The new state of the art, immersive visitor experience focuses on the monuments of the World Heritage Site during the Neolithic period. It transports visitors back 5000 years to the pinnacle of passage tomb buildings when Brú na Bóinne contained some of the largest buildings in the world.
You will probably have worked up a hunger at this stage so this is the perfect time to arrive in Navan. Grab something to eat from one of the many restaurants or cafes in town and enjoy a leisurely stroll on the Ramparts Boyne walk or discover their sculpture trail.
The first stop after Navan is the Hill of Tara. A site that has been in use for more than 5000 years as a place of burial and assembly, it grew to fame as the legendary inauguration site of the ancient High Kings of Ireland.
Further down the road, through the villages of Dunsany and Kilmessan, you will find Bective Abbey. Bective Abbey was founded in 1147 for the Cistercian Order by Murchad O'Maeil- Sheachlainn, King of Meath. It was Ireland's second Cistercian Abbey; a ‘daughter house' to nearby Mellifont.
The next part of your drive takes you into the heritage town of Trim. Trim contains more Medieval buildings than any town in Ireland. Aside from Trim Castle, which dominates the town, the fragments of the medieval town are still clearly visible.
Follow the Boyne Valley drive from Trim towards Athboy and the Hill of Ward. Tlachtgla, now known as the Hill of Ward, is an important ritual prehistoric site near the town of Athboy in Co. Meath. It comprises a quadrivallate enclosure and recent archaeological excavations at Tlachtga suggest this ancient hill was used for feasting and ceremonial gatherings. Grab a coffee in one of the great hotels or cafes in Athboy before you continue your journey.
The next stop on the drive requires your hiking boots. The view from Loughcrew Cairns is worth the short hike to the top. The Loughcrew complex is a megalithic cemetery containing around 30 passage tombs and is situated around the summit of three hills near the town of Oldcastle.
After your hike, spend some time in the beautiful town of Oldcastle. Due in part to the continuation of a Gaelic way of life, this area suffered badly during the Great Famine (1845-‘9) in comparison with richer, more arable and more progressive areas in the southern part of Co. Meath. The poorest inhabitants were obliterated by starvation and emigration. Nonetheless, land patterns still visible today reveal a strong attachment to pastoral farming of ‘Gaelic Culture'.
A short drive from Oldcastle will bring you into the town of Kells. The most famous treasure created by the community of St. Columba is the Book of Kells, a highly ornate version of the four gospels in Latin. It was written around the year 800, though it remains unclear whether it was written in whole or part at Kells. The heritage town of Kells contains many fine examples of early medieval Christian architecture, including a round tower, a monastic oratory and several beautifully-carved high crosses. The most impressive of these is the Market Cross, now located in front of the Kells Courthouse Tourism and Cultural Hub.
From Kells you are on the home stretch. The drive brings you through Donaghpatrick Church. In 1862 the London-trained Fuller had answered an advertisement for a district architect under the Irish Ecclesiastical Commissioners; he was chosen from among 97 candidates: St. Patrick`s Church is one of his finest creations.
Pass through Navan once again and head for the pretty riverside village of Slane. Visit Slane Castle and their new distillery, take a walk up to the Hill of Slane or learn all about the poet-Ledwidge- in the museum of the same name.
Old Melifont Abbey is just a few kilometres from Slane. The first Cistercian monastery in Ireland founded in 1142 by St Malachy of Armagh, its most unusual feature is the octagonal Lavabo c. 1200. The Visitor Centre houses an interesting exhibition on the work of masons in the Middle Ages with fine examples of their craft on display. Access to site by stone stairway. The site is now fully accessible.
Your second last stop on this epic drive is at the historic ruins of Monasterboice . The ruins are of an early Christian settlement in County Louth in Ireland, north of Drogheda. It was founded in the late 5th century by Saint Buithe who died around 521, and was an important centre of religion and learning until the founding of nearby Mellifont Abbey in 1142.
To finish this amazing drive pay a visit to St Peters Church in Drogheda. St. Peter's Church Is among the finest Gothic Revival Churches in Ireland and is famous for housing the shrine of St. Oliver Plunkett. The first church on this site was constructed in 1791, and the present one - built in the 1880's - incorporates elements of the earlier structure. A perfectly serene and peaceful way to end your Boyne Valley Drive.
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