Guest Author - Tony King
The Boyne Valley in County Meath, lies just outside Dublin with acres of rolling hills, lush green grass, horses, cattle and a multiplicity of ancient sites.
Throughout much of the valley, the air is full of mystery and excitement. The history of the past is overwhelming and the imagination easily drifts off to the time of the High Kings, castles, invading Vikings, the itinerant monks, and the mystery and magic that was old Ireland.
The Hill of Tara, home to Ireland's high kings, is one of the most romantic and beautiful areas in all of Ireland. Set upon the grounds of what was a village specifically built for royalty, the views can leave a visitor enthralled. From one of several vantage points on the Hill, you can gaze almost as far as the eye can see into many of the adjoining counties.
Currently, the Hill of Tara is under somewhat a siege, as construction of the new M5 Highway plans to drive straight through the center of the archeological site, much to the chagrin and protest of historians and others.
“Trim Castle” is a wonderful example of a Norman Castle in Ireland. Built around 1173 and sitting on over two acres of land, it has gained world-wide attention during the past decades, when it was used as the setting for parts of Mel Gibson’s movie “Braveheart.”
Opening Times for Trim Castle: Mid June to Mid September Daily 10.00am -18.00pm
Kells, is a small market town, built adjacent to the River Blackwater in the North of County Meath and is one of the most historical towns in Ireland. It is one of the best examples of monastic settlements throughout the British Isles.
Founded in AD 559 by St. Colmcill, the settlement was later strengthened by the arrival of Monks from the Scottish Isle of Iona, who had been expelled by marauding Vikings.
Known worldwide for its famous “Book of Kells”, the small community still hosts some of the most important artifacts from Ireland's Golden Age during the 8th to the 12th century.
The Book of Kells is undoubtedly the most valuable Christian manuscript in Ireland and the original is now stored in the library of Trinity College in Dublin. It is a copy of the Gospels in Latin.
This world-famous Book was stolen in 1006 and the original, beautiful golden cover was never recovered. Also missing were sixty pages of John's gospel. It was placed in the library of Trinity College in 1661.
The banks of the Boyne is where the infamous Battle of the Boyne took place, where Protestant King William of Orange and Catholic James II of Scotland met in one of the most hotly debated battles ever fought on Irish soil. The 12th of July parades in Northern Ireland each year celebrate William’s victory and the establishment of Protestantism in Ulster.
The Hill of Slane is just to the North of the village and is associated with St. Patrick where legend claims he kindled his Paschal Fire in 433 A.D. “Christianizing one of the ancient Celtic practices of lighting fires to honor the gods.
Brú na Bóinne (Palace of the Boyne), comprises the Neolithic age burial chambers of Knowth, Dowth and Newgrange which is the most famous, being over 5,500 years old.
Knowth's two burial chambers boast the richest and largest collection of megalithic art in Europe. Further excavations are currently taking place.
Opening Times For Newgrange:
March-April Daily 10.00am-17.00pm May Daily 09.00am-18.30pm June-Mid September Daily 09.00am-19.00pm Mid-End September Daily 09.00am-18.30pm October Daily 09.30am-17.30pm November-February Daily 09.30am-17.00pm