Unlock the myths and secrets of ancient, pastoral lands

Route:

Meath to Louth via Cavan


Features:

Brú na Bóinne, Hill of Slane, Loughcrew Cairns, Cavan Burren Geopark

Journey Overview:

Dive into three days – and 5,000 years – of myth, magic and ancient rituals in the lush fields of Meath, Cavan and Louth. From the mysterious Newgrange built for the winter solstice, past Neolithic tombs decorated with breathtaking art, through to the eerie landscape of the Cavan Burren (with a stop at an award-winning restaurant). If it’s legend, history, great food, jaw-dropping art and beautiful countryside you’re after, relax – you’re here.

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Day

Day 1
Sitting in the shadow of Slane Castle

Day 1

  • 0 hrs
  • 45 mins
  • 40 km
  • 25 miles

Route:

Meath


Points Of Interest:

Brú na Bóinne, Hill of Slane, Slane Castle, Kells High Cross

Engage With The Stories:

Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre

Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre

Guided tours will illuminate the entire experience of Newgrange and Knowth. Check in advance for timings.


Journey Overview:

The pretty, sleepy Boyne Valley hides a wonder that’s older than the pyramids of Giza. Enter the Brú na Boinne Visitor Centre, and it's your key to 5,000-year-old ingenuity at Newgrange, the passage tomb built to line up with the first rays of sunlight on the winter solstice, and the equally incredible burial mounds of Knowth and Dowth.

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Nearby lies the Hill of Slane, where St Patrick lit his paschal fire. It’s also the final resting place of Sláine mac Dela, legendary first High King of Ireland. Visit Slane Castle – home to Henry Conyngham, 8th Marquess Conyngham and well known for its massive outdoor rock concerts. Swap four wheels for two with an electric bike tour around Slane, or take the Girley Bog loop walk. Final stop, Kells. The famous book was finished here, smuggled from Iona by 9th century monks fleeing Viking raids. Ancient history is everywhere in this bustling town, with the carved high crosses, oratory and round tower still whispering of the holy men and artists who lived here. Try the Bookmarket café for books and coffee, or the Butterfly Café for wonderful cakes – then walk them off with a guided tour of the town. 

If you have more time

Reserve your table at award-winning Brabazon Restaurant at Tankardstown, near Slane, and dine out on its seven-course tasting menu from land & sea. Delicious.

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Day 2
A circle of standing stones at Loughcrew Cairns

Day 2

  • 0 hrs
  • 55 mins
  • 52 km
  • 32 miles

Route:

Meath to Cavan


Points Of Interest:

Loughcrew Cairns, Loughcrew Gardens, Cavan County Museum

Engage With The Stories:

Loughcrew Nature Walk

Loughcrew Nature Walk

Find yourself at one with nature on the Loughcrew Gardens' Lake Walk, where you'll encounter a church, a fairy fort, a crannog, and more than a few wild rhododendrons.


Journey Overview:

Mind your manners, you’ve strayed into the land of witches and fairies. County Meath is the home of Halloween: the Samhain Festival is big news here, and legend has it that the Loughcrew Cairns was made when a witch dropped an apron full of rocks while she leaped across mountains.

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Witch or no, its 30 or so tombs are said to make up the world’s oldest cemetery. The site is as old as Newgrange, and it has the same eerie atmosphere. Ready to meet some fairies? Stroll through the woods at Loughcrew Gardens, where you’re sure of a big surprise! Fantasy sculptures, a “grotesque grotto” with tortured pillars and frescoes, even a canal and a fairy ring are dotted through these gardens, a labour of love that have been evolving for 300 years. Know anyone who lives the Life of Reilly? They’re named after the O’Reilly clan, who made a fortune from the market they founded in 14th century Cavan. Speaking of which, Cavan County Museum in Ballyjamesduff is a treasure trove located in an old convent: you’ll find all sorts here, including a replica WWI trench and a 1,000-year-old log boat.
 

If you have more time:

For dinner, treat yourself at one of the country’s most famous restaurants: MacNean House, County Cavan. Run by Neven Maguire, taste his award-winning food, including quail, halibut and pumpkin dishes.

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Day 3
View from the walled garden at Beaulieu House

Day 3

  • 2 hrs
  • 45 mins
  • 182 km
  • 113 miles

Route:

Cavan to Meath


Points Of Interest:

Cavan Burren Park, Shannon Pot, St Peter’s Church, Beaulieu House and Gardens

Engage With The Stories:

Seamus Ó hUltacháin

Seamus Ó hUltacháin

Local historian and amateur archaeologist Seamus uncovers layers of human and natural history in the Cavan Burren Park.


Journey Overview:

Legend has it that a young giant fell to his death trying to win over a girl, giving Giant’s Leap chasm in the Cavan Burren its name.

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This is just one of the tales that make this land so fascinating. Lapped by ancient tropical seas then frozen through several ice ages, early man made his home and stayed here for thousands of years. Neolithic tombs, hut sites and ancient rock art live alongside 19th century ruins. Nearby is the Shannon Pot, source of the River Shannon and named after Síonnan, granddaughter of Lir, god of the sea, who came here looking for the salmon of wisdom and was drowned for her trouble. An even nastier death befell St Oliver Plunkett, whose head is splendidly enshrined in St Peter’s Church in Drogheda, our next stop. After a blatantly corrupt trial, Plunkett was found guilty of treason and hung, drawn and quartered. Gruesome rumour has it that his beard still grows. For a slightly cheerier history lesson, head through pretty lanes west of Drogheda to Beaulieu House and Gardens, a 17th century jewel of a house that has been home to two influential families, the Plunketts and the Tichbournes, for more than 800 years.
 

If you have more time:

Stop for a bite at Scholar Townhouse Hotel in Drogheda, a welcoming spot with open fires, a fresco of the Battle of the Boyne and a menu that uses fantastic local ingredients, including Coolattin cheddar, Stagrennan farm apples and homemade breads.
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