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Royal treatment Beautiful Boyne Valley boasts a wonderful mix of ancient history and top attractions

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Ancient burial mound Newgrange

Ancient burial mound Newgrange

Audrey outside Highlanes Art Gallery

Audrey outside Highlanes Art Gallery

A glimpse inside the ancient passage tomb

A glimpse inside the ancient passage tomb

Stylish family-run restaurant Sage & Stone

Stylish family-run restaurant Sage & Stone

Balreask guesthouse

Balreask guesthouse

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Ancient burial mound Newgrange

For those of us who like our hikes and history washed down with a glass of red, sometimes it’s worth taking a small detour inland to discover them.

As we begin to explore Ireland in 2022, Meath is the perfect place to start planning your adventure. While the region is home to many tracks, trails, greenways and other outdoor activities, you’ll also find everything from sandy beaches and ancient sites to old-world pubs and a vibrant arts scene.

1. TRIM CASTLE
heritageireland.ie

One look at Trim Castle’s stony outline against a dramatic Irish sky and you are immediately brought back in time. The imposing 12th-century castle has retained much of its original beauty: its 20-sided tower, thick walls and stony appearance.
Located on the banks of the River Boyne, it was the location for King John’s Castle in the Oscar-winning historical drama Braveheart starring Mel Gibson.

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A glimpse inside the ancient passage tomb

A glimpse inside the ancient passage tomb

A glimpse inside the ancient passage tomb

2. TRIM WALKING TRAILS
heritageireland.ie

Whether you decide to enjoy all Trim has to offer by boat, on foot or by bicycle, you will soon realise that you are never too far from majestic historical sites and places of great heritage interest.
At 130km, the Royal Canal Greenway is Ireland’s longest off-road cycling and walking trail, stretching through Boyne Valley for 22km, from Enfield to Longwood and the Hill of Down, then on to Westmeath.

3. HIGHLANES GALLERY
highlanes.ie

Highlanes Municipal Art Gallery, which opened in 2006, is one of Ireland’s most important visual-art spaces.
Currently, they are marking the 40th anniversary of the death of Louth-born artist Nano Reid, with a unique exhibition celebrating her life, work and legacy, which is running until January 20. Admission to the gallery is free.

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Audrey outside Highlanes Art Gallery

Audrey outside Highlanes Art Gallery

Audrey outside Highlanes Art Gallery

4. BATTLE OF THE BOYNE
battleoftheboyne.ie

The Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre is located on the recently restored, and quite imposing, 18th-century Oldbridge House, which sits on the battle site.
Displays inside the centre include a 3D model of the site, which gives a great overview of the battle, famous paintings of the battle, and an interesting documentary on the Battle of the Boyne itself. There is free access to the battle site and the formal gardens — a must-see for any history buff.

5. BRU NA BOINNE VISITOR CENTRE
heritageireland.ie

Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre is the starting point for visits to the monuments of the Unesco World Heritage sites — notably, the passage graves of Newgrange and Knowth.
The centre has an excellent display and a replica of the Newgrange tomb, which means you can experience the passage and tomb despite the actual chamber being closed at present. The guides are very knowledgeable and really help you understand the role of the tombs, their construction and importance.

6. SAGE & STONE RESTAURANT
sageandstone.com

This award-winning family-owned restaurant is a little gem of a place situated on a family farm just outside Duleek, Co Meath. Sage & Stone serves fantastic food, with service to match, from an extensive and delicious menu, using the best of local ingredients. The gift shop next door is an Aladdin’s cave of beautiful things, quirky interior accessories and gifts — a lovely place to browse after a nice lunch.
Visitors will enjoy the friendly ambience and mouth-watering food.

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Stylish family-run restaurant Sage & Stone

Stylish family-run restaurant Sage & Stone

Stylish family-run restaurant Sage & Stone

7. BALREASK BAR, RESTAURANT & GUEST ACCOMMODATION
balreask.ie

While it wouldn’t be my first choice of accommodation for a romantic getaway, it’s definitely a great base to visit the many historical landmarks in the Boyne Valley. The room itself was clean and functional, but it was the food and staff inside the restaurant that were the real winners.
I opted for the à la carte menu the evening I stayed and had warm wedges of brie and chutney (€7.90) for starters and the buttermilk chicken burger with crispy bacon, melted Cheddar cheese and chunky chips (€16.90) for mains — so filling, I couldn’t even manage a dessert. I did, however, enjoy one of the best bottles of red wine I’ve ever tasted. My only regret was having to share it with my sister.

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Balreask guesthouse

Balreask guesthouse

Balreask guesthouse

FACTFILE: BOYNE VALLEY, MEATH
See discoverboynevalley.ie

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■ Audrey Kane was a guest of Discover Boyne Valley — the official tourism marketing agency for the Boyne Valley.
■ You can find all things Boyne Valley at discoverboynevalley.ie or on Twitter
@DiscoverBoyneV and @DiscoverBoyneValley on Instagram.
■ Also check out discoverireland.ie.

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