A detailed suggested tour of the Boyne Valley, encompassing Tara, the historic grave at Newgrange, and Monasterboice. Includes driving directions.
The Hill of Tara
The Hill of Tara: This ancient site, and one of Ireland’s premier attractions, was the symbolic seat of Ireland’s High Kings until the 11th century. Some Ring Forts can be seen. It once had religious importance but this faded in Christian times. Although it may take some interpretation from the visitor center the Hill of Tara is well worth a visit. Make for Drogheda on the N51 for a lunch-time stop.
Drogheda is one of Ireland’s oldest and most historical towns. Its history extends back to the arrival of the Celts in Ireland, c200BC. Drogheda is associated with an extraordinary number of significant events in the history of Ireland – The Battle of the Boyne, St Oliver Plunkett, Poynings Law, Cromwell’s Siege and the surrender of the Irish Chieftains to the English King. This is an ideal setting to have some lunch. The next stop, Newgrange, is in the direction of Slane back on the N51.
Newgrange is undoubtedly one of Ireland’s most significant and most spectacular passage-grave (a passage tomb covered by a large mound). It dates from 300BC. It has also the special quality in that on every 21 December the sun shines directly through it, a spectacular sight indeed. Ancient artwork adorns the exterior and a guided tour will take you inside the tomb and a recreation of the winter solstice takes place. In this valley there are roughly 40 other such tombs (though smaller) and the sites are collectively known as Brú na Bróinne (pronounced “Brew na Bwinnya”). From Newgrange make for Slane on the N51 and then turn right towards Collon along the N2. From Collon turn right to get to Monasterboice.
The historic ruins of Monasterboice are of an early Christian settlement situated north of Drogheda, just off the N1. It was founded in 520 AD by St. Buite. The ruins include a Round Tower and, most famous are the three High Crosses. These crosses date back to the 10th Century. Of the same time are the West and North Crosses, which also show great craftsmanship, but have been weathered over time. The Round Tower is 35 metres tall and is in incredible condition. It was built for the monks as a safe haven against the attack of the Vikings, who settled centuries before the defeat by the King of Tara, Domhnall, in 989 AD. Monasterboice was burned in 1097 AD. From the top of the Round Tower a remarkable view can be seen for many miles, even up to the Mourne Mountains.
And so we here end our tour. To return to Dublin get onto the M1 and head south for Dublin.