Special Places Louth, Meath and Longford
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Dundalk Community Tourist Office, Market Square, Dunalk, Louth, Republic of Ireland
Of course the entire East Coast and Midlands of Ireland is a very special place. And within it are hundreds of gardens, ancient monuments, great houses, fantastic golf courses, equestrian centres, lakes and rivers and all sorts of other wonderful spots for holiday visits. This route of 550 km (345 miles) takes you through the eight counties of the Region so that you can encounter all kinds of villages and towns, farms and forests and, in each county, two extra special centres of kinds not included in the list above.
The tour begins on the south side of Drogheda, which is half an hour away from Dublin Airport and an hour or so from the ferry ports of Dublin and Dun Laoghaire. Millmount is the name of a fortified hill overlooking the town and crowned by a Martello Tower of Napoleonic vintage. Rooms in the former military barracks beside it were transformed in the 1980s to contain one man’s fantastic collection of domestic implements, guild banners and memorabilia of Ireland’s War of Independence. One of the best museums in Ireland, it is now surrounded by craft shops, an art gallery and a restaurant.
A little way to the west of Millmount is the field of the Battle of the Boyne – a small, short encounter in 1691 between two rival kings of England, backed by great European powers. Replicas of cannons and contemporary buildings mark the spot and a team of guides welcome you and tell the story of the fateful day.
Farther up the sacred River Boyne is Newgrange, the centre of one of the most important stone age monuments in world. Built some centuries before the pyramids of Egypt, by a team of highly skilled engineers and decorated by talented sculptors, Newgrange and two similar structures nearby, have been places of worship and pilgrimage for nearly five thousand years. Newgrange overlooks the left bank of the river, on the right bank is a superb modern visitor centre, with excellent exhibitions – and good food.
Go north through the historic towns of Slane and Ardee to the little village of Knockbridge and visit the charming Agnes Burns Visitor Centre. The lady of the name was a sister of the poet Robert Burns and she lived there from 1817 to 1834. Guided tours of her little cottage may be arranged, but the real attraction of the place is its friendly space, with a lovely pond, shaded by trees and fringed with reeds and abounding with ducks and their families.