County Meath (from the Irish, Contae na Mí), whose name – like that of County Westmeath – is named after the Kingdom of Mide, meaning “the middle,” is as a matter of fact even further from the geographical centre of Ireland than its divorced counterpart. In any case, the mapmakers of the Middle Ages wouldn’t have been capable of locating the centre, so the supposed inaugural, perhaps political and spiritual core of the entire country is situated here, atop the Hill of Tara in the county town of Navan (which possesses one of a rare, few palindromic places-names on Earth, or for that matter the universe).
The site of the mythical Stone of Destiny, an ancient, pre-Celtic holy monument, was the gathering place of kings for many centuries. Legend has it that the stone would name the inheritor to the title of High King of Ireland when he set foot within its circle. Neolithic monuments, some dating back 5,000 years, enclose the surrounding hillside. The 17th century ruins of Athlumney Castle, which was set ablaze in 1649 by the Maguires before Cromwell’s men could get to it, is also located in Navan (Athumny).
Brú na Bóinne (which translates into English as “Palace of the Boyne”), a UNESCO World Heritage Site and certainly one of the most extensively and immaculately preserved Megalithic sites in Ireland, dates to as early as 3400 B.C. This archaeological ensemble incorporates the fascinating Newgrange curcus, Knowth and Dowth passage tombs, which travel some 60-80 metres into large, grassy mounds, and are said to align with the Winter solstice (when the sun is at its lowest altitude) and the Equinox (when the sun aligns with the Earth’s equator). Trim Castle, an enduring 12th century Anglo-Norman castle, sits on the bank of the Boyne. The remains of the Yellow Steeple rest nearby.
Unmissable Attractions County Meath
1. Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre (Opening Times vary from month to month, but generally the centre is open Monday to Sunday from 9.00 a.m. – 7.00 p.m. in summer)
2. Newgrange Stone Age Passage Tomb (Opening Times: Same as above) Prices: Adults €6.00 / Senior citizens and groups €5.00 / Children and students €3.00 / Family €15.00
3. Knowth Megalithic Tomb (Opening Times: Same as above)
4. Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre (Opening Times: Opening times vary from season to season, but generally the visitor centre is open Monday – Sunday from 10.00 a.m. – 5.30 p.m. in summer)
5. Sonairte Ecological Education Centre (Opening Times: Wednesday – Sunday from 10.30 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.)
6. Slane Castle (Opening Times: Sunday – Thursday from 12.00 p.m. – 5.00 p.m.)
7. The 17th century ruins of Athlumney Castle, which was set ablaze in 1649 by the Maguires before Cromwell’s men could get to it, is located in Athumny, Navan.
8. Trim Castle, an enduring 12th century Anglo-Norman castle, sits on the bank of the Boyne. The remains of the Yellow Steeple rest nearby.