Just outside Oldcastle, about thirteen miles down the road from Kells, Co Meath, sit the Loughcrew Cairns. Built more than three thousand years before the birth of Christ, these twenty-five giant Neolithic tombs are an awe-inspiring ancient wonder. Legend says that the cairns were created by a giant hag that dropped stones from her apron as she crossed the countryside, hence the name of the site 'Sliabh na Cailli', which means 'mountain of the hag'. Just like many of the other ancient tombs of Ireland, the stones inside and out are covered with carvings of hundreds of geometric shapes.
Saint Mary's Abbey:
In the town of Trim, Co. Meath, about five miles south west of Navan, are the remains of the renowned St Mary's Abbey. The Abbey is believed to be built on the site of St Patrick's first great church that was destroyed in 1108 and again in 1127, by attacking invaders who burned alive those that sought sanctuary inside. These days, all that's left of St Mary's Abbey is the forty foot high 'Yellow Steeple' that once housed the church bells. Rumour has it that the church and its steeple were used as a garrison against Oliver Cromwell's troops, before the Lord Protector had the structure destroyed.
Towering over its home town, Trim Castle is one of the best-preserved examples of an Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland. With an area of more than 320,000 square feet, Trim Castle is also the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland. Built originally in 1172 by Hugh de Lacy, the Castle was continually modified, rebuilt and expanded, by de Lacy and his son Walter, until it was finally completed around 1224. A new hall and stables and alterations to the curtain towers followed at the end of the thirteenth century, to enhance the castle that stands to this day.
Rath of the Synods:
On the legendary Hill of Tara, a short nine-mile drive from Navan, is a three-bank ringfort called the Rath of Synods. No one can confirm when it was built, but archaeological digs have uncovered artefacts from between second to fifth century AD, including Roman pieces. The nearby Protestant graveyard encroaches on the site of the fort, and it's said that Saint Patrick used to hold his early meetings there. It is also believed that pagan rituals and burials would have been performed within the earthen banks prior to this.
Battle of the Boyne:
The site of the Battle of the Boyne, which can be found along the River Boyne by the village of Drybridge, played host to one of the most significant engagements in Irish history. King James' men were eventually routed and fled beyond the River Nanny to regroup, leaving behind 1500 dead. This battle signalled the end of Catholic monarchy in the British Isles and confirmed Protestant supremacy. The battlefield lays in the shadow of the magnificent 18th century Oldbridge House and the Visitors Centre is situated inside. In the summer months, the grounds erupt with gunfire as live action battle re-enactments take place daily.