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Things to do in County Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites to visit

Where is County Meath Ireland? Some visitors won’t know County Meath but is just north of Dublin, in Ireland’s Ancient East. If you have heard of Newgrange (Brú na Bóinne), Knowth, and the Battle of the Boyne then you know Meath a little. There are many things to do in Meath and if you only have a short time on your visit to Ireland you can’t go wrong with exploring all of the attractions in Meath.

What are the top attractions to visit in County Meath? Meath is known as the “Royal County” due to its history of the Hill of Tara and the High Kings of Ireland, there are the Boyne Valley, Trim Castle, Melifont Abbey, Slane Castle and many more Irish tourist attractions in Meath to explore.

the Hill of Tara in Ireland a drone view of the area and the mounds. Things to do in Meath

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Here are the best things to do in County Meath


Right – since there is a lot to do in Meath and some of you know the most renowned sites let’s start off with the Boyne area. This is a beautiful drive if you have rented a car as it can be difficult to get to via public transport.

The first section of this guide will give you a few of the most popular places to visit in Meath. These include Newgrange, Tara, Boyne Valley, Loughcrew, Knowth and Dowth and then we move on to the many things to do in Meath that folks often miss.

A map of the Boyne Valley in Meath Ireland, The map points out some of the many attractions in County Meath.

Where is Meath Ireland?

Meath is a county in the province of Leinster, northeastern Ireland. It is bounded by Monaghan to the north, Louth, Fingal, Kildare, Offaly, Westmeath, and Cavan with the Irish sea on the border.

Boyne Valley Drive

The Boyne Valley boasts over 9000 years of history and there are many attractions in the area that are all pretty close to each other.

The River Boyne that runs through Meath in Ireland. The water is a very dark blue and the banks that surround it are covered in green grass, the trees are turning fall colours.

Battle of the Boyne

When you are in the area you must visit the Battle of the Boyne centre which commemorates the biggest battle in the history of Ireland that took place in 1690.

There’s a lot to learn here and some great displays and an audio-visual display with a huge 3-dimensional map of the battle. The grounds are pretty spectacular as well.

display outside the Battle of the Boyne Museum

Brú na Bóinne – Newgrange

What is Meath famous for? Newgrange is a Neolithic monument that was constructed about 5,200 years ago (3,200 B.C.) which makes it older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids of Giza. Designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO along with its neighbours KNowth and Dowth mounds.

Newgrange is a large circular mound 85 meters (93 yards) in diameter and 13.5 meters (15 yards) high with a 19-meter (21 yards) stone passageway and chambers inside. The mound is ringed by 97 large curbstones, some of which are engraved with symbols of megalithic art.

Newgrange one of Meath's incredible neolithic tombs. There is a white stone wall surrounding a tall green mound with an entry at the side of the mound into the tomb. There are standing stones in front of the mound.

A circle of standing stones also surrounds Newgrange. Nobody is really sure why and what they mean but it appears to be of some kind of astrological function. The Stone Circle was erected sometime after 2000 BC and research has shown that one of the stones of the circle lies directly on top of the Early Bronze Age Pit Circle.

Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre is the starting point for all visits to Newgrange and Knowth. The Visitor Centre exhibition is a fully interactive visitor experience exploring the Neolithic culture, landscape and monuments of Brú na Bóinne.

Winter Solstice at Newgrange

Each year the winter solstice event at the Newgrange tomb is a remarkable celebration, there are many who want to attend the solstice happening and they gather at dawn to see this event. There are so many and the tomb is so small that Newgrange holds a lottery every year to grant access to the few that can fit in the tomb. It must be one of those life events that will live in your memory forever.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites
©Our Irish Heritage

Knowth and Dowth

Sunset at Knowth - a neolithic tomb with large stones at the base and a green mound above it which is the tomb. There is a concrete path running around the round hill that is the tomb.

Another of the historical places in Meath to visit are Knowth and Dowth which are similar mounds to Newgrange and from the site, you can make out the front of smaller tombs throughout the valley that is waiting to be excavated.

Knowth Neolithic Passage Mound Tombs in Boyne Valley, Ireland


Knowth is known as a multi-period site meaning that it covers many hundreds of years of use. There are 18 tombs that surround the largest mound and some are older but many haven’t been excavated yet.

A close view of the green mound with an entry cut out and surrounded by stones

Dowth

Dowth is one of the tombs still to be excavated but it has been proved that two passage tombs lie within the mound.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites
©Raemond Carolan, CC BY-SA 4.0

Hill of Tara

One of the most revered and ancient historical sites in Ireland is Tara the ancient Irish seat of the High Kings. It is a huge site that is continually being investigated archaeologically.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites

Tara encompassed the Rath of the Synods, The Mound of the Hostages and the Stone of Destiny or the Lia Fáil.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites

Loughcrew Cairns

The Loughcrew megalithic site is comprised of a series of tombs spread across the hills. The most important one, known as ‘Cairn T’ is open to the public. You can go inside and see the hollow shape inside the rounded tomb. There is artwork carved onto the stones inside. The most interesting thing about the tomb is that the passage lines up with the sunrise of the equinox like Newgrange’s.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites

County Meath’s many attractions

Trim Castle

Trim Castle is the largest Norman castle in Ireland and was constructed over a thirty-year period by Hugh de Lacy and his son Walter, Trim Castle is where the movie Brave Heart, Mel Gibson’s Scottish epic was filmed. The castle is open to a guided tour only and takes around an hour and a half.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites

There are some who say the Castle is haunted Monks have been seen wandering throughout the ruins and guests in the Trim Castle Hotel (which is across the road) and some have seen nuns praying at the foot of their bed in the hotel. The hotel sits on the grounds of an old Cemetery for nuns.

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Trim Castle

During Samhain Trim has a brilliant Halloween celebration that takes place at the Castle.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites

Athlumney Castle

Athlumney Castle was first occupied by the Dowdall family. It originally consisted of a 15th-century four-story Tower house. In the 1630s, a large mullion windowed strong house was added. The house was occupied by the Maguires who in 1649 set fire to the building rather than surrender it to Cromwell’s forces who were scouring the area razing all in their path to the ground. The Castle was again set alight around the time of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 and has remained a ruin since.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites

Dunmoe Castle

Dunmoe Castle ruin sits on the banks of the River Boyne. The Castle was built in the 15th Century and was home to the D’arcy family. The Castle did originally have four turrets but now, there stands only two left. During the Cromwellian invasion in 1649, the Castle was fired upon from the South bank bypassing troops on their way from Drogheda to Athboy but avoided any real damage even during the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. It remained intact until it was destroyed by fire during the 1798 rebellion.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites
©Koosdejong, CC BY-SA 4.0

Slane Castle

Slane Castle is set on the grounds of a 1500-acre estate that has been the home of the Conyngham family since the 18th Century. Not only is it the home of the Earl of Mount Charles but it contains a whiskey distillery, a glamping site and hosts some of the world’s premier musicians at its summer concerts.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites

Slane Distillery

They turned a 250-year-old stable into one of Ireland’s most pioneering distilleries. The whiskey distillery provides tours and tasting sessions where you can learn about the history of whiskey in this fabulous setting.

Glamping at Slane Castle

Rock Farm Slane has five yurts and two shepherd huts on a 150-acre farm along the banks of the River Boyne. Suitable for everyone including children these luxurious yurts and shepherd huts are beautiful. There is a communal kitchen dining area and bathrooms and a large communal firepit with a pizza oven and you can swim in the river or use the outdoor hot tub.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites
©Hot Tub – Rock Farm Slane

Hill of Slane

The Hill of Slane rises 158m above the surrounding countryside, a commanding presence that can be admired from the Hill of Tara, a distance of 16km away.

Among the ruins of the Franciscan Monastery, which dates back to 1512, stands a remarkably preserved tower. This monastery was established on the very site where St. Erc, a devoted follower of St. Patrick, founded a monastery in earlier times.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites
©Tjp finn, CC BY-SA 4.0

The remnants of a college, originally constructed to house four priests, four lay brothers, and four choristers, still stands as a testament to the past. These structures were commissioned by the Flemings, who held the title of Barons of Slane from the 11th to the 17th centuries, specifically for the Franciscans. Along the west wall of the college quadrangle, you can see the family coat of arms of the Flemings.

Mellifont Abbey

Mellifont Abbey is a 12th-century Cistercian abbey with an incredible set of ruins that are quite breathtaking. There is an octagonal lavabo which is an ancient washing place for the monks before meals. The arches are quite Romanesque and the carvings really detailed. You can hear the river whispering in the background and if you listen carefully you can just imagine the chanting of monks as they went about their daily routines.

Mellifont Abbey

A Holy Well

County Meath is home to Ireland’s most sacred Holy Well, just outside Kells, in Carnaross. Here you will find one of the most sacred of Holy Wells in Ireland. Even before it became a Christian shrine the well was believed to be a centre of pagan rituals.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites

Even today pilgrims and visitors have maintained the custom of leaving offerings at holy wells. If a tree hangs over the well (and there is almost always a tree) it is considered sacred as well and pilgrims will tie a scrap of cloth to the tree with their prayers, there is also a holy stone which many believed cured warts once touched.

Castlekeeran

Situated in a farmer’s field in County Meath, the site of the monastery at Castlekeeran is a haunting sight. The monastery was founded by Saint Ciaran, who died around 770 AD. The monastery was raided by the Vikings in 949 and later burned by Dermot Macmurrough.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites

An Ogham Stone

The Ogham Stone is situated in Keim Churchyard at CastleKeeran. The stone was found by someone digging a grave in the cemetery, it has been placed on a ledge, against the wall of the old church the inscription reads ‘COVAGNI MAQI MUCOI LUGUNI’. This writing is translated as Cuana son of the people of Lugh.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites

Newgrange Falconry

If you fancy learning about falconry then look no further than Newgrange Falconry. Here you can take a lesson and gets some hands-on experience of flying various birds of prey. If you’ve ever wanted to get up close and personal with owls, eagles and hawks then look no further than the Newgrange Falconry.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites

Balrath Woods

If you love a walk in the woods then take the time to visit Balrath which is called Knockcomra in Gaelic. There are play areas for kids and three marked walking trails.

The Long Walk and the Nature Walk both begin shortly after leaving the car park. Follow the path from the main entrance into the woods until you see a sign for these pathways. Take a right into the woods and follow the path around. It is sign-posted. The Nature Walk is shorter than the Long Walk.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites

Monasterboice

Monasterboice is near Drogheda, and it was founded in the 5th century by St. Bhuithe, one of St. Patrick’s original followers. Today the ruins are known for one of Ireland’s best collections of high crosses, in particular, The South Cross or Cross of Muiredach, the Tall Cross or the West Cross.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites

Kells

Kells Abbey is one of Ireland’s greatest monastic settlements. Gaelic Irish for Kells means “great residence,” and it was a royal residence much like the famous Hill of Tara. It wasn`t until the 6th century that Kells came to fame as a monastic settlement. St. Colmcille or Columba was granted Kells by the High King, Diarmuid McCarroll.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites

If you are looking for things to do in Kells you can visit the place where the Book of Kells was found. Most people have heard of the Book which was found at the Abbey of Kells it remains one of Ireland’s greatest mysteries as to where it was created.

Some believe it was made in Iona Scotland at the monastery established by St. Colmcille. The 9th century period was rife with Viking attacks and it is believed that the monks relocated to Kells in Ireland perhaps bringing the book with them. The book of Kells is now kept in the library at Trinity College where every day a new page is turned.

Bective Abbey

Bective Abbey was founded in 1147 for the Cistercian Order by Murchad O’Maeil- Sheachlainn, King of Meath. Following the dissolution, the lands were rented and the monastery was used as a fortified house it was at this time that the tower was built giving the Abbey a much more imposing appearance.

bective abbey things to see on a daytrip from dublin

The remains that are now visible at the Abbey date mainly from the 13th to 15th centuries. They include the church, chapter house and cloister. The cloister ruins are particularly well-preserved and feature pointed, gothic arches typical of Cistercian architecture.

Donaghmore Round Tower

Just outside Navan, you will spot the ruins of the Donaghmore Monastic Settlement. This is one of the ancient Irish places to visit Meath Domnach Mór – the Great Church is the original Irish name and the Church was said to have been blessed by St. Patrick. As mentioned in the Book of Kells it states that the monks at Kells bought the lands for 20oz of gold.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites
©Aubrey Martin, CC BY-SA 4.0

The deeds to the land are witnessed by Ó Dunan, Bishop of the northern half of Ireland, the King of Tara and Ó Fiachiach custodian of Donaghmore. The deeds are dated before 1094 and the lands and monastery were first inhabited by celibate clergy which eventually gave way to a community of married clergy.

The monastery survived until the tenth century and the round tower that you can see today was built during the Viking invasions.

Irish Military War Museum

The Irish Military Museum And Park takes great pride in showcasing one of Europe’s most extensive collections of wartime artifacts. Recognized as one of Ireland’s top ten museums, it has earned the prestigious annual Trip Advisor Travellers’ Choice award for seven consecutive years.

Visitors can explore a diverse range of historical uniforms at the museum, including British and German uniforms from World War One, US and German uniforms from World War Two, as well as uniforms from the 1916 Irish Volunteers, and the US military and Viet Cong during the Vietnam War.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites
©Irish Military War Museum

Additionally, the museum boasts an intriguing collection of props and costumes from renowned films such as Band of Brothers, Braveheart, A Bridge Too Far, and Game of Thrones. For an immersive experience, visitors have the exciting opportunity to take a spin and even learn how to operate an FV432 APC armored personnel carrier tank!

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites
©Colin Bell/pressphotos.ie

Golf in Meath

If you are a golfing fanatic you will find some serious golf courses in Meath. From the Royal Tara to the course at Killeen Castle. There is at least a dozen golf clubs and courses in Meath that are rated excellent and the Irish Golf Advisor will provide ratings and lots more information on all these courses.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites

Glorious Beaches in Meath

Meath is actually home to several beaches and the most popular are as follows:

Bettystown Beach

One of the best beaches Bettystown is a long sandy beach that is perfect for family outings and swimming. It was on the beach here that the Tara Brooch was found by a woman who says she found a wooden box with the brooch in it.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites

Laytown Beach

Near the village of Laytown is a popular sandy beach that every year hosts a horse race right on the beach. The Laytown Races have been taking place here since 1868. The Laytown races occupy a unique position in the Irish and British racing calendar as it is the only race event run on a beach under the rules of the Turf Club

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites

Gormanstown Beach

The Meath Gold Coast is a 10km stretch of gorgeous soft sand beach running from the River Boyne to the Delvin River and it’s ideal for swimming, sand and water sports and of course horseback riding.

Things to do near Meath

Petting Farm Meath – The Open Farm

The Open Farm is a brilliant adventure for kids and adults. On the petting farm, you get to meet the farm animals including Neddy and Danny the donkeys, gather eggs from the chickens. There’s a billy goat called Steve named after Steve McQueen from the movie The Great Escape. There are the “cowdashions” Kim and Khloe, five pigs including a Vietnamese potbelly and numerous geese and ducks. There’s parking and you can take a tea break at the Donkey Shed which serves some lovely grub.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites

Causey Farm

A working farm Causey farm hosts events for most major holidays such as Halloween, Christmas and Easter and they also do team building and other corporate events. This 300-acre mixed-use farm breeds limousin-cross cattle, Belclair sheep, winter wheat, spring barley along with beets, turnips and kale.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites

You will also find a petting zoo, playground and family park for the kids. The Museum also hosts workshops and talks and guided tours.

The Spire of Lloyd

Yes, a sort of inland lighthouse – the spire of Lloyd is a Victorian Folly in the shape of a Doric column with a lantern on top. It was built so that the owner could watch horse racing. The views from the top of the Spire are off the Mourne Mountains in County Down. On Bank holiday Mondays the Spire is open to the public free of charge.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites

Babes Bridge

Said to be the oldest bridge in Ireland Babes Bridge has also been called the Robbers Bridge, Donaghmore Bridge or Mabes Bridge. It is a stone arch bridge that crosses the Boyne River. According to the Annals of the Four Masters, it was the only bridge that survived a great flood in 1330 that washed away all the Boyne bridges from Trim to Drogheda. The Annals of the Four Masters is a chronicle of medieval Irish History written in Donegal.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites

Emerald Theme Parks formerly Tayto Park

One of the many things to do with kids in Meath is to visit Emerald Park is perfect for families or adrenaline junkies that love roller coasters. The Park covers 22 hectares of land and is home to the Cu Chulainn Coaster, the largest wooden roller coaster in Europe. Lots of smaller rides and a zoo, 5-D movies and lots of junk food to eat – what more could a kid ask for?

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites

Pubs to visit in Meath

If you are looking for what to do in Meath of an evening, look for those pubs and venues that play traditional Irish music you won’t want to miss the craic in an Irish pub.

The Snailbox, Kilmoon

And now for the grown-ups, the Snailbox pub is a different kettle of fish that contains over 6000 baseball caps as its décor. If you want you can leave your cap in exchange for a Snailbox one. The pub hosts some fantastic traditional music nights and the food is pretty damn good too.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites
©Snailbox

Bradys Pub, Dunboyne

Built in 1870 Bradys pub is one of the best traditional Irish pubs in Meath and is recommended by the locals for the best Guinness around. On a Thursday you can take in a trad music night with all the singing you can join in on.

The Guinness Christmas commercial pub

A great little traditional pub it even starred in a Guinness commercial O’Connell’s pub is found in Skyrne and will fulfil all your Irish pub fantasies with its old floors, antique furniture and wooden ceiling. You won’t find craft beers here. Instead, it’s pints of plain, no food (except of course cheese & onion crisps). But there are excellent views situated as it is on the Hill of Skryne across the road from an old monastery from which you can see the Hill of Tara, Dublin Airport and parts of Co. Louth.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites

Where to stay in Meath

Tankardstown House

Exuding elegance and luxury, Tankardstown comprises an impressive 18th Century Manor House & Orangery; a central courtyard of Cottage Suites; adjacent to the Garden Village where casual Lunch and Afternoon Tea is available along with Classic Evening Dining in Brabazon Restaurant.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites

Connells House thatched Cottage

Connells House Thatched Cottage is set in Duleek and offers a restaurant and a garden. The accommodation is 30 km from Swords. The cottage has 4 bedrooms, a flat-screen TV, an equipped kitchen with a dishwasher and a microwave, a washing machine, and 3 bathrooms with a shower. Dublin is 42 km from the holiday home, while Slane is 15 km from the property.

Things to do in Meath Ireland: 37 fascinating sites

Trim Castle Hotel

This Trim Castle hotel overlooks Trim Castle, which was used, among other things, as a filming location for the film Braveheart. It offers spacious rooms with free Wi-Fi. Trim Castle is the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland. The Trim Hotel has been designed to blend in with this historic setting while providing excellent service and modern amenities. The luxurious rooms at the Trim Castle Hotel have large windows and overlook the castle and its surroundings. They include a flat-screen TV and some have a balcony.

And there you have it 37 things to do in Meath which just goes to prove it’s not a County to be missed. You can swim, play golf, ride horses on the beach, visit ancient runes and learn about Ogham it’s all here in Meath.

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Author

  • Faith was born in Ireland raised in Canada and has lived in over 10 countries in Europe including England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Spain, Northern Ireland, Wales, along with Mexico, Antigua, the US and has slow travelled to over 40 countries around the world. Graduating with a degree in Anthropology and Women's Studies Faith is a student of history, culture, community and food and has written about these topics for over 40 years.

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