7 ancient attractions: from Irish folklore to witch pebbles
Surrounded by castles, battlefields and burial chambers from bygone eras, Dunboyne Castle’s locality has a story or two to tell…
1. Hill of Tara
The ancient seat of the High King of Ireland, more than 140 kings are said to have reigned here over the centuries. The tale goes that – in order to be inaugurated here – kings had to drink ale and symbolically marry the goddess Maeve to qualify for high kingship. Tara is also a sacred place thought to be the entrance to the otherworld.
2. Trim Castle
This austere stone castle dates back to 1173 and is the largest Anglo-Norman Castle in Ireland. Cinema-goers may recognise it for another claim to fame…it was also one of the filming locations for Mel Gibson’s Braveheart.
3. Loughcrew Cairns
Thought to be the oldest cemetery in the world, these megalithic burial grounds date as far back as 3500 BC. The passage tombs are found on three hilltops and are aligned with the Equinox sunrise. Legend says the burial mounds were created by witches flying overhead, who dropped pebbles as they flew.
4. Bective Abbey
This Cistercian monastery was founded in 1147 – and is now a well-preserved ruin that visitors can wander around. The monastery ceased operating under the reign of Henry VIII. Centuries later, Bective Abbey found recognition again as another filming location for the Braveheart movie.
5. Battle of the Boyne site
The location of the 1690 battle when William of Orange defeated James II, the Battle of the Boyne site is a place that has gone down in the history books ever since. A peaceful spot of Irish countryside nowadays, it’s hard to imagine 23,500 Jacobite forces facing 36,000 Williamite men here.
Another of Ireland’s ancient burial sites, the 5,000-year-old Newgrange is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as the burial chambers are home to the largest collection of megalithic art in Europe. Irish folklore also names Newgrange as a dwelling place of the gods, including The Dagda – known for his magic harp which can control men’s emotions and change the seasons.
7. Dunboyne Castle
You don’t have to venture away from our hotel to find a slice of ancient Ireland. The town of Dunboyne dates back to the Middle Ages, while Dunboyne Castle itself was built as a seat for the Lords Dunboyne. It later became a convent before being converted into the Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa.
The local area surrounding Dunboyne Castle is a feast for the eyes as well as the imagination. It’s a place to mingle spa breaks with historical sightseeing, blending leisure trips with exploration and stories of times past. Just a short drive from Dublin city and Dublin Airport, a journey here is an adventure to the bewitching historical heartland of Ireland.