Local knowledge: Boyne Valley
Where should you go? We ask the locals.Liz Pickett, from Laytown, Co Meath
Tell me about the Laytown Strand Races.They take place in September and have been around since the end of the 19th century. They were set up by the local parish priest. We run a group of 300-year-old thatch cottages on the beach and we’re on the three-furlong mark for the races (see cottages-ireland.com).
Visitors come from the US, Australia and all over. It is a unique one-day event. It is totally gauged by the tide. When the tide goes out they set up the course in the morning. So it is usually an evening meeting. It is a very sociable local event run on the beach under Jockey Club rules with a tote and paddocks.
Where would you go for a bite to eat?Relish Cafe is gorgeous and is situated by the beach. The local pub is the Cottage Inn and you also have McDonaghs, a lovely old thatched pub in the village of Bettystown.
Is there somewhere locally people often miss?Obviously, the Boyne Valley has the Battle of the Boyne heritage centre and other places like Newgrange. There are also stunning walks along the river where you can walk along the Boyne river to the Dublin county border. It is a beautiful walk and then you also have great walks along Slane Castle and along the Slane Ramparts walk.
Dave Robinsonowns and runs the Rathbeggan Lakes outdoor activity centre in Dunshaughlin
Why should someone visit the Boyne Valley?The Boyne Valley is really well-known all over the world and although the valley itself is fantastic, the region has a lot more to offer people other than the standard Newgrange and Hill of Tara visitor stops. For a start, we are located in south Meath, really close to the border with Dublin, and yet right out in the countryside.
Are there any historical areas that you think tourists sometimes miss?Meath is soaked in history but there’s so much that only the very dedicated will see it all. There’s lots of handy, family friendly stuff to do, such as the new heritage trail in Dunshaughlin. It takes over an hour to cover the trail and you discover lots about our little area. And it’s free.
What is there to do if it’s raining?Weather is always an issue, but I think we are finally starting to get with the raincoat and wellies programme. In terms of children, between Rathbeggan Lakes and Tayto Park we have two of the best family attractions in the country, and both have plenty of rainy-day activities.
Tell me a bit about your business and how it works.Here at Rathbeggan Lakes, we offer visitors a choice of activities, from bouncy castles to pedal boats, fishing to climbing. We charge a low entry fee, just €2 per person, and then the guests can choose from our range of activities. Most people come to us for the full day, but if you want some history as well, we would always send people up to the Hill of Tara. It’s close by and gives you a great view of the county and farther, and there’s a great little restaurant up there too called Maguire’s.
Are there any local festivals coming up?The last weekend in September is always great craic around here because that’s when we hold the Dunshaughlin Harvest Festival. It’s a great collection of rural and town, of food and music, and just brilliant fun. It really shows our little town in its best bib and tucker. See dunfest.comfor details.