Local knowledge: Boyne Valley
Is there a walk locally you like to take?For all the organised trails and tours, there are still lots of hidden country walks all over the county, and right beside us here is the old Navan to Dublin railway line. It’s a favourite ramble of ours. It’s abandoned but you can walk right along through fields and get a taste of the countryside in minutes. A group of us locally are trying to get it developed into a cycle track.
Where is good for food and drink?Fontana serves Italian food in the village and there’s the County Club. It really gives you value for money in lovely surroundings. Carberrys pub in Dunshaughlin has a great pint, regular traditional music sessions and a big open fire. Heaven.
Joe Conlon, from Athboy, Co Meath
Tell me a bit about your links to the local area.I live in Athboy and have done so all of my life. I have always had a keen interest in history and I’m the founder of Athboy Heritage Forum. Athboy is steeped in history. We are home to the birthplace of Halloween and Tlachtga, also known as the Hill of Ward.
What areas of historical significance, perhaps off the tourist track, should people visit locally?You have the walking tour of Athboy that takes in all the historical sites such as the Norman Tower, the ring fort at the Fair Green and the site of the castle of Athboy. Most important I feel is Tlachtga. This is a place that is one of the main spiritual centres of the ancient Celts. It was here on the festival of Samhain that the sacred fire was kindled. Torches were lit from this fire and carried to seven other hills around the country, including Tara and Loughcrew, and then on to light up the whole country.
Is there a town or village tourists often miss?As well as Athboy, there is Fordstown, Kells and Navan, and all these have interesting histories.
Where could a family visit with the kids?I’d suggest places like the Causey Farm in Girley, which is about three miles from Athboy on the Athboy to Kells road.
Anywhere else you’d like to highlight?Well you have the likes of Fordstown, which was the birthplace of the Moore brothers Matt, Tom, Owen, Joe and sister Mary. Matt Moore starred in the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and has his name on the Hollywood walk of fame, along with his brothers Tom and Owen.
Loughcrew and Oldcastle and Mullaghmeen Forest in THE Boyne Valley.
They’re hardly connected but high crosses/monastic site at Monasterboice and for lunch the Eastern Seaboard Bar and Grill in Drogheda is a good combination.
You must try Boyne Valley Blue cheese and The Forge Restaurant, theforgerestaurant.ie.
I spent a pleasant couple of days about Mellifont Abbey (below), Monasterboice, Newgrange and also Boyne. The Celtic crosses are majestic.
Plenty of OPW heritage attractions, for example Newgrange and the Hill of Tara, are listed at heritageireland.ie/en/midlandseastcoast.
A little bit away, but Loughcrew in Oldcastle is older than Newgrange and has Office of Public Works guides for the Cairns over the summer. Try Loughcrew Gardens for tea and homemade apple tart.