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meath heritage


Loughcrew Cairns

The Loughcrew Cairns, also known as "Sliabh na gCailligh" (Hills of the Witch), are a group of Neolithic passage tombs dating to 3000 BC. These Cairns are a 10 minute drive from Clonabreany. The tombs are located on three different hills and Cairn T, one of the largest tombs in the complex, is situated on Cairnbane East. The inside of the cairns are richly decorated with megalithic art. The hilltop on which they are located offers stunning views of the surrounding counties. Loughcrew, like other megalithic passage tombs, was built to let sunlight into its long passageway on solstice or equinox days, to allow the sun to naturally light up drawings within it. This occurs on the sunrise of the autumnal (September 20th) and vernal (March 22nd) equinoxes. A key for the tombs can be obtained from the nearby Loughcrew gardens. Find out more at:


Loughcrew House and Gardens

Once part of the lands belonging to the Plunkett family, Loughcrew has a rich history and is home to Loughcrew Cairns, the largest complex of passage graves in Ireland. Loughcrew House and Gardens is an ideal place for day trips with its stunning gardens, coffee shop, historic buildings, adventure course and gilding school. The gardens are an intriguing place to take a walk through gardening and archaeological history. Loughcrew House and Gardens are a 10 minute drive from Clonabreany House and special offers are available for Clonabreany House guests. Find out more at:


Clonabreany Graveyard

This site is a 10 minute walk from Clonabreany House. In the graveyard of Bobsville is a large upright stone bearing many cupmarks, and a large wedge-shaped depression. The graves of the burial-ground are all set into a rather large mound, 3 to 4 metres high and about 40 metres in diameter: possibly a passage-tomb that the cupmarked stone came from or was set up on. Set into the wall by the gate there are some decorated cross-slabs of the 11th century. It is possible to see the inscriptions on some of the slabs. Find out more at:



Kells is one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland. It is over a thousand years old and has its ancient and medieval remains everywhere in evidence. A walk through the town will lead visitors to realise that its physical treasures are the monastic layout of the town, the Monastic enclosure with the High Crosses, Round Tower, St. Colmcille's House and the famous Scriptural Market Cross which now dominates the entrance to the Heritage Centre. Find out more at:


Fore Abbey

Fore Abbey is effectively the last trace of the once powerful Benedictine order in Ireland, investing the site with historical importance. The size and location of the ruins, however, will be more important to most visitors. Both are impressive and make for an ideal photo opportunity. Nearby outbuildings, further churches and Fore village (once a fortified town) add to the attraction. Find out more at:


Kieran's Well

This is one of the most beautiful holy wells in Ireland. The well was reputedly formed at St Kieran's command. The well feeds a number of pools and these have supposed healing powers. St. Kieran died in 770 A.D. and a story is told how three cooked fish appear in the well at midnight on the first Saturday of August. They swim out of the rocks and cross each other before disappearing again for another year. Castlekeiran highcrosses are a 10 minute walk from the wells and are also worth a visit.



Castlekeiran is a 15 minute drive from Clonabreany in the direction of Kells. It is a graveyard that was once a monastic site that includes an Ogham Stone. The monastery was founded here by Saint Kieran and was raided by the Vikings in 949 AD. It was later burned by Dermot MacMurrough.


Hill of Tara

The Hill of Tara (Teamhair na Rí, "Hill of the Kings"), contains a number of ancient monuments, and, according to tradition, was the seat of Ard Rí na héireann, or the High King of Ireland. At the summit of the hill, to the north of the ridge, is an oval Iron Age hilltop enclosure, measuring 318 metres north-south by 264 metres east- west and enclosed by an internal ditch and external bank, known as Ríth na Ríogh (the Fort of the Kings, also known as the Royal Enclosure). To the north of the ring- forts is a small Neolithic passage tomb known as Dumha na nGiall (the Mound of the Hostages), which was constructed around 3,400 BC.


Br? na B?inne Visitor Center (Newgrange and Knowth)

The Brí na Báinne Visitor Centre is the starting point for all visits to the monuments of Newgrange and Knowth in Ireland. The Visitor Centre is located near the village of Donore, County Meath. Newgrange a passage tomb of the Brí na Báinne complex and one of the most famous prehistoric sites in the world. The massive complex of Newgrange was originally built between 3100 and 2900 BC, meaning that it is approximately 5,000 years old. According to Carbon-14 dates, it is more than 500 years older than the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, and predates Stonehenge by about 1,000 years.



Trim Castle on the shores of the Boyne covers an area of 30,000 m?. It is the remains of Ireland's largest castle. It was built primarily by Hugh de Lacy and his son Walter. The castle site was chosen because it is on raised ground, overlooking a fording point over the River Boyne. The castle was an important early medieval ecclesiastical and royal site, and although the site is about 25 miles from the Irish Sea, it was accessible in medieval times by boat up the River Boyne. It fell into decline in the 16th century but was refortified during the Cromwellian wars in the 1640s. More recently, the castle was used on the production of the film "Braveheart". Find out more at:



Oldcastle is the 18th century creation of the Naper family who had received parts of the Plunkett estate following the Cromwellian wars. St. Oliver Plunkett, a 17th century Archbishop of Armagh, who was hung, drawn & quartered in Tyburn, London in 1681 on false charges, was the most famous member of this family. Politically and culturally, the area has a strong tradition of support for republicanism, the Gaelic Athletic Association and Comhaltas Ceoltóir Éireann; a local paper published in the town in the early 1900s gave its name to one of the Irish political parties, Sinn Féin. Oldcastle is a lively town with a variety of different bars, night clubs and restaurants, many providing live music and entertainment at the weekends.



Mullagh was the birthplace of St Kilian in 640 AD. During his mission to modern-day Germany, Kilian was martyred, and is now one of the patron saints of Wúrzburg in Germany. His life and death are represented through artefacts and an audio-visual presentation in St Kilian's heritage centre. One of the few Ogham stones in Cavan can also be seen at the centre. Ruins of an earlier church "Teampeall Ceallaigh" remain in what is now part of the Church of Ireland grounds. Those interested in horticulture will enjoy a visit to Lakeview gardens overlooking Mullagh Lake, which contains many rare and unusual plants. Contact St Kilian's Heritage Centre (046) 9642433 for further information.



The town of Virginia, named for Queen Elizabeth "the Virgin Queen", is sited on the shores of Lough Ramor. Virginia is a lively town boasting four hotels, a caravan park, several restaurants, a nine-hole golf course, beautiful woodland walk and the Ramor theatre. Virginia began as an Ulster Plantation project, where an English adventurer named John Ridgeway was granted the crown patent in August of 1612 to build a new town at Aghaler in Ballaghanea situated upon the great road between the towns of Kells and Cavan. Find out more at:



Athboy is a medieval town and some of its medieval walls still survive in the grounds of the Church of Ireland as does an interesting medieval table tomb. The birthplace of Father O'Growney who helped to revive the Irish language at the turn of the century, a statue to his memory is at Saint James Church, Athboy. Located 3km from Athboy is the Hill of Ward, one time seat of the High Kings, an Iron Age Fort. In nearby Rathcairn there is a Gaelic speaking community where visitors interested in the Irish language, Irish music and song will find much enjoyment.


Ballyjamesduff was immortalised in the famous Percy French song, 'Come back Paddy Reilly to Ballyjamesduff'. It is also home to the award-winning Cavan County Museum, which showcases the entire spectrum of Cavan's diverse culture, heritage and history. The collection comprises archaeological finds from the Stone Age to the Middle ages including the three-faced pre-Christian Corleck Head and a 1,000 year old dug-out boat. There is also a fine display of 18th - 20th Century costume, galleries on folk life, the GAA and Camogie Association.