County Meath Overview
- Fresh Eire
- Country life
- Fast horses and slow rivers
Although close to the city thrills of bustling Dublin, Meath has an enchantingly relaxed pace all of its own.
As the seat of the legendary High Kings of Ireland, the deep green pastures of this northeastern county are the ancient royal heartlands of the aptly named Emerald Isle. The racecourses may occasionally thunder under the fleet hooves of Irish thoroughbreds, but time – like the silvery rivers teeming with trout and salmon – flows softly through this land. You can explore the ageless charm of the Royal County on foot, on horseback or by hot‑air balloon; browse the stalls of farmers’ markets groaning with fresh organic produce; or happen upon ancient, myth-rich Celtic hill forts. And, once you’ve allowed the slow pulse of Meath to seep into your veins, there can be nothing more pleasurable than luxuriating with a summer picnic on the banks of the Boyne, under the long shadows of mighty Trim Castle.
Completely County Meath
The Hill of Tara has huge historical, spiritual and mythical significance. Although its history spans four millennia, all that remains of the royal fortress (apart from heart-stopping views) are its mighty earthworks and the Lia Fáil or ‘Stone of Destiny’. The stone is said to be magical, and will apparently roar if the rightful king of Ireland puts his feet on it. Well, it’s worth a try!
- Minicabs are your only option here: Navan Free Phone Cabs operates 24 hours a day and can be contacted locally on 1800 313233. Otherwise, ask your hotel to book your transport.
- Tipping culture
- About 15 per cent is appreciated.
- Packing tips
- Bring your riding and fishing gear: Meath is famous for both activities, and it’s claimed that steeds run faster and jump higher here. Local legend also has it that the fish in the county’s rivers can talk. Blarney, no doubt.
- Recommended reads
- The Complete Poems of Francis Ledwidge – the poet hailed from Slane. Or tuck into a book by an author who lived in Meath: Lord Dunsany’s The Gods of Pegana, or Mary Lavin’s The Shrine and Other Stories.
- Regional specialities
- The wild brown trout, salmon and sea trout from Meath’s rivers are delicious; tasty Dublin Bay prawns are actually a species of lobster. Try Irish soda bread, perhaps with a hunk of Glebe Brethan cheese from Tiernans farm in Dunleer (www.glebebrethan.com), or the county’s whiskey_laced fruitcakes. Purists may prefer to drink the whiskey itself – the Cooley distillery, along the coast in Dundalk, produces both Connemara and Knappogue Castle (www.cooleywhiskey.com).
- Euro (€).
- Time zone
- GMT +1.
- Dialling codes
- Country code for Ireland: +353. Navan: (0)46.
- Do go/don't go
- There are two seasons in County Meath: the Flat season and the National Hunt season. Rainfall is quite high but that creates the fish-filled rivers and the luminous green of the countryside – when the sun shines you’ll realise why it’s called the Emerald Isle.
Don't go home without...
… putting some money on the horses. There are some fantastic racecourses in County Meath, including Bellewstown (www.bellewstownraces.ie) and Fairyhouse (www.fairyhouse racecourse.ie), the home of the Irish Grand National on Easter Monday. At the annual Laytown meeting, the horses actually race along the beach (+353 (0)41 984 2111).