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Aran Inspired

The Hill of Tara

Around 5,000 years old, the Hill of Tara in County Meath was the seat of power for ancient Ireland's high kings. Less than an hour's drive from Dublin, Tara has an innocuously serene rural setting, yet a high concentration of ancient ceremonial monuments have been uncovered at the location, which has not been thoroughly excavated.

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Kells

The town of Kells was originally known as Ceannus Mor, meaning “Great Residence”. Founded as a monastic settlement by St Columcille in the 6th century, the original settlement was built on a circular pattern, still evidenced by the current layout of the modern streets.

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Newgrange

Built 1,000 years before Stonehenge, Newgrange is Ireland’s best-known prehistoric monument. Located in the Boyne Valley, County Meath, it is arguably Europe’s finest example of a megalithic passage grave. According to the most reliable Carbon 14 dating technique carried out at Newgrange, the structure was erected around 3200 BC, 600 years before the Giza Pyramids in Cairo. Built atop a small hillock, the tomb consists of a vast stone and turf mound about 85 metres in diameter and 13.5 metres high.

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Trim

Located along the banks of the beautiful River Boyne, Trim is a tiny town containing many heritage sites and well preserved ruins dating back to the medieval period. Fortification walls were erected along the perimeter of Trim at the direction of King Edward III in 1359, and Trim became an important settlement. It also became a centre for government when several 15th century parliamentary assemblies gathered there. Oliver Cromwell eventually attacked the town, and many citizens were murdered in the resulting takeover. The town’s name is derived from Baile Atha Troim, which is Irish for ‘town of the ford of the alder trees.’ This historical and scenic area of Trim, including Trim Castle, was used for a portion of the filming of Braveheart in 1994-95.

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Newtown Cathedral and Monuments

At one time the largest church in Ireland, Newtown Cathedral's ruins can be found along the banks of the River Boyne. It is one of many ecclesiastical sites in and around Trim, and is only a 15 minute walk from Trim Castle. There are several monuments at this site (all in ruins), which is also known as Newtown Abbey. Newtown Cathedral -- a large medieval cathedral, also known as St Peter and Paul Cathedral.

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Loughcrew Cairns

One of Ireland's less well-known archaeological gems, this cluster of ancient tombs survives from 3000 B.C. The cairns are called passage tombs, a type commonly erected in the Neolithic Era. They cover three adjacent hilltops, sometimes called the “Hills of the Witch”. Tomb T is one of the biggest and houses extraordinary pieces of Neolithic art in its cross shaped chamber, which is perfectly lit by the rays of the rising sun at both equinoxes. Also notable is Cairn L located on Cairnbane West, which is enclosed and contains very well persevered ancient symbols etched into the rocks. These cairns are among the most impressive in all of Ireland and are situated atop very high hills that allow visitors to enjoy excellent views of the surrounding area.

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Navan

The town of Navan is the current administrative centre of County Meath, although traditionally that honor was held by Trim. Navan is strategically located where the Rivers Blackwater and Boyne meet, and has a long history of mining and market activities that have supported its economy over the centuries. The ruins of several prehistoric settlements can be seen nearby. Hugh de Lacy, who owned Trim as well as its castle, also directed the construction of fortifications around Navan in the 12th century. His aim was to create a strong fortress to defend the eastern edge of the Pale.

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St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Navan

One of two churches in close proximity, Saint Mary's Catholic Church was built in 1839. (Nearby, Navan has an Anglican (Protestant) Church, also called Saint Mary's.) The Catholic St. Mary's is notable for its unusual interior design, which according to local history, was fashioned after a French Opera House. St. Mary's houses an beautiful 18th century, life-sized wooden sculpture of the Christ on the cross, created by Edward Smyth. The large cross hangs, pride of place in the church, over the altar.

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The Motte of Navan

This large mound of earth just outside the town of Navan at Moatlands, and has origins steeped in legend. It is said that the mound was originally created as the tomb of a woman named Odhbha, who died of a broken heart when her husband, a Celtic king, abandoned her. Some say that the mound appeared as a result of natural processes. There are no visible structures on the Motte of Navan today, but a Norman baron, D’Angelo, is said to have erected a motte and bailey here in the 12th century. Motte and bailey represented a traditional Norman style of castle construction during the medieval period.

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Bective Abbey

Located about 6 km / 4 miles from Trim Castle, and used as a location for Mel Gibson's 1995 movie Braveheart, Bective Abbey on the River Boyne dates to the 12th century. Although the ruin consists only of walls and architectural features (no interior rooms remain), these are remarkably well preserved compared to many other abbey and castle ruins from that period. The abbey was rebuilt and fortified three times during the middle ages; nothing of the very first abbey remains. Today it arguably resembles a castle more than a monastery.

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