A day trip exploring Ireland

Dundalk, Ireland, is a perfect home base for discovering Ireland’s treasures. We made this town our home base for eight days, and this is an excellent example of a day trip exploring Ireland — another long day roaming the countryside south of Dundalk. So much to see.

We make up a very long list of sights we would like to see each day, knowing we will not make it to all of them in one day, but this makes our day very flexible and usually full of surprises that are not even on the list.

Castle ruins, church ruins, abbey ruins, old cemeteries, megalithic sites – these are the jewels we search for and enjoy most during our Ireland trips. I know these are not everyone’s jam, but we love the history accompanying these sites and never get tired of visiting them.

Bective Abbey

If you’re looking for a place to visit that is both historic and beautiful, you should check out Bective Abbey, our first stop of the day. This Cistercian monastery, dating back to 1147, is a hidden gem in County Meath, Ireland.

a day trip exploring Ireland

Bective Abbey was once a thriving monastery, but today it is a ghost of its former self. Here we found a tower from the 16th century and a church. Despite its ruinous state, the Abbey is still a beautiful sight and well worth visiting for any Ireland traveler.

Bective Abbey is a daughter-house to Mellifont Abbey we recently visited. A daughter-house is the name given to new foundations established by a Cistercian Abbey. Bective Abbey, seized in the 1500s as part of the Dissolution of Monasteries, is a protected National Monument today.

The Abbey by itself is well worth visiting, but we had the great fortune to meet a tourist couple from England and a solo traveler from Germany. As often is the case in Ireland, we had a drizzly rainy day, so we all huddled under cover and enjoyed a great conversation about our various travels.

a day trip exploring Ireland

The people you meet along the way make the trip even more memorable. The English couple, in their mid-80s, was originally from Ireland, and the gentleman from Germany was making good use of his last hours in Ireland until time for his afternoon flight home.


Someone has hidden a geocache at this Abbey, but we had no luck finding it once again. We were, however, privileged to share our hobby with our new friends from England. Since our meeting, I am confident they have enjoyed fun outings hunting for caches in England.


a day trip exploring Ireland

We were starving when we left Bective Abbey, and as soon as we reached the town of Trim, we parked at the first hint of a restaurant we saw. It was a delightful tiny little deli shop where we miraculously found seats and enjoyed a couple of ham toastie sandwiches.

a day trip exploring Ireland

LOOK at this parking nightmare we encountered across the street from Trim Castle. The steering wheel is on the right, remember. Wouldn’t you love to know the story of that parking situation?

Trim Castle

a day trip exploring Ireland

A few notable and impressive 1172 Trim Castle facts are: the building of Trim Castle on the River Boyne took 30 years; it is the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland; it boasts a three-story tower known as a keep, and the 1995 movie Braveheart was filmed at Trim Castle.

a day trip exploring Ireland

The Barbican Gate

The tower has 20 sides that form a crucifix shape. A moat surrounded the tower, and, in its day, the tower was invincible to attack. A guided tour of the tower is available, but we chose not to trek up the many steep and winding steps and visited only the grounds around the castle.

The Salmon of Knowledge

The Salmon story is one of those delightful Irish legends we love to learn about as we travel. This story goes that a magic fish called the Salmon of Knowledge lived in the River Boyne (also spelled Bòinne). The first person to catch and taste that fish would be the wisest of all men.

After several years, Finegas, an already sage poet, caught the fish. Finegas asked the warrior Fionn who was living with him, to cook the fish for him but not to eat any of it. As Fionn was cooking the fish, he turned it with his hand, and the fish’s skin burned his thumb.

a day trip exploring Ireland

Commemorative salmon standing along the River Boyne

He placed his thumb in his mouth to soothe the pain. Unwittingly, Fionn was the first person to taste the flesh of the Salmon of Knowledge, and he became the greatest warrior and wisest man in Ireland. Great story, huh?

Hill of Slane

The Hill of Slane was next on our list for a day trip exploring Ireland. This historical and mythological 521-foot Hill provides incredible views in every direction. The famous passage tombs of Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth, can all be seen from this Hill.

a day trip exploring Ireland

Ruins of a 16th-century church and tower that were part of a Franciscan friary are still standing at the Hill of Slane. The history of this Hill goes back to Neolithic times.

a day trip exploring Ireland

Another great Irish legend

The Paschal fire is part of the religious ceremony celebrated the night before Easter, and it was the law that no one was permitted to light a fire before King Laoghaire had lit his fire at the Hill of Tara. St. Patrick, however, defied the King and lit the first fire.

When the King discovered this disobedience, his soldiers captured and delivered St. Patrick to the King, who was likely to have him killed. The story goes that St. Patrick used a shamrock clover to explain his theory of the Holy Trinity. to the King.

He sold the King on his theory and not only was not put to death but was permitted to continue his preaching of Christianity in Ireland.

a day trip exploring Ireland

Look at the view from the Hill of Slane!

Many mythological stories and legends revolve around the Hill of Slane and are worth a Google search if interested. We spent a wonderful hour on that Hill, walking through the graveyard and admiring the ruins.


We did find the geocache located here. We don’t find too many of these geocaches, but I believe we develop more skills each time we try. At any rate, it is great fun to look for them, and we love the stories we learn as we hunt for these caches.


Our last stop of the day was at Dowth, one of the three Neolithic passage tombs that make up the Brù na Bòinne World Heritage Site. In past trips to Ireland, we have toured Newgrange and Knowth but never made it to Dowth until now.

a day trip exploring Ireland

Dowth is estimated to be over 5,000 years old but was damaged badly during excavation in 1847. The two passage tombs here are not as impressive a sight as the more famous passage tombs, and entry into the passage tomb is not permitted.

This was a full and fun-filled memory day – another grand day trip exploring Ireland. I doubt we will ever get to the end of our very long list of what we want to see and learn about in Ireland, but we will keep working at it.

Follow to read more about our Irish adventures still to come.

A day trip exploring IrelandA day trip exploring IrelandA day trip exploring Ireland

2 thoughts on “A day trip exploring Ireland

    1. Thank you; this was one of the fun days. Oh wait, they were all fun days.

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