Ireland never fails to enthrall and entertain; A perennial traveller across the Irish Sea, Justine Halifax believes there's always something new to discover when you go west.Byline: Justine Halifax
Tayto Park Despite being a seasoned visitor, Ireland is somewhere I never tire of returning to discover more of its welcoming delights. And the Boyne Valley proved to be yet another feather in its cap. Situated in the North East of Southern Ireland, it is steeped in history having once been Ireland's ancient capital. To mention just a few of its cultural and historic highlights it was the site of the Battle of the Boyne Battle of the Boyne
sealed Ireland’s fate as England’s vassal state (1690). [Br. Hist.: Harbottle Battles, 39]
See : Defeat .
One of the most significant events in Irish history, it was fought in July 1690 between the Protestant King William King William may refer to:
James II, c.1260–1327, king of Aragón and count of Barcelona (1291–1327), king of Sicily (1285–95). .
The battle of rival claimants to the English, Scottish and Irish thrones resulted in the largest ever assembly of troops on an Irish battlefield.
And the Battle of the Boyne visitor centre recounts the tale in a recently restored 18th Century Oldbridge House, which is on the battlesite itself. But that's not all it boasts.
The Boyne Valley is also home to Bru Na Boinne, one of the largest and most important prehistoric megalithic meg·a·lith
A very large stone used in various prehistoric architectures or monumental styles, notably in western Europe during the second millennium b.c. sites in Europe as well as a UNESCO UNESCO: see United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.
in full United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Site.
It features three passage tombs, including the longest in Western Europe, at three sites, including Newgrange, constructed around 3,200BC making it 500 years older than the pyramids of Giza in Egypt and 1,000 years older than Stonehenge.
Visitors can access Newgrange and one of the other sites, Knowth, with guided tours from the Bru Na Boinne Visitor Centre at Donore, which features a full scale replica of the Newgrange tomb if you haven't time to explore it in situ In place. When something is "in situ," it is in its original location. .
But if history is not something that floats your boat, then there's a wealth of other attractions, including children's farms and theme parks, at your fingertips here too.
And the beautiful, five star luxury Decoy DECOY. A pond used for the breeding and maintenance of water-fowl. 11 Mod. 74, 130; S. C. 3 Salk. 9; Holt, 14 11 East, 571. Country Cottages at Garlow Cross, County Meath, proved to be a great springboard to explore the best the Boyne Valley has to offer.
Just a 45 minute drive from Dublin Airport, the site, accessed by coded electric gates - features eight adjoining cottages in an oval shaped courtyard. Ranging in size from one to four bedrooms, our home for a wonderful, relaxing week was the Forge, a beautiful three bedroomed house, which boasted geothermal underfloor heating.
On arrival we were delighted to be greeted with a complimentary bottle of wine and a basket of treats. The first floor had two large bedrooms, one with two single beds, and the other with a double and single, adjoined by a bathroom . Other houses featured jacuzzi baths.
In each bedroom there was more than ample wardrobe and drawer space and the bedrooms overlooked nothing but fields. The site itself also had a communal and games room, along with a well equipped gym.
Outside there was a children's playground, including a sandpit and swing, a BBQ BBQ barbecue area with picnic tables, and a boules alley. Children were also invited to pick freshly laid eggs from the coup on site.
There is also an on site spa called Revive Day Spa, to tempt you to ease away your tension. Therapist Barbara gave me an amazing full body massage - one of the best I've ever had, and a thoroughly relaxing and in depth, individually tailored facial. I can highly recommend both. As well as the historic sites mentioned, Decoy Country Cottages were also close to a host of other attractions, including Slane, Trim and Malahide castles.
Balrath Wood was also just a 15 minute drive away and featured a range of different walks.
But the highlight for my children, aged four and seven, had to be Causey Causey is a village in County Durham, in England. It is situated a short distance to the north of Stanley. Farm in Girley, Fordstown, a half hour drive away.
For it was just like a constant children's party for three and a half hours and all we had to do was follow them around while staff kept them entertained.
As well as clay model making, blowing giant bubbles, painting and daubing graffiti on farm walls they could also get up close to an array of animals, enjoy a nature trail and turf footing (piling up blocks of bog turf like jenga). There was also the option of getting completely covered in mud by bog jumping.
My children enjoyed it so much they even asked on the way home if we could go back again another day - a sure sign of having had a great time. They also enjoyed Tayto Park, which has been created by Ireland's crisp manufacturer. A visit here includes a self guided factory tour and large children's play area.
For an extra fee there was also a high rope walk, climbing wall, pan for gems, firing water balloons and air jumpers.
And as our home at Decoy was also just a 90 minute drive from Belfast, we jumped at the chance to take in the new and fantastic Titanic Belfast attraction. The largest Titanic visitor centre in the world, it is housed in an iconic building in Belfast's Titanic Quarter. It was an amazing all ages attraction with interactive features, including a shipyard ride, a 70ft gantry Gantry
A name for the couch or table used in a CT scan. The patient lies on the gantry while it slides into the x-ray scanner portion.
Mentioned in: Computed Tomography Scans replica, a virtual tour of the Titanic in all its glory, a cinema screening footage of the Titanic wreck as well as touch screens to explore of the wreckage and surrounding sea bed. We were very sad to leave Decoy Cottages behind but chose to make the most of our last day and headed into Dublin for the day before boarding our flight home. And no visit here would be the same without stopping off at the Guinness Storehouse.
And I can highly recommend a guided tour, for it literally did bring our visit to life taking us straight to all the highlights and enlightening us with quirky stories along the way. We ended our tour with an obligatory pint of the delicious black stuff, as well as pulling our own pint in the Guinness Academy, for which we rewarded with a certificate to take home.
The Boyne Valley afforded my family a very warm welcome and a thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing week's break.
I have no hesitation in recommending the region for couples or families to visit, and I can highly recommend a stay at Decoy Cottages too.
In fact, I can't wait to return.
Travel Facts FOR more information on Decoy Country Cottages, visit www.
decoycountrycottages.ie or telephone 00 353 (0) 46 902 6960 or email info@ decoycountrycottages.i.e. For more on the Boyne Valley visit www.discoverireland.ie/boynevalley.parking.aspx for more details.
The charming Decoy Country Cottage venue. Dublin's iconic Guinness Storehouse, where a pint of Guinness at the top is always rewarding. The impressive Titanic Belfast at night. It is the largest Titanic visitor centre in the world.