(IRISH INDEPENDENT, April 24th, 2015)
Okay, it would be hard to imagine Jonathan Swift, the Duke of Wellington and former All-Ireland medal-winning Meath full back Darren Fay in the same room – and even harder to imagine what they might talk about. Now Arthur Wellesley, the acknowledged military genius behind the defeat of Napoleon’s forces at Waterloo, could still learn a thing or two about defensive tactics from Fay, and maybe Swift could tap the towering defender for one of old manager Sean Boylan’s herbal remedies to tackle the chronic Mernieres disease that afflicted him.
But if the three ever did hook up, they would actually have common ground, in the shape of Trim.
Fay is a native of the Co Meath heritage town on the Boyne River, and the other two have major associations. The First Duke of Wellington spent much of his childhood at Dangan Castle, between Trim and Summerhill and when in Ireland also attended the diocesan school in Trim.
Swift, novelist, satirist, political pamphleteer and, of course, cleric, was appointed vicar in Laracor, just out the road from Trim, in 1700, and refers fondly to the town in his “Journal To Stella”. Every year the town holds a festival on satire in his honour
The name Trim comes from the Irish, Átha Troim, or “town at the ford of elder flowers” and the town, 45km north-west of Dublin. and easily accessible via the M3 and M4. is steeped in history, ancient and modern. It’s in the The Boyne Valley, one of the most important prehistoric megalithic sites in Europe, with the Neolithic passage tombs of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth.
But still dominating the town that developed around it is Trim Castle (also known as St John’s Castle), Europe’s largest Anglo-Norman castle, built in the 12th century following the Norman invasion of Ireland and overlooking a crossing on the Boyne.
Go to Trim Visitor Centre, beside the castle, to book a tour of the castle with a difference, every day from Easter Saturday to the end of October (In winter only on weekends and bank holidays), as members of the Trim Living History Group, who act as guides, will let you feel the heft of a sword, try on a closed helmet and wear chain mail as they also lead you on a walking tour around Medieval Trim.
Surrounding the castle are fascinating ruins. Stone relics abound in St Patrick’s Cathedral, its church and porch revealing a number of medieval graveslabs. St Mary’s Abbey is the remains of an Augustinian monastery founded in the 12th century and later a focal point for pilgrimage.
The Sheep Gate is the only surviving gateway of the medieval town of Trim, while the Newtown Monuments consist of a large medieval cathedral, two monasteries and small church which date from 1206.
Other items of historical interest include the Yellow Steeple, overlooking the town from a ridge directly opposite Trim Castle and standing over 120 feet tall. Formerly the belfry tower of the Augustinian Abbey of St Mary,it is so called because of its colour in the evening sunlight.
The surrounding area is dotted with the ruins of the many monasteries built on both banks of the River Boyne at the fjord which gave great access to the land for the traders and pilgrims that were traveling up river from all over Europe and as far away as Asia to sell their wares and to teach their way of life.
Very popular with tourists and locals alike is the Boyne river walk, a walkway starting at the castle park and running along the Boyne to Newtown Abbey. The total walk there and back takes about 40 minutes and the scenery and views, with the mighty Boyne as a backdrop, are quietly spectacular
The town of Trim as we know it today really took shape in the 19th century with the construction of Trim Courthouse, St Loman’s Catholic church, St Patrick’s Anglican church, the Wellington column, the current Bank of Ireland building, and Castle Street by Lord Dunsany, a major landowner.
Following the Great Famine of 1846–1849, the practices of agriculture in the hinterland altered, with a change in emphasis from tillage to stock raising. This resulted in a change in the business life of Trim. Trim developed as a market town for the productive agricultural hinterland.
This year is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, and highlights of the Waterloo 200 festival in the town, running from April 30th to May 3rd, will include the Drogheda Orchestra Collective performing musical pieces from the time, in St Patrick’s Cathedral on Loman Street, and, on May 3rd, Kevin Myers, of Independent Newspapers fame, will give a talk on the Irish involvement at Waterloo, in Summerhill community centre.
One of the more interesting modern day attractions in Trim and the surrounding areas is the Medieval Trim River Tour, run by James Murray and Dara Llewelyn of Boyne Valley Activities. As well as offering lessons in kayaking and canoeing, and archery, and leading out groups for white water rafting, the pair also take visitors out on the Boyne for a historical tour with a difference, letting them take in the local bird life, flora and fauna, while offering insights into where pilgrims settled; along with breathtaking scenery, castles and abbeys. Boyne Valley Activities was awarded the 2013 Best Tourism Small Business Award and the 2014 Eco Tourism Ireland Silver Award.
No doubt hungry and thirsty after all that messing about on the river, the party can carry on to one of the local restaurants or hostelries. Khan Spices, on Emmet Street; The Stockhouse, at Emmett House, Finnegans way; and Franzinis, on French Lane, are popular restaurants, while the best known pubs would be the James Griffin (known locally as Lenihans) on High Street, which does trad sessions on Mondays and Thursdays, the old world Macie Regans, beside St Peter’s Bridge near the town; and Brogans and the Bounty Bar, both on High Street.
As well as championship level golf courses over towards the coast in Laytown, County Louth, Baltray and Seapoint, Trim GAA Club have won the Meath Senior Football Championship once in 1962. Trim is one of the two most successful teams (the other being Kilmessan) in the Meath Senior Hurling Championship, with both clubs between them winning almost half the championships played. Trim Celtic, the local soccer club, were named FAI Club of the Year for 2014
No shopping centre, but there is a Supervalue and Lidl.
Bus Éireann operate two routes serving Trim. Route 111 from Athboy to Dublin operates hourly each way,(more often at peak times) and connections to Granard and Cavan are available at Athboy. Route 190 from Trim to Laytown via Navan and Drogheda operates every two hours each way, less often at weekends.
St Michael’s Boys and St Mary’s Girls National Schools in the grounds of St Patrick’s Catholic Church; Gaelscoil Na Boinne, on the Dublin Road, a mixed primary school; Boyne Community School, on the Dublin Road, is a mixed secondary school, and there is also Scoil Mhuire girls secondary, on Patrick’s Street.
Rosemary McKeown of Raymond Potterton reports a buoyant market. Demand did cool in the first quarter of 2015 in a lot of areas but not in Trim, she says, where property prices have increased month on month, because of Trim’s heritage town status; its good record in the Tidy Towns, and its easy commuting distance to Dublin and the airport.
The most sought after properties, as nearly always, are on the Dublin Road, where your three-bed semi in good nick, would cost an average €210,000, with four-beds going for €250,000. The Belfry, a three-bed semi on other side of town, on the Athboy Road, has an offer for €205,000, while 1 Abbey Close in Rochford Manor went for €210,000 in February and the nearby 5 Abbey Close, in need of work, went for €150,000.
In some of the older estates, like Avondale, which are less energy efficient, of course, you will get a three-bed semi for €120 to €130,000, or a four-bed requiring modernisation for €165,000,
The demand is there and Sherry Fitzgerald report a lot of interest in 18 Knightsbrook Park, a five-bedroom detached house with its own cinema, which is on offer for €340,000 and in St Jude’s, a 2928 sq ft bungalow on the Dublin road, which is asking €475,000
- Tidy, historic town, with many historical areas and items of interest
- Trim Castle
- Boyne River walk
- Fishing: the Boyne has a wide range of angling, from spring salmon to sea trout to brown trout fishing. Trim is a designated Centre of Excellence for wild brown trout fishingRegrettable
Shopping facilities could be more extensive and varied
— Enda Sheppard