Trim is a small town on the river Boyne, containing the ruins of the largest Norman castle in Ireland. The weather looked fine last Saturday so we decided to take the bus to Trim. Public transport is excellent in Ireland and with a bus leaving Dublin every hour for Trim (and beyond) all it required from us was a pleasant 20-minute walk to the bus stop.
A 50-minute trip and we were there, leaving the bus on the outskirts of the town and walking through fields alongside the river until we came to Sheep’s Gate, the only remaining gate from the medieval town wall.
The river Boyne is of great significance in Ireland, with a spot some miles downstream from Trim being the site of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 where William III (William of Orange) defeated James II in his attempt to retake the English crown after William had deposed James the year before. It was a large-scale battle, James having 23,500 troops and William with 36,000. William’s victory ensured that Protestants remained dominant in Ireland right up until the 19th century. In fact, it is still celebrated today, the July anniversary being a public holiday in Northern Ireland and parades of Orange Lodge members often take place in towns in the North.
Once through Sheep’s Gate, you pass by a ruined tower which is the sole remnant of a 14th century abbey, St Mary’s, which was dissolved and destroyed by Henry VIII. Being able to fossick around such historic antiquities is still very fascinating for us. Then you can see the castle across the river, so over we went.
Much of it is in ruins but there is still enough in place to get a good sense of how it must have looked and operated in its heyday. The raucous voices of many large, black rooks added a suitably sinister dimension to the experience. The castle is complete enough that it was able to be used as part of the set for the film Braveheart.
We then walked through the town, admiring its smartly-painted cottages and pausing at a quaint little tearooms for coffee before heading off up the hill to St Patrick’s cathedral.
We think that if St Patrick really did set up a church at every place that claims him in Ireland, he would have been a very busy boy indeed. However, there is a strong local tradition that the site of the cathedral was where Patrick set up one of his earliest Irish churches in the 5th century. It was later the site of a 12th century Norman church and some of the relief stone sculptures in the photos below are from that time. While we were there, some of the parishioners were preparing flowers for the Easter Sunday service and we were delighted that a couple of them stopped to give us a guided tour and explain some of the history of the place. They are very proud of their stained glass window (the one on the right in the photo below) which is the first such example by prominent Victorian artist Edward Burne-Jones whose work is in many English churches and the Tate Gallery and the V & A Museum in London. Not that we had ever heard of him, but we do enjoy coming across these little nuggets of hidden history which are so common in this part of the world.
Then it was back on the bus to Dublin for a late lunch of a shared platter, Guinness and glass of Pinot Grigio at one of our neighbourhood pubs, the Brian Boru, before finally arriving home with the Irish Times weekend paper to occupy us for the rest of the day.