If you are stuck with kids over the summer holidays it’s hard to find places to go. I hold my hands up and say that I have two toddlers 3 and 2 years old and they absolutely loved the Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre. This is not a paid for post and this was just a whim that happened over breakfast.
This post is part of the Boyne Valley Series
Getting there is really easy especially if you are near Drogheda, Co. Louth. The visitor centre is on the Oldbridge Estate and has all the visitor travel information up to date on their site here. We got a bus to Drogheda and then a taxi to the centre which cost 10 euro as we wanted to walk the Boyne Greenway home.
The idea of spending a beautiful day outdoors with both toddlers able to run and shout without annoying other visitors was so appealing we packed and left in under 15 minutes. On arrival, you are greeted by a scenic driveway which leads up to Oldbridge House built in the 1740’s. You can then chose to stay outdoors or head on into the Victorian Living History exhibit.
Victorian Living History Exhibit.
As a visitor, you can see the architecture of the estate house while following the self-guided exhibit of the events of the Battle of the Boyne. As we had toddlers this was more of a divide and conquer section to us as we both loved the rifle display and the laser exhibit of the battle itself but our kids are a little too young for this part.
However, in the courtyard, we encountered the captain of the guard who readily enlisted both my husband and my toddler in the army. After putting both through their paces and receiving the Kings coin we were able to have a look at the restored cannons and mortars in the courtyard as well as ask questions about soldiers uniforms, fighting tactics and swords. My personal favourite was holding the sabre and learning how it would have been used by that cavalry at the time.
Throughout the weekend there are displays at the front of the Estate house where you can learn about the artillery and cavalry at the time. It was fun watching the weapons being loaded and also to learn about fighting tactics of both armies at the time. For me, I was surprised how the toddlers even paid attention and the firing of the weapons are loud!
This beautiful Spanish horse is a beauty and believe it or not, this is his retirement job! The housemistress aka Lynne was amazing. She rode from the stables around the ground before taking up time in the display area. She was incredibly knowledgeable about calvary fighting tactics in the 17th century as well as how the horses were trained for battle. We took up a lot of her time with questions but both herself and the horse were patient and kind even in the heat.
For any parent of young kids, a question of whether an outing is successful depends on food. The centre has it’s own cafe with sandwiches and meals if you need them along with ice-cream and pastries. There are also picnic tables outside for those parents who can plan ahead. We had two full meals (cottage pie and lasagne) which came with side salads which were beautiful and this was the most expensive part of our trip at 20 euro but it was well worth it in my opinion.
You can easily spend 2 days at the Oldbridge Estate between demonstrations, workshops for children and the living history museum we didn’t have time to do the battlefield walk in the afternoon. There are several walks within the estate and it is perfect for just packing a lunch and going for a stroll. The longest walk was 5km around the estate but there are shorter, signposted walks too.
The Boyne Greenway
As I mentioned we took the Boyne Greenway home. It takes roughly an hour with two toddlers to walk the entire greenway. It runs from the Oldbridge Estate along the Boyne canal to the Mary McAleese Cable Bridge and then on to Dominic’s Park on the south bank of the River Boyne. We did this with a buggy and a Lilebaby carrier but both kids walked a good portion of the way. The boardwalk is beautiful and you can see lots of wildlife in the river as well as wild birds so if you want to get lost in nature on a sunny day, I also recommend this.
All in all, this was an inexpensive family day out. The highlight of the day was the staff. From the phone conversations before we got there ( I was trying to figure out if I could bring a buggy) to tickets and demonstrations and questions on the grounds and gardens, the staff were knowledgeable friendly and genuinely loved being there. They enjoyed the questions and often had more to tell you than your initial question asked. I don’t write travel or visitor posts normally but this one is well worth the visit. We loved it so much we will be returning for the ground walks before heading for Newbridge and the Boyne Valley centre.
I’ll be back with a Craft post shortly.
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All of the staff at the centre were incredible.