What To Do On a Summer's Day

As any Irish person will tell you, if the sun is out and there's few or no clouds in the sky, it's a Summer's Day. A very light shower might be tolerated but really it's all about the sunshine. In fact, the time of the year isn't even that important so long as the sun is out. So, given the nice weather we've been having this week I thought I'd share some of the awesome places we like to go on a Summer's Day.

While we're a big fan of activities like Dublin Zoo, Viking Splash Tours, Imaginosity and Tayto Park, I'll concentrate on local Louth destinations simply because I think there are probably enough posts and comments out there on activities like them.

While Louth may be the smallest county in the country, there are no shortage of great places to go with the family. Not all of these are outside activities but as this is all about Summer and what to do with a nice Summer's Day, I'll be ignoring the in-doors stuff. So no mention of Funtasia or the cinema etc., instead I'd like to give you a snapshot view into four excellent houses, gardens and nature locations that the Wee County has to offer.

Clogherhead Beach & Harbour

So where to start? That one's easy. The best place to start, in my opinion, is right here on our doorstep. Just outside Drogheda is the little fishing village of Clogherhead. Clogherhead is basically a single street village with housing development at each end. Aside from the three pubs, the butchers, the convenience shop, the post office and the few eateries, Clogherhead boasts a magnificent Blue Flag beach. Nothing says Summer's Day like a trip to the beach and Clogherhead offers one of the nicest beaches in Ireland. Just across the headland is Port Oriel, Clogherhead's harbour. Another lovely spot to visit to see the fishing boats coming and going, to sample the local chowder and to watch the dozen or so seals who frequent the harbour looking for generous fishermen to share their catches. If you're in Drogheda and want to get some great sea air, take in spectacular views of the North East Coast and shop for some fresh off the boat seafood, Clogherhead is the only place to go!

Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth

Newgrange is a prehistoric monument located about 1km north of the River Boyne. Newgrange consists of a large circular mound with a stone passageway and interior chambers. The mound has a retaining wall at the front and is ringed by 97 large engraved kerbstones. Newgrange was built by a farming community that prospered on the rich lands of the Boyne Valley during the Neolithic period approx. 3200 BC. That makes Newgrange older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids of Giza. Knowth and Dowth are similar, smaller mounds that are located close by also in the Boyne Valley area. All three sites have been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Newgrange is an absolutely must-visit for everyone who has an interest in history and Antiquity but it's also a fantastic day trip for outdoor fans of all ages. The views of the Boyne Valley are outstanding but the simple magnitude of Newgrange's construction and size will wow everyone, guaranteed.

St Peter's Roman Catholic Church

Although this one is an inside one, I think it's a cannot miss. St Peter's is located on West Street in Drogheda. It was designed by J. O'Neill and W.H. Byrne and was built in a French Gothic style with local limestone ashlar. The church is 131 years old (constructed in 1884) and most famous for it tall west gable, rose window and for containing the national shire St. Oliver Plunkett. What's that you ask? In a glittering brass-and-glass case in the north transept, the shrivelled head of St Oliver Plunkett (1629–81) is permanently on display. If you have a kid, especially a boy, who is that little bit older (say 6-12), they will be absolutely fascinated by this. An actual real human head.

Oldbridge House & Gardens

Oldbridge House was built in the 1740’s by either John Coddington or his nephew Dixie Coddington - the specifics are lost. It is believed to have been designed by George Darley, a local mason architect who also designed the renovated Dunboyne Castle, Dowth House and The Tholsel in Drogheda, Co. Louth. To the left of the house there is a cobble stone stable yard with fine cut stable block. This originally contained coach houses, stables, tack and feed rooms. To the right of the house is a small enclosed courtyard which contains the former butler’s house which is not open to the public. For me, the main attraction of Oldbridge is the grounds. To the front of the house sits a phenomenal open expanse that's perfect for running your socks off, kicking around a football or flying a kite. To the left of the house is the coffee shop and gardens. Including the secret Octagonal Garden, these gardens are a beautiful place to walk in the summer and offer numerous spots to sit in relative privacy and watch the natural world drift by.

Another important part of Oldbridge is the Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre. This is located in the restored 18th century house. For those not familiar with the local hostory... The Battle of the Boyne between King William III and his father-in-law, King James II, was fought on 1 July 1690 (11 July according to our modern calendar). Both kings commanded their armies in person, 36,000 on the Williamite side and 25,000 on the Jacobite side - the largest number of troops ever deployed on an Irish battlefield. At stake were the British throne, French dominance in Europe and Religious power in Ireland. And a story sure to engage and captivate all children.

So there you have them - four brilliant places to visit with the kids. Don't worry tough, Drogheda has a ton of other attractions and places of interest. You'll just need to do some exploring and find them for yourself :)
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