Trim is a town in County Meath 50 km northwest of Dublin. With a population in 2016 of 9194, it's nowadays primarily a commuter town for the capital, but its castle and other historic sites point to its significance in the nation's affairs. Trim is a good base for visiting the Hill of Tara - the county town of Navan is closer but lacks visitor amenities.
Trim (Baile Átha Troim, "town at the ford of elderflowers") stands at a crossing of the River Boyne, guarded by a large Norman castle. The Normans rebuilt the 5th century monastery as St Mary's Abbey, with other abbeys established at Blackfriars and at Newtown, and they walled the town. This heritage has been much assaulted over centuries of wars and tumults, but enough remains to make it worth a day or two's visit, and it's been used as a location in several films. The ambiance was much improved when town centre was bypassed in the 1980s. Trim is nowadays the national headquarters of the Office of Public Works[dead link] (Oifig na nOibreacha Poiblí) which maintains many of Ireland's sites.
Trim Tourist Office (+353 46 943 7227) is by the castle entrance. It's open M-F 09:30-17:30, Sa Su 12:00-16:00.
Bus Éireann 111 runs hourly from Dublin Busáras via Batterstown to Trim (one hour) and continues to Athboy. Bus 111X is a commuter special M-F.
109B runs from Dublin Busáras every two hours via Blanchardstown, Dunshaughlin and Kilmessan to Trim, taking 75 min.
From the airport take Bus 109A (heading for Kells) and change at Dunshaughlin (except on the one bus a day that serves Trim). At night Bus 109A starts from city centre.
Bus 190 runs hourly from Drogheda (for trains from Belfast) via Slane, Navan and Connell's Cross (for Bective Abbey), taking an hour to Trim.
The buses make several stops in Trim including by the castle entrance. For route maps and stop locations, see the TFI route mapper.
By road from Dublin follow M3 to junction 6 at Dunshaughlin then R125 / R154 north; reckon just under an hour.
You can walk to Newtown Abbey along the riverbank. You need wheels for the outlying sites.
- 1 Trim Castle, Castle St, Trim C15 HN90, ☏ . Daily 10:00-17:00. Substantial remains of a large Norman castle, built from 1174 by Hugh de Lacy, smashed up the moment his back was turned by Irish king Rory O'Connor, then rebuilt to 1224. It was captured but only slightly damaged in later upheavals, so it's well-preserved and makes a great movie location - in Braveheart it was used for York Castle. There's a long curtain wall on three sides, with the river protecting the other side; there's also a moat ditch and various barbicans and sally-ports. The sturdy 3-story keep, unusually, is cruciform. It contained two great halls but is nowadays hollow. In 1465 King Edward IV made it a capital offence not only to rob, but to be going to rob at some unspecified time in the future, so the ten beheaded men found buried by the keep in 1971 were either thieves or a time-loop contradiction. Adult €5, conc €4, child €3.
- St Mary's Abbey is the ruin facing the castle across the river. Supposedly founded by St Patrick, it was twice burnt down in the 12th century, along with everyone who'd taken refuge inside. It became an Augustinian abbey and probably a stone structure later that century, but burned again in 1368. Rebuilt, the abbey acquired a statue of the Virgin Mary that became revered across Ireland, drawing pilgrims and royal patronage for its supposed healing powers. But come the Dissolution this too was ceremonially burned, and the abbey wrecked for the final time. There wasn't really anything left to destroy when Oliver Cromwell's forces arrived in 1649 but (through force of habit) he destroyed anyway. The only substantial remnant is the 40 m bell tower: this catches the sunset as seen from town so it's dubbed the Yellow Steeple. The area is free to stroll 24 hours.
- Talbot Castle next to the "steeple" is a fortified manor house built in 1415 with stone taken from the abbey - Talbot himself was bested at Orleans by Joan of Arc, but lived to fight again. The castle was owned in the 18th century by Stella Johnson, mistress of Jonathan Swift, who somehow had to fit in seeing her and other paramours, finishing his doctoral thesis, writing Gulliver's Travels, intriguing with the Tory government, and his day-job as Dean of St Patrick's Cathedral Dublin. In the 19th century it was a school, and one pupil was Arthur Wellesley, the future town MP and Duke of Wellington. No tours.
- Porchfields are the green space stretching east of the abbey, now bisected by the R154 and used for outdoor events. Reach them by the footbridge across the river by the castle; the path continues downstream from Sheep Gate to Newtown Abbey. The name is probably from "perch", the 16.5 foot width of a medieval farming strip (or, if you insist, 5.0292 m). That was the length of a surveyor's rod, pole or perch, from the pertica or military pike used since Roman times. Forty perches make a furlong, 8 furlongs make a mile, and one furlong by one furlong square makes an acre - who needs laser, computer and GPS assistance for surveying?
- Trim town walls were erected circa 1290, when the lord of Trim was granted "murage" - the right to tax goods coming into town, to fund the construction of walls. They enclosed roughly an oblong 700 m north-south and 300 m east-west, both sides of the river with the castle compound in the southeast corner. The only physical remnants are Sheep Gate on the riverbank near the abbey, and some western sections along St Lomas Street down to Emmett Street; other parts are recalled in street names such as Navan Gate and Abbey Gate.
- The bridge over the Boyne on Bridge St may well be Ireland'd oldest surviving intact bridge, repaired but not altered since 1393. The core of the town is south of here with the castle, courthouse and town hall.
- 2 Trim Cathedral (St Patrick's), St Loman's Street. The present church is from 1803, though the tower was part of its 15th century predecessor, and there are yet older scraps behind. It was upgraded to cathedral in 1955 and remains an active C of I (Anglican) church.
- Black Friary remains an archaeology research site. It was a Dominican Friary established in 1263 and dissolved in 1540. Its graveyard remained in use to the 18th century as a cillín cemetery for those not permitted to lie in consecrated ground: stillborn and unbaptized infants, suicides and the mentally infirm, beggars, executed criminals, and shipwreck victims.
- 3 Newtown Abbey (Cathedral of St Peter and Paul), De Granville Court, Trim C15 T973. 24 hours. The cathedral is the main remnant of the Augustinian abbey founded in 1206. In 1307 its prior was put on trial for the murder of two of the canons, but the outcome isn't known. The site fell derelict after Dissolution in 1537. The smaller church just east remained in use for a while as a parish church. Its medieval graves include that of Sir Lucas Dillon (1530-1592) and his first wife, with their effigies separated by a sword of state - they've become known as "the jealous man and woman." The sword more likely symbolises his roles as Attorney General and Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer, in which his unimpeachable reputation was pretty thoroughly peached by corruption and politically-driven verdicts. The area is easily reached by a walk along the north riverbank from the castle. Free.
- 4 St John's Priory (Crutched Friary), Old Lackanash Road, Trim. 24 hours. This ruin is just across the river from Newtown Abbey. It was founded in 1202 for the "Crutched Friars" who set up several hospices for the sick and frail in Ireland. Also known as the crouched or cross-bearing brethren or Fratres Cruciferi, their hallmark was their walking-staff surmounted by a cross. In a neat 16th century set-up, Edmund Dillon was the prior while his brother Thomas was prior of Newtown Abbey, and brother Robert bagged the land at the Dissolution. There are remains of the church and its fortifications. Free.
- St Peter's Bridge between the two abbeys is almost as ancient as the old bridge in town centre. It's still a public road, controlled by traffic lights as it's not wide enough for cars to pass. On the south bank, Echo Gate is not a medieval portal, but a place where you can holler across the river and get an echo from Newtown Abbey walls, should other amusements fail.
- 5 Dangan Castle, built in the 1700s, became the grand childhood home of the Duke of Wellington. In the early 19th century it was leased by the nationalist Roger O'Connor, who planned to entertain Napoleon there once Wellington and Britain were defeated. His second mistake was to have the castle burn down in circumstances that suggested insurance fraud, and his third was to be implicated in a stagecoach robbery and murder of 1812. He was acquitted but left in a huff for Paris (where he wrote an altogether bogus history of Ireland), and the damaged castle was beyond repair. The structure is unsafe to enter.
- Laracor (Láithreach Cora) northwest of Dangan is where Jonathan Swift lived as church minister, before his appointment as Dean of St Patrick's in Dublin. The church has disappeared.
- 6 Bective Abbey was Cistercian, founded in 1170 as a daughter of Mellifont Abbey 10 km northwest of Drogheda. Most of the remains are from the 15th century. In the 17th century parts were converted into a mansion. The site is free to wander, 24 hours.
- 7 Hill of Tara, Dunsany C14 P44W (Exit 7 off M3). 24 hours. The Hill of Tara (Cnoc na Teamhrach or Temair na Rí, "Hill of the Kings") is the focus of an extensive ritual complex dating back to 3200 BC. It became pre-eminent in the Iron Age and early Christian period when the High Kings of Ireland were crowned here, with five ancient roads fanning out to their subsidiary kingdoms - in their dreams! In reality pre-Norman Ireland had 7 to 13 territories, each ruled by a "high king" who lorded it over petty kings but didn't recognise any higher sovereign and would fight any man that said different. Whether it was 7, 13 or some other prime number was what they mostly fought about. Tara was the seat of the Kingdom of Meath, which merged with that of Leinster in the 12th century when the Normans taught them what subservience to a higher king looked like. Its palaces, temples and halls are long gone and all that's left is earthworks, wear stout shoes. You start at the Visitor Centre in a former C of I church. Adjacent is the Rath of Synods, a triple-ringed enclosure of 200-400 AD. This was damaged in the 1890s by the British Israelites, a kooky sect who were looking for the Ark of the Covenant, but who instead found something so holy and numinous that ordinary sinful folk couldn't actually see it. They dug on with re-doubled zeal but were run out of the county, to form an antisemitic Diaspora. South is the Royal Enclosure, a 315 m diameter Iron Age hill fort; the "Mound of the Hostages" as you enter was not a prison but a Neolithic passage grave. In the enclosure centre are two adjacent rings forming a figure-of-8: Cormac's House (a burial mound) and An Forradh or the Royal Seat. The Stone of Destiny, site of inaugurations, originally stood on An Forradh but has been moved atop Cormac's House. South again and less distinct is the Enclosure of King Laoghaire, a ring fort. North of the Visitor Centre is the rectangular earthwork called the Banqueting Hall but which more likely was a ceremonial avenue. West of there are three smaller burial mounds known as Gráinne's Fort. The site is free to access at all hours, you pay for the visitor centre. Adult €5, conc €4, child €3.
- Aura Leisure Centre is off Newhaggard Rd. It has a pool, gym and fitness classes.
- For theatre or cinema you'll need to go to Navan.
- Golf: the closest course is at Knightsbrook Hotel, see Sleep. South Meath GC and County Meath GC are both southwest on R160. Killeen Castle in Dunsany is a plush resort with a championship course designed by Jack Nicklaus, see Sleep.
- Learn to fly at Trim Flying Club. The airfield is 4 km along R161 towards Navan.
- Trim Poetry Festival is in March. The next is probably Sat 12 March 2022, TBA.
- Haymaking Festival[dead link] is held on Porchfields in mid-June. The next is probably Sunday 19 June 2022 but TBA.
- Trim Vintage & Veteran Car Show[dead link] is in late July on Porchfields. The 2021 event is cancelled and dates for 2022 are TBA.
- Salmon of Knowledge Festival[dead link] in late August is a mixed bag of music, culture, wellness, a round-Ireland race, and other goings-on known only to the salmon. Dates and venues for 2021 are TBA.
- Royal Meath Show is held on Porchfields in the first week of September. The next is probably Sunday 5 Sept 2021, tbc.
- The Jonathan Swift Festival is nowadays held in Dublin in November.
- Aldi by the Emmett St bridge is open M-F 09:00-22:00, Sa Su 09:00-21:00.
- . . . a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food . . . - Jonathan Swift's "Modest Proposal" was for the poor to sell their excess children for the rich to eat.
- Franzini's, 5 Frenchs Lane, Trim C15 NH34, ☏ . Tu-Sa 17:00-21:30, Su 13:00-21:00. Modern European cooking.
- Stockhouse Restaurant, 1 Finnegan's Way, Trim C15 P638, ☏ . Tu-Th 17:00-21:00, F Sa 16:30-22:00, Su 13:00-20:30. Meaty fare with large portions.
- Khan Spices at 9 Emmett St is open M-Sa 17:00-23:00, Su 14:00-22:00.
- Sally Rogers, Bridge St, Trim, ☏ . M-F 18:00-23:30, Sa 12:00-00:00, Su 12:00-23:00. Standard town pub and sports bar, but nice views of the river.
- James Griffin Pub (Lenihan's), 21 High St, Trim C15 FP98, ☏ . Traditional "spirit store" pub draws a large, younger crowd at weekends. Trad music midweek.
- The High Horse at 7 Market St is open daily to 23:30.
- Marcy Regan's, Lacknalash Rd, Trim (east at Blackfriary bridge). Lively pub with trad music at weekends.
- Brú Brewery, founded in 2013, is on the business park north side of town. No tours.
- The hostel has closed down, and there isn't a campsite.
- Trim Castle Hotel, Castle St, Trim C15 FCY8, ☏ . Comfy mid-range hotel with 68 rooms next to the castle, serves good food. B&B double €110.
- 1 Old Rectory, St Loman's St, Trim C15 EY62, ☏ . Plush upscale B&B in a Georgian townhouse, dog-friendly. B&B double €90.
- 2 Castle Arch Hotel, Summerhill Rd, Trim C15 WD92, ☏ . Mid-range, modern place gets mostly good reviews, but some lapses, and noise from the nightclub. B&B double €110.
- 3 Brogan's Hotel, High St, Trim C15 K2CV, ☏ . Bar with accommodation near town centre.
- 4 Knightsbrook Hotel, Dublin Rd, Trim C15 WYF4, ☏ . Plush hotel with spa and golf course, great dining, some rooms tired, often caters for weddings. B&B double €150.
- 5 Tigh Catháin B&B, Longwood Rd, Trim C15 A278, ☏ . Friendly B&B open year round. B&B double €80.
- Highfield House on Maudlins Rd in 2021 only offers self-catering.
- Station House Hotel 7 km east at Kilmessan has a good restaurant.
- 6 Killeen Castle, Dunsany C15 FH39, ☏ . Luxurious hotel with a championship golf course. There's been a castle hereabouts since 1180 but the present mansion is a cod-castle opened in 2010. B&B double €180.
As of April 2021, Trim has 5G from Eir and Three, and if you're lucky from Vodafone.
- Drogheda is close to the Boyne battlefield and Brú Na Bóinne archaeological site.
- Kells has remains of the monastery that for centuries housed the Book of Kells.
- Maynooth has an elegant town centre and the stately Castletown House with two remarkable follies.