Sights in Slane
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Simple yet moving, the Ledwidge Museum is located in a quaint cottage that was the birthplace of poet Francis Ledwidge (1891–1917). He died on the battlefield at Ypres, having survived Gallipoli and Serbia. A keen political activist, Ledwidge was thwarted in his efforts to set up a branch of the Gaelic League in the area, but found an outlet in verse.
The museum provides an insight into Ledwidge's life and works, and the cottage itself is an evocative example of how farm labourers lived in the 19th century. It is about 1.5km east of Slane on the Drogheda road (N51). Opening hours can be erratic – call ahead.
Still the private residence of Henry Conyngham, Earl of Mountcharles, Slane Castle is best known in Ireland as the setting for massive outdoor rock concerts, such as Kings of Leon in 2011. U2's 1984 album The Unforgettable Fire was recorded here (though the castle featured on the album cover is in Moydrum in County Westmeath) and the band have returned to play several occasions in the castle grounds.
Built in 1785 in the Gothic-revival style by James Wyatt, the building was later altered by Francis Johnson for George IV's visits to Lady Conyngham. She was allegedly his mistress, and it's said the road between Dublin and Slane was built especially straight and smooth to…
About 1km north of the village is the Hill of Slane, a fairly plain-looking mound that stands out only for its association with a thick slice of Celto-Christian mythology. According to legend, St Patrick lit a paschal (Easter) fire here in 433 to proclaim Christianity throughout the land. Patrick's fire infuriated Laoghaire, the pagan high king of Ireland, who had expressly ordered that no fire be lit within sight of the Hill of Tara. He was restrained by his far-sighted druids, who warned that 'the man who had kindled the flame would surpass kings and princes'. Laoghaire went to meet Patrick, and all but one of the king's attendants – a man called Erc – greeted Patrick…