Getty Images/Flickr RF

Counties Meath, Louth, Cavan & Monaghan

The fertile fields of Counties Meath and Louth attracted Ireland's first settlers, making these two counties the birthplace of Irish civilisation. Today they're part of Dublin's commuter belt, but the earliest inhabitants' legacies endure at the mystical tombs at Brú na Bóinne and Loughcrew – which both predate the Egyptian pyramids – and on the Hill of Tara, the seat of Ireland's high kings and gateway to the otherworld.

Following St Patrick's arrival, the faithful built abbeys, high crosses and round towers to protect their treasured manuscripts. Magnificent ruins recall a time when Ireland was known as the Land of Saints and Scholars.

To the northwest, Counties Cavan and Monaghan's undulating hills and fish-filled lakes are wilder and more remote. Walking trails take in the rugged scenery and expansive views of the Cuilcagh Mountains.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Counties Meath, Louth, Cavan & Monaghan.