It seems like some of the most beautiful historical sites in Ireland are located along the River Boyne, with Newgrange being one of the most famous of course. And while Newgrange generally tends to steal the limelight, Old Bridge House is yet another spectacular site to see along the River Boyne, County Meath.
The house was built in the 18th century, but what comes as a surprise to many is that the core attraction of Old Bridge House is not the beautiful, old house itself, it’s the actual historical significance of the site that it’s built on.
Old Bridge House is built on the very battle site of the infamous Battle of the Boyne. For those of you who don’t know, the Battle of the Boyne took place in 1690 between Catholic James II of England and VII of Scotland and the Protestant William III of England and II of Scotland. Oddly, William was actually married to his cousin Mary, who was James’ daughter – just one of the many twists in the tale!
The battle ensued as James tried to take back the British crown from William who had overthrown him as king of the British Isles in 1688. Unfortunately for James, his valiant attempt was unsuccessful as Williams’s army (who was aptly nicknamed the “Williamites”), easily defeated James’s army of lesser skilled and equipped army recruits. The Williamite army was about 36,000 strong and consisted of professional soldiers, largely from Denmark and Norway, whereas James’s army had only 23,500 troops, with most of the cavalry consisting of Irish Catholic peasants who had little or no battle training. The encounter is one of the best-known battles to take place in Ireland and is often commemorated among the British Isles.
The visitor centre at Old Bridge House offers a wonderful audio-visual show depicting the renowned Battle of the Boyne. Here, you can also view original and replica 17th century weaponry displays that will really help you to envision exactly what took place across those faithful few days back in 1690. The displays themselves speak a thousand words, aptly telling the story of the various stages of the battle. With an enthralling collection of cannons and weaponry and a laser battlefield model, adults and kids of all ages will find themselves in complete awe of all that’s on display.
If you fancy a stroll on the day of your visit, there are various walkways that will take you right through the battle site for some exploration. And, to take you back in time and into the mind-set of that era, you mustn’t miss the entertainment filled full battle enactment show. Even when the show is not on, you’ll still see some enthusiastic tour guides and actors walking around the site dressed in battle costumes and acting in character. Trust us – it’s not to be missed!
Why visit Old Bridge House? Nowhere else in Ireland will you get to experience such a creative and factual display and exhibition of a key moment in Irish history. In addition, there is something for people of all ages and all interests to enjoy at Old Bridge House. Be it the beauty of the old house itself, the stunning walled gardens, the awesome weaponry, the colourful characters or the walks through the battlefield, a visit to Old Bridge House will not disappoint on any level.