Recently on Facebook some fellow Irish Parenting Bloggers and I got into a chat about places to visit around Drogheda and Dundalk. I’m not familiar with Dundalk at all but having been to school in Drogheda and being based in the area whenever we are home in Ireland on holiday, I have a few favourite places to visit. One of those is Oldbridge and the Battle of the Boyne Museum there. While I have often written about our love of beaches and of my favourite local cafe, I haven’t really written much about Oldbridge except for giving it a mention in this post a couple of summers back.
For years now Oldbridge has been one of our regular spots to visit with the children and there are several reasons for that. Before I go into them, here’s the basic information on the place. Entrance to the grounds and gardens is free, however there is a small entrance fee for the museum. Picnics are allowed and there is also a cafe on the grounds. Parking is free and just a short walk from the house and grounds. For details on opening hours and getting there by public transport, check out the Battle of the Boyne website.
So why do we enjoy it so much?
OK, so this isn’t the main reason but it does make it a lot easier to go somewhere for a day out when you are not sure of the weather. Knowing that you don’t have to part with a penny for parking, entrance fees, etc. means you can go with the kids and stay for an hour without feeling you should be making more of the place.
In front of the house there is a huge expanse of grass with some picnic tables. There’s masses of room for children to run about, kick a ball, play catch and generally wear themselves out while you either join in or sit back and relax on your rug or at your picnic table.
For those who want a bit more exercise, there are walkways through the grounds and down to the Boyne canal. The walks are colour coded and a guideline is given on how long they should take, so you have an idea of whether or not they are suitable for your family. In my experience the walks are not all buggy friendly as the terrain is uneven on some.
We’re very much into the Battle of the Boyne around these parts. If you don’t know your King Billy from your King James and you want to know why a man and his son in law battled against each other along with 60,000 men from England, Scotland, France, Denmark and The Netherlands in one small corner of Ireland, then get yourself into the museum and find out.
The museum is small, so don’t rush it. Take your time as there is plenty to take in. Our boys are fascinated by the battle planning, cleverly shown in scenes with life-sized models of the Kings and their advisers the night before battle. The progress of the battle itself is shown in a laser display. At the end of the tour there is a short film showing a re-enactment of the battle. It may be a bit brutal for some children, but you can leave at any time.
To be honest, the cafe can be a bit hit and miss, but for coffee and a scone or an ice-cream for the kids it is perfectly alright. The cafe itself is conservatory-style and looks out onto the walled gardens. Seating is available indoor and outdoors. On a sunny day, it is a beautiful spot to sit.
There’s the Gardens
My personal favourite – the gardens. The walled Victorian garden is laid out geometrically with wide gravel paths between the flower beds. The children are happy to run about here too and have never ventured into the flower beds, thankfully. The planting and the colour is stunning and the whole place has a tranquil air to it, even with my three running around.
At the end of the formal gardens is the Octagonal Garden and it is pure fun with climbable trees, hiding places and a funnel-like grassy dip to run down into and back up out of. Then there’s the greenhouses – oh the greenhouses! Unfortunately you’re not allowed in but they are simply beautiful and such an inspiration.
Overall, it is the kind of place where you can spend anything from half an hour to half a day. There’s no playground and there’s no tour of the house but I don’t find it needs that. It is the kind of place you can make your own fun at. Bring a ball and a blanket, go for a ramble, come back for a coffee and a bit of history.