Take a guided tour around one of the biggest and best-preserved Norman castles in Ireland, which has barely changed since it was first built in the 12th century.
Trim Castle, a well-preserved Anglo-Norman fortress, dominates the small town in which is sits. Take a tour of the castle interior to learn what life was like for the Anglo-Norman family that stationed themselves inside the castle amid the hostile local Gaelic Irish population.
The castle dates back to medieval times and the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland. In 1172, the then King of England, Henry II, granted Hugh de Lacy the Kingdom of Meath. De Lacy, in an effort to establish control over his newfound territory, built a wooden castle which was destroyed. In its place, he erected this more permanent stone fortress, which was at the time the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Europe.
Admire the impressive fortifications and sturdy walls. If it looks familiar to you, it may be because you have already seen it on the big screen in the Mel Gibson-led blockbuster Braveheart.
Much of the castle that is visible today would have been in place here by 1220. Because of the risk of attack, the castle is very heavily fortified. Look for the keep, which has 9-foot (3-meter) thick walls. As so little in the castle has changed, visitors to the site today can get a good sense of the security the de Lacy family may have felt here, despite the opposition to their presence.
To enter the interior of the castle, take a guided tour and climb the tower for fabulous views of the surrounding green landscape. A knowledgeable guide will show you around the complex, painting a picture of what life would have been like in the castle over the centuries. Note that guided tours require participants to ascend narrow, steep stairways and therefore may not be suitable for the mobility-impaired.
Find Trim Castle in the village of Trim, County Meath on the banks of the River Boyne. The castle is under an hour from Dublin city center by car and parking is available on site. A small entrance fee is charged for access to the grounds. Guided tours cost extra.