The Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre is in Drogheda in Southern Ireland. It is quite easy to find, there are lots of signposts from the main Dublin to Belfast motorway. It is open every day between 9:30 am and 5:30 pm. Last entrance to the visitor centre is one hour before they close. The car park and main gate are locked one hour after the closing time. Entrance to the visitor centre is very reasonable - just 4 Euros for adults, 2 Euros for children and 3 Euros for senior citizens. Parking is free and if you just want to wander around the very extensive grounds, then there is nothing to pay for that either.
The Battle of the Boyne is probably the most iconic battle in Irish history. King William III crossed the Boyne, defeated King James who then fled Ireland and changed the course of history. Both kings commanded their own armies. The Battle of the Boyne was fought at this site on 11 July 1690. At this battle was the largest amount of troops deployed on an Irish battlefield - 36,000 for William and 25,000 for James. They were fighting for the British throne, French dominance in Europe and religious power in Ireland. James was Catholic, William (his son-in-law) was Protestant, and as we all know the after effects of this battle lived on and still do to this day.
This visitor centre was only opened in 2008. The setting is absolutely gorgeous - the beautiful Oldbridge Estate, which sits right on the site of the battle. There is a mansion, landscaped grounds, extensive walks and so much to see. You need to spend the whole day here. The whole place is so interesting, but also ground breaking in the peace process. It was redeveloped in co-operation with the Irish government and the Orange Order, so was a key step forward in the peace process. It really is a must see.
We found lots of parking and even had a picnic in the car park. There is a small exhibition inside the mansion, unfortunately you are not allowed to take pictures inside. They have life size wax models of William and James in their tents on the eve of the battle. It is well done and shows battle plans from each of their view points. You can listen in to conversations in the different tents. They also have a few relics and some murals.
The interior of the old mansion is just beautiful - old, wooden floors, high ceilings and original features everywhere. It has a real air of grandeur and is a shame you only pass through a couple of rooms on the ground floor and don't get to see more of it.
We all loved the large model of the Boyne Valley as it was in 1690. There are display screens showing the battle scenes and they use lasers to simulate troop movements at the battle went on. It was a great way to show a historic battle and really brought it to life.
Outside in the courtyard was an interesting artillery exhibition - lots to look at and you can take pictures from this point on. It is worth noting though, that everything in this area is a replica and nothing is original. Make sure to peek into the stables here too and see the horses.
There is a film in a little cinema area which recreates the battle and is also very good.
After all this, we were ready for refreshments and went to the tearoom. I highly recommend a trip here - delicious food and such a choice. We sat outside in a lovely courtyard overlooking the walled garden.
There are also a series of self guided walks you can take away from the mansion, through the battle field sites and into the surrounding countryside. We decided to take the longest one - about 3 miles but mostly flat. It took us away from the house to the edge of the estate. We saw a replica of Oldbridge Village where the battle was fought and some markers depicting battle sites. We carried on through fields and along a canal tow-path. The walk was nice, all on grass and you definitely need comfortable shoes.
After the walk, we saw some displays going on in an arena in front of the mansion. They had weaponry demonstrations with soldiers in period costume on horseback. This is well worth seeing too.
We had a great day out here - history, nature and beautiful scenery, there is something for everyone.