Slane Castle is one of the more popular places to visit in Meath for good reason!
Part of the Boyne Valley Drive and boasting family, national, and musical history going back to the early 1700s, Slane Castle is a must-visit destination for history and music lovers alike.
But, that’s not all the castle has to offer; with grand gardens, stunning architecture and a whiskey distillery, there’s something for everyone to see and do at the remarkable Slane Castle.
Below, you’ll find info on everything from the Slane Castle concerts and the walking trails to the restaurant, yearly events and more.
Some quick need-to-know about Slane Castle
Although a visit to Slane Castle is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
2. Home to lots to do
You could easily spend a day exploring Slane Castle and its grounds, with the stately home within the castle and the guided tours, to the grand gardens and walking trail that’s accessible for all visitors (more on this below).
3. Castle tours
Get to know the castle from the inside out and learn about the Conyngham family’s history, together with how the family came to live at Slane Castle. Tours run only on weekends and should be pre-booked via the website. More info below.
4. Distillery tours
Open on Fridays through to Sundays, the Slane Distillery is a wonderful way to discover Irish whiskey and the art of distilling. Tours vary in duration, with the 1.5hr tour being extremely popular. Booking ahead is strongly advised. More on this below.
5. Slane Castle concerts
Slane Castle has a long history of entertaining guests and, for the past 40 years, has been a renowned open-air music venue. Everyone from U2, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and even Metallica and Guns ‘N Roses has played within its grounds.
A speedy history of Slane Castle
Since Slane Castle came to be in the possession of the Conyngham family in the early 18th century, the castle has been a rich cultural home.
Before there was a castle, and before there were Lords of Slane, there was a well on the castle grounds. Dian Cecht, the ancient Irish mythical god of healing, blessed this well and its waters so that the supernatural race, the Tuatha Dé Danann, could be healed by it.
However, as Christianity became prominent in Ireland, the holy well was incorporated into the new faith, and renamed ‘Our Lady’s Well’, after the Mary. Also on the grounds are the ruins of St. Erc’s Hermitage, which date to the 15th and 16th centuries.
The original Slane Castle was built in the 12th century on the Hill of Slane, and was home to the Flemings, Lords of Slane, through to the late 17th century.
However, in the early 17th century the new castle was built as the family prospered. But, as the Flemings were Catholics and they supported King James II/VII, when their Jacobite cause was lost, they too lost their seat and castle.
Conynghams and the Future
Since 1701, the Conyngham family have been known as the Barons of Slane, and the castle has been their seat of power. As with many sizable estates during the period, Slane Castle was able to diversify its agricultural and industrial interests.
During the 18th century the ground and gardens were laid out by Capability Brown, and in 2009 they began bottling and selling ‘Slane Castle Whiskey’.
Things to do at Slane Castle
One of the reasons that a visit to Slane Castle is up there as one of the best things to do in Meath is due to the sheer volume of things there are to see and do.
Below, you’ll find info on food and walks to tours, treats and much, much more. Dive on in!
1. Grab something tasty from the Silver Fox
More than just another cafe, the ‘Silver Fox’ is a food truck with a seating area that offers views of the castle. Located nearer the castle car park during the summer, it relocates to The Courtyard for the winter season.
Try their coffees to warm up, or perhaps a hot sausage roll while you prepare to explore the castle. The Silver Fox is open Saturdays and Sundays, from 10am – 6pm.
2. The tackle the Slane Castle walking trail
There’s no better way to get to know the castle grounds than by completing the Slane Castle Walking Trail (one of our favourite walks in Meath). Take a meandering stroll through mature woodlands, listen to the bird song, and count how many wild animals you can spot.
The trail is 1.6kms long and is made of gravel with two small inclines/hills. It is suitable for buggies and wheelchair access, and there is some seating available as you progress through the walk, however, this is limited.
3. Spend a rainy day on the Slane Castle tour
Don’t worry if it’s wet when you visit, while you wait out the showers you can always tour what is arguably one of the finest castles in Ireland.
Tours run every Saturday and Sunday, and you can pre-book your preferred time online before you go.
The tours last approximately 45-minutes and give a detailed history of the Conyngham family, the history of the castle, and how the castle has adapted and changed over the centuries.
Of course, you can also find out more about the numerous Slane Castle concerts, as well as some of the family’s more impressive house guests! Tours cost:
- Adults: €14
- Kids: €8.40
- Students, O.A.Ps, & Groups €12.50
4. Tantalise your tastebuds at the Slane Whiskey Distillery
Open from noon on Fridays through to 6pm on Sunday, the Slane Castle Distillery is one of our favourite whiskey distilleries in Ireland, and it’s a great spot to discover how whiskey is made, or to of course sample a drop or two at The Stalls bar during the summer season.
There are several tours available, and pre-booking your ticket is strongly advised. The variety of tours includes the illustrious VIP Exclusive tour that takes 2hrs, the Evening 1.5hr tour that includes Irish folklore and storytelling, or the Irish coffee Class that’s short and sweet at 30mins, but will leave you feeling warm and ready for your next adventure. Tours cost:
- Irish Coffee Class (30-minutes): €12
- A Flavour of Slane (40-minutes): €12
- Made In Slane (1hr): €25
- An Evening Of Slane Irish Whiskey, Storytelling, and Folklore (1.5hrs): €50
- Slane Rocks VIP Exclusive Tour (2hrs): €75
5. Give glamping a crack
No one would blame you if you wanted to linger a little longer after visiting Slane Castle. So why not do it? Slane Castle’s ‘Rock Farm‘ is home to one of the most unique places to go glamping in Meath!
With the delights of a hot tub, open campfire, and a choice of yurts or shepherd’s huts, your stay at Slane Castle will be truly unforgettable.
Once you’re settled, why not get involved with the ‘Day in the life’ of an organic farmer, or see the rare breeds, market garden, and the eco-buildings the current Earl and Countess of Mount Charles have created.
6. Visit the Púca Festival
Take the 1km walk through the grounds, and be part of the audience of Stephen James Smith’s ‘Our Darkest Night’. The event has several live performances and promises to create a memorable experience for all.
Hand in hand with the festival, the Slane Castle estate will be making food and drinks available to keep guests warm and nourished. Serving up their specially created Púca Punch, and tasty treats from Rock Farm’s organic produce, book your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.
Things to see near Slane Castle
One of the beauties of the Slane Castle tour is that, when you’re finished, you’re a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Meath.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Slane Castle (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. Hill of Slane (4-minute drive)
Discover the original seat of the Flemings of Slane and the castle that lies in ruins on the nearby Hill of Slane. Over the centuries it’s been home to monks, myths, and seen its share of battles. Parking is available nearby, with a short walk from the car park to the ruins.
2. Littlewoods Forest Walk (5-minute drive)
A beautiful, quiet and peaceful walk surrounded by a variety of trees. The short trail takes about 40-minutes to complete and covers a distance of approximately 2kms. Weather dependent, it is advisable to wear suitable footwear and carry a rainproof jacket. Note, there are no amenities on-site.
3. Brú na Bóinne (12-minute drive)
Brú na Bóinne is a huge complex of passage tombs, and Neolithic structures that date back some 5,000 years. Its name translates to ‘palace’ or ‘mansion’ and instantly gives an idea as to the complexity and importance of this site to prehistoric inhabitants. It’s home to Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth.
4. Balrath Woods (15-minute drive)
A fine example of woodland that encompasses mixed broadleaf trees, and conifers. Balrath Woods is home to many original trees, but also to replanting since 1969. Enthusiasts can identify many species, and trails can be enjoyed on foot, or by bicycle. There is nearby parking with easy access to the woods.
FAQs about visiting Slane Castle
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Is Slane Distillery as good as people say?’ to ‘Is the Slane Castle tour worth doing?’.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Is Slane Castle worth visiting?
100% yes! There’s lots to do here, from the food truck and the walking trail to the castle itself and the excellent distillery.
What is there to do at Slane Castle?
You can kick start your visit with a coffee from the truck, then tackle the walking trails before visiting the castle or the distillery.
Katherine is an food and travel writer with family-roots in Ireland. She enjoys hitting the road at every given opportunity, and can often be found with an atlas and notebook to hand planning the next big trip.