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Review of Slane Farm Hostel, County Meath, Ireland

Posted by at 05:05 on Wednesday 13 July 2011

Catherine Mack stays at this bustling farm hostel, a lovingly restored historic coach house and stables, with colourful cottages and friendly hosts.

>> For contact details and to check availability, see our full listing of: Slane Farm Hostel

Stay in one of the welcoming and colourful cottages. Photo: Didier RivaStay in one of the welcoming and colourful cottages. Photo: Didier Riva

The accommodation
Slane, Baile Shláine in Irish, means ‘homestead of fullness’ and this farm certainly does fill every corner of its disused farm outhouses and stables with hostellers, couples and families. There is a variety of accommodation, including mixed gender (unless otherwise requested) dormitories, double rooms, family rooms, all of which use a communal kitchen, as well as self-contained courtyard apartments. All are part of the restored stable area, cleverly designed around the former farm yard, which is now a picture of colour, with each stable door painted a bright primary colour, and flowers spouting from milk churns at every turn.

The dorms are simple fare, with bunks and bedding, and are all ensuite. The family rooms are on the ground floor, underneath the dormitories, so they have privacy away from the groups. The most private of the accommodation are the self contained cottages, with large kitchen/sitting room area, a television and sofas. Comfortable and functional at the same time, with and candlewick bedspreads and family ornaments adorning shelves.The simple but comfortable double bedroom. Photo: Didier RivaThe simple but comfortable double bedroom. Photo: Didier Riva

This is a friendly farm and a welcoming place to stay, with much appreciated home made buns waiting for us on arrival. There is also a small campsite at the rear of the farm, which extends in size in peak times, such as the famous Slane Castle Festival. It has standard shower facilities and campers will be happy to have access to the hostel’s kitchen and laundry facilities, when the Irish rain kicks in.

The location
Slane village is at the heart of Ireland’s historical County Meath and the Boyne Valley, just an hour from Dublin. With cultural heritage marvels such as Newgrange, a world famous 5000 year old tomb passage, where people flock for the Solstices, especially in winter when it floods with light. This is now part of the heritage complex, Brú na Bóinne, which boasts two other tombs as well, and has been awarded Unesco World Heritage Site status.

The food
Best to shop before you come as there are not a lot of food shopping options in Slane, unfortunately. One option is to stop at John Mcdonnell's Shalvenstown Organic Farm, just 2kms from Slane Farm Cottages in Rathkeny. The local bistro The Old Post Office is meant to be excellent, but it was closed for refurbishment during my visit. And for some of the best patisserie in the region, go for your flat white with gateau at George’s Patisserie. It is also worth borrowing one of the farm bikes to cycle up to the nearby, and very grand, Tankardstown House, for a cheeky Chablis in the courtyard, or treat yourself to their bistro menu of locally sourced gourmet gorgeousness. There is also a farmers’ market here on the first Sunday of every month from 10-4pm. There is also a Saturday market in the village itself, but this is a little sporadic. Check their Facebook page for updates. Nearby Kells has a farmers’ market every Saturday morning, however, from 10.00am - 2.00pm

Joanne, the owner, in front of this historic coach house. Photo: Didier RivaJoanne, the owner, in front of this historic coach house. Photo: Didier Riva

Walking and talking are two of the best things to do here. I highly recommend local guides Beyond the Blarney for both, run by Tracey and Sue who know their history, are passionate about it, and are a dynamic, new font of cultural knowledge in this highly unexplored part of Ireland. If you are travelling with young children, you will enjoy the Newgrange Animal Farm and Coffee Shop, where you can cuddle lambs, pigs, and rabbits. Or another family favourite is Townley Hall Forest Trails, which follow a short stretch of the River Boyne.

What makes it green accommodation
As well as being a fine example of rural diversification (the dairy farm is still managed by the owners’ children), Slane Farm is also developing an impressive kitchen garden so that they have produce available for visitors. They have plenty of green activities listed on their website, as well as details on local markets. The farm can arrange bike hire for you if you want a day in the saddle.

How to get there by public transport
Guests can take the bus to the village of Slane from Drogheda (no 188) or the Derry - Dublin Bus which leaves guests in the village of Slane. Slane Farm will collect you at the bus in the village, which is 2kms away.

The open plan kitchin and living area, ideal for self-catering. Photo: Didier RivaThe open plan kitchin and living area, ideal for self-catering. Photo: Didier Riva

Top tip
Take the early morning walk up the hill behind the farm, following the yellow arrows, past the curious cows, a field of crops, and then through very old woodland, to reveal the misty ruins of an ancient monastery at the top of the Hill of Slane. It is a magical spot, although sadly the view is marred slightly by a modern housing estate slotted into the surrounding hills. It is said that St. Patrick lit a fire here to celebrate Easter in 433 AD, and a fire is still lit here every year for this religious festival.

You can continue down the hill into Slane and join up with the tranquil canal walk in the village, which you can access through the iron gates on either side of the village’s fine 14th Century bridge taking you past Slane Castle. See Slane Tourism for more details.

This is a bustling farm hostel, very popular with visitors from all over the world coming to see Newgrange, in particular. There is a lovely laid back atmosphere here, with unpretentious and a good, old-fashioned ‘the farm door is always open’ sort of a welcome. The brightly coloured stable doors, and milk churns brimming with flowers will bring a smile to your face even on the wettest of days.

>> For contact details and to check availability, see our full listing of: Slane Farm Hostel

>> See all our Green places to stay in Ireland

>> For information on how to get to Ireland see our How to travel to and from Ireland without flying blog post


Blogs posts categorised as 'Reviews' have been written with the support of one or more of the following: accommodation owner, activity provider, operator, equipment supplier, tourist board, protected landscape authority or other destination-focussed authority. The reviewer retains full editorial control of the work, which has been written in the reviewer's own words based on their experience of the accommodation, activity, equipment or destination.

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