DUBLIN’S next-door neighbour is a treasure trove of Irish history with Newgrange, Tara, the Boyne Valley and Anglo-Irish great houses brimming with history and beauty.
Tankardstown House, Slane, is less than an hour from Dublin, yet combines the romance of Brideshead Revisited with the air of a Provencal village. It has the standards of a fivestar hotel, yet it feels as if you’ve been invited to a long-lost (and rich) relative’s country pile.
You can stay in the main house or in one of the cottages set around a courtyard. We stayed in a cottage which was tastefully decorated and comprised of a sitting room, two ensuites, kitchen and dining area.
The big house is yours to explore, too. If you want 24-hour room service, look elsewhere. If you want a chilledout family weekend, or a romantic bolthole, look no further.
For drinks, you can use the bar — you just help yourself and write your own tab. Breakfast can be delivered to your cottage, or enjoyed in the main house. But leave some room for dinner as the restaurants are the main focus here.
The Brabazon has a great buzz at weekends. Try the goats’ cheese tart with asparagus starter. The wine prices won’t make your eyes water, starting at €21.
For even more value, the bistro across the way has plenty of good options including a beautiful adjoining bar. If the weather's good, both restaurants have tables outside, overlooking the walled garden.
On some weekends the courtyard area comes to life with a farmers’ market, and there’s a gift shop. Set on 80 acres, the grounds are vast, tranquil and worth exploring. If you've got the kids with you, they are going to love the three dogs. There’s the enormous and sleepy Dexter; labrador Millie who loves to play football; and Coco, a cheeky ball-of-fur bichon frise, who’ll put a smile on any young child’s face.
If you can tear yourself away, Tankardstown House is at the heart of Irish history. Newgrange is a short drive away while the new centre at the Battle of the Boyne site puts on great re-enactments. Children will love to see the muskets fired and learn about the biggest battle ever held in either Ireland or Britain.
Life’s a lot more peaceful around these parts nowadays. and if you want to escape the bustle of city, just pop down to the neighbours up the road.
Three nights’ room only in a luxury twobedroom self-catering courtyard suite costs just €420. This package is also available for five nights for €850. Tankardstown House, Slane, Co Meath. Call 041 982 4621 www.tankardstown.ie