Monday, March 10, 2014

Trim Heritage Trail

After our tour of Trim Castle itself, we decided to take a leisurely stroll on the Trim Heritage Trail on the banks of the River Boyne.  The trail was one of the first things we noticed when we hopped off the bus.  We made a note to explore it after catching the earliest possible castle tour.

This area, now just east of Trim village, used to be a huge center of political and religious power for this region.  Trim Castle was of course the center of that center, but rest of the ancient walled city and surrounding fields were home to the largest churches, abbeys, and other institutions in this part of Ireland.

The first sight on the trail is just across the river from the castle, and is easily seen (and photographed) from the top ramparts of the castle keep.  This solitary tower is known as the Yellow Steeple and is the last remaining piece of an abbey that stood on this spot in the 14th century.  In its time, the belfry tower of this church was one of the tallest buildings in Ireland.

The Yellow Steeple in Trim, Ireland
The Yellow Steeple

Just past the busy area around the castle, the trail winds through some riverside pasture land.  Ireland is famous for her sheep, so it should come as no surprise that we were face to face with some of the woolly buggers grazing near the trail.

A lamb in Trim, Ireland

The bank around the River Boyne is surprisingly low and flat.  I imagine the river breaks its banks fairly easily, spreading to the large floodplain on both sides.  Several low wetland like swamps spread out from the lowest spots of land.  Evidence of old roads and bridges still stand among the pastures.

Stone Bridge in Trim, Ireland
Stone Bridge

About a half mile from the castle is the ruin of Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral.  This was (again in its time) the largest Gothic church in Ireland.  Dating back to the 13th century, today it stands as a stone ruin, but it isn't completely abandoned.

Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral Ruins in Trim, Ireland
Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral Ruins

A peaceful and well-kept cemetery is still in use in and around the ruins today.  Markers dating back mere months to hundreds of years are arranged in the gardens and trees of the Cathedral.

Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral and Cemetery in Trim, Ireland
Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral and Cemetery

Farther down the trail (farther than most of the other visitors care to walk...) is the Hospital of St. John the Baptist.  To get to the hospital, walkers (and daring drivers) must cross the narrow 15th-century bridge stone bridge.  Traffic lights on both sides control the vehicle traffic on this one-lane narrow bridge, and cars and trucks take turns crossing the river one at a time.

Narrow Road Bridge in Trim, Ireland
Narrow Road Bridge

The Hospital of St. John the Baptist also dates to the 13th century, and was just that... a hospital.  Sick and war-wounded were treated here by medically trained monks.  Today, visitors can explore the ruins and see the remains of treatment rooms, storage cupboards, and the main central chapel.

Hospital of St. John the Baptist in Trim, Ireland
Hospital of St. John the Baptist

See how low that bank is on the mighty River Boyne?  I imagine (maybe incorrectly) that the low lands and the ancient ruins must flood regularly.  The stone can handle it, and we noticed that modern buildings (including Trim town) are built away from the water or built on river flood walls like Dublin's quays (pronounced keys).

Cory looks at the River Boyne at the Hospital of St. John the Baptist in Trim, Ireland
Obligatory Cory-Looking-At-The-Water Shot

 After making the pleasant trip down the trail to these quiet and out-of-the-way historical ruins, it was time for something to eat and something hot to drink... followed by something cold to drink.

Stay tuned!

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