there are many, many things to see in the Boyne River valley. Tara, Slane, Newgrange, Knowth, Dowth, Trim, Battle of the Boyne … and as with much of the rest of Ireland, the area is drenched in history spanning thousands of years.
the Castle at Trim was one of the few places where I decided to take the OPW tour, partly because it was the only way to get inside the keep, partly because it was departing the moment I arrived, and partly because I was quite interested in learning more about the site. the Castle was built primarily by Hugh de Lacey, who took possession in 1172 from Henry II, who was interested in stifling the expansionist ideas of Strongbow. it’s on a raised bit of land at a fording point right on the River Boyne. consequently, even though it’s some 25 miles from the Irish Sea, it was still rather accessible by water. initially, it had twenty corners, which made it exceedingly defendable (one of the towers disappeared after the Castle was neglected and left to ruin). the construction of the entrances and staircases, our guide mentioned, was such that it gave patent advantage to a (right-handed) defender. any (right-handed) attacker attempting to overtake the keep would be at a disadvantage because their right side would be open to attack while climbing narrow, circular stairs.
officially, the Castle is “John’s Castle,” after the King of England. fearing that de Lacey was getting to powerful, John showed up with some 5,000 armed men as a reminder of where power rightly lay. de Lacey, suitably cowed by the show of force, offered the Castle up to John, who shortly left and never thought about the place again.
also, during the Middle Ages, the Castle was the northernmost boundary of British control in Ireland–the Pale. to venture beyond Trim was to enter into territory defended and held by Irish clans; not a good idea for an Englishman.
in the 16th century, the last of the family holding the Castle died and it fell into disrepair. after changing hands several more times, including some interesting Cromwellian machinations, the Castle was abandoned and left alone until restoration/excavation work began in the 1990s.