Discover Ireland's Ancient East

Updated On: February 05, 2024 | Published On: June 10, 2021

There are few things we enjoy more than taking a road trip with our pup. For the first post-lockdown trip, we wanted to find somewhere that could be a million miles away from the city (without actually having to drive quite that far). We have been wanting to visit County Meath and its ancient landmarks since we arrived in Ireland last year, so we booked ourselves a stay at the dog-friendly Bellinter House. This impressive 18th-century manor house has been lovingly converted into a boutique 4-star hotel with 35 luxury rooms and is set on 12 acres of formal gardens and surrounded by countless acres of woodland beyond that.
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Arriving at Bellinter House, you immediately feel like you are in a very special place. The driveway takes you through the private gardens lined with impressive trees and manicured lawns. We arrived in the mid-afternoon and were greeted by their friendly staff, all eager to welcome guests back to the hotel, and Poppy was just as happy to see new people.. she would have happily left with the manager, Denise! We checked in and were shown to our dog-friendly room. Dogs aren't permitted to stay in the main house, however, they have 12 dog-friendly courtyard suites, all with their own entrance for easy access to the gardens for a quick bathroom break. These pet-friendly stables have been converted into luxury accommodation so you certainly won't feel like you're in the dog house!

Our first impression of Bellinter House was that this is one of the best of a growing number of dog-friendly hotels in Ireland. Dogs are welcome to run off-leash in the gardens, and there are no size, breed, or number restrictions. The tranquil setting of the estate and scenic walks will surely make this one of your dog’s favorite spots. We were really impressed that the hotel had installed a Mutt Mitt bag dispenser and dog-waste bin just outside the dog-friendly courtyard making it really easy to keep the grounds nice for everyone.
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Once we had checked in, we headed back out of the private estate to the nearby Hill of Tara for a quick walk and to see the legendary site of The High King of Ireland, Conn. The park is only an 8-minute drive from Bellinter House so it was perfect for a pre-dinner activity. Poppy tried stepping on the Stone of Destiny but I think it was her letting out a little cry rather than the rock.

We returned to our room and gave Poppy's feet a quick rinse off in the ensuite bath and got ready for dinner. We were lucky with the weather and got to enjoy dinner in the outdoor dining areas. There is a large patio with beautiful views across the Irish countryside and the Boyne River Valley below, or for when the weather is not so clement, the hotel has just made a covered area where you can enjoy some classic evening dining with your pup, but we would really recommend sitting outside if the weather permits. What was really great for us, was that the kitchen had an a la carte menu for vegetarians and vegans... As if finding a dog-friendly restaurant isn't hard enough, finding a dog-friendly vegan-friendly restaurant is damn near impossible!
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The next day, after a very restful sleep, a hearty breakfast, and good use of the coffee facilities, we set out on our driving tour of Co Meath.

Although we didn't use the spa because we had such a full day planned exploring Co. Meath, it's worth mentioning that Bellinter House has a fantastic Bathhouse Spa with a sauna, steam room, and outdoor hot tub as well as a wide selection of massages, therapies, and cosmetic treatments.

We used Discover Boyne Valley to plan our itinerary, they have loads of suggested itineraries and interactive maps for walking and driving tours. The first stop on our dog-friendly tour was Bective Abbey. Founded in 1147 for the Cistercian Order this impressive site has had many different uses, most recently as a Hollywood film set for Captain Lightfoot, Braveheart, and The Last Duel. This spot is a lovely place to sit in the grass for a while however there are no waste bins so make sure you bring bags to pick up after your pooch.
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Next on the tour was the historic town of Trim with its impressive castle visible from every direction. Although Trim Castle itself is not dog-friendly, the Trim Porch Field Historic and Nature Trails are an ideal place to unwind and stretch your legs. Your pup is very welcome on the trails but you must keep them on the leash and, as always, clean up after them. Whilst in Trim, we picked up a delicious lunch from The Olive Tree tea room which has dog-friendly outdoor seating.
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After leaving Trim behind us, we headed Northwest to the Loughcrew Cairns on the hills of Oldcastle. These hills are the highest in Co. Meath and are the site of some of the most impressive passage tombs in Ireland. Built around 3200BC these impressive structures still stand tall over the beautiful Irish Countryside and show how important the Sun and the Seasons were to ancient Irish farmers, in life, and in death. The Loughcrew Cairns are easily accessible, but, on the top of a fairly steep hill so bring proper footwear if you plan on going up to see them. The posted trail is through grazing fields so you must keep your pup on the leash so as not to upset the sheep.
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The next stop on our route was Kells to see the whimsical lighthouse in the middle of the country. The Spire of Lloyd is 30m tall and 40km from the coast. This folly was built in 1791 by Thomas Taylour in order to provide work for the local people during a time of famine. The Spire is surrounded by a well-kept park where you and your pup can stretch your legs or sit down for a picnic.
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Unfortunately, we passed by Slane Castle too late in the day to fit in a tour of the Slane Whiskey Distillery so it remains on the Dog-Friendly bucket list of things to do.

The last destination on our dog-friendly tour was the Old Melifont Abbey which was the first Cistercian monastery in Ireland, founded in 1142 by St Malachy of Armagh. These impressive ruins still show the influence of European architecture and formal styling with examples of the intricate medieval stonework across the whole site surviving until today. The Abbey has a paved walkway with information boards guiding you through the ruins. There is plenty of free parking, a visitors center, bathrooms, and best of all, dogs are welcome!
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Bellinter House is perfectly situated to enjoy exploring Ireland's Ancient East and being just 30 minutes from Dublin Airport and the City Center, it is also a great place to escape the city and enjoy the tranquil grounds of the estate and afternoon tea on the terrace with your furry friend or dinner and cocktails on the long summer's nights.

If using Google Maps to navigate to Bellinter House, even with the correct address, if you come from the North, maps will direct you to a 'no through road' which is actually the entrance to the Bellinter Boarding Kennels and Cattery. Be sure to head for the Hotel's entrance to the Southwest of the House.
The dog-friendly accommodation has plenty of free parking right outside the rooms and the hotel has free wifi throughout.
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When looking for a dog-friendly vacation in Ireland, the Ancient East Coast, and the Boyne Valley in County Meath has a whole host of dog-friendly activities and places to go. We had such a nice experience and a great stay at Bellinter House. If you are looking for pet-friendly accommodation in County Meath, be sure to check them out, head over to their Paws Friendly Business Page to find out all you need to know about their pet policy.

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