Loughcrew Cairns is one of our favourite off the Beaten Path visits in the east of Ireland. As Dublin and the surrounding area is the country's most populous area, this is a more difficult task than in the wilds of Donegal or in the far west of County Cork. So, this is a thing to love and cherish.
At the western end of the historical Boyne Valley drive, three burial complexes sit atop three small hills at Loughcrew. These unprepossessing mounds of stone with entrance stones date all the way back to 3000 BC, making them older than the Pyramids by a long way. With no written evidence to go on and mystical tie-ins with the equinoxes, places like Loughcrew remain shrouded in mystery.
Loughcrew Cairns is a classic ancient ruins on a hilltop attraction that Ireland does so well. However Loughcrew is set apart from the some of it's competitors - Hill of Tara and Newgrange for example - as it has some stupendous views over beautifully green Irish scenery. It also requires some walking up a hill, no minibuses or adjacent car parks here, and there's three hills that you can walk between.
Here we essentially have the antithesis of Newgrange and Knowth (which we also love but in different ways). No opening times or entrance fees restrict your visit as sunrise, sunset or midday are all good times to visit. In winter the clouds can roll in quickly and cover the hills in an atmospheric shroud and in the two-day summer when the skies are clear the panoramic landscapes stretch out for miles. So, it really is an attraction for all seasons. Except for the wet ones. So, that's no seasons then... Just check in the weather forecast before you leave.
Nicely set apart from the main hillocks, 200 metres down the tiny road is a small visitor centre, cafe, toilets and campsite.