Hill of Slane

Hill of Slane

The Hill of Slane to the north of Slane Village is 158 metres (518 ft) above the surroundings.

There are a number of historic sites located around the top of the hill. In the Metrical Dindshenchas, a collection of bardic verse, the ancient Fir Bolg king Sláine mac Dela was said to have been buried here, in the place that had been called Druim Fuar that came to be known in his memory Dumha Sláine.

The hill may have been chosen as the site of Christian abbey due to the presence of an existing pagan shrine, the remains of which may be two standing stones in the burial yard. Muirchu moccu Machtheni, in his highly mythologized seventh century Life of Patrick, says that St. Patrick lit a Paschal fire on this hill top in 433 CE in defiance of the High King Laoire who forbid any other fires while a festival fire was burning on the Hill of Tara.

Historians and archaeologists agree that Muirchu has moved to Slane a fire lit elsewhere; Brú na Bóinne, and Knowth have been suggested. The Hill of Slane can be seen from the Hill of Tara which is about 16 km (10 miles) away. According to Muirchu, Logaire was so impressed by Patrick’s devotion that, despite his defiance (or perhaps because of it), he let him continue his missionary work in Ireland. It is somewhat more certain that Patrick appointed a bishop of Slane, Saint Erc.

The Hill of Slane remained a center of religion and learning for many centuries after St. Patrick. The ruins of a 16th century friary church and college can be seen on the top of the hill. The church and college were built in 1512 by the Fleming family for the Franciscans. The Fleming family coat of arms can be seen on the west wall of the college which was built to house four priest, four lay brothers and four choristers. Thirty years after its foundation, the monastery was dissolved by King Henry VIII. In 1631, the Flemings restored the monastery. It became home to Capuchin monks, who in turn, were driven out in 1651 by Oliver Cromwell.

On the west side of the hill there are the remains of a twelfth century Norman motte and bailey, built by Richard Fleming in the 1170s. This was the seat of the Flemings of Slane, barons of Slane. The Flemings moved to a castle on the left bank of the River Boyne, the current location of Slane Castle. The Flemings were lords of Slane from the twelfth century until seventeenth century, when the Conyngham family replaced them as lords of Slane during the Williamite Confiscations.

Slane & Boyne Valley Tour

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