PLATO EBR E-Tourism Cluster Tour of Slane
By Felicity McNeice on 4th March 2015
On Thursday 26 February 2015, the team at Oli had the pleasure of taking a bespoke tour of Slane in County Meath, as part of the PLATO EBR e-tourism cluster activity. We have been leading this cluster for the last six months and rotate the workshop venues around the large East Border Region. This time, we decided to run a fam (familiarisation) trip before the usual evening workshop for the businesses and members of the cluster, and what a great afternoon we all had!
The team gathered at the Irish Military War Museum before taking off on their tour around Slane. More about the Irish Military War Museum later.
The tour started with a bracing trek up the Hill of Slane to explore the abbey ruins and take in the views across the surrounding counties. It is widely believed that the Hill of Slane is where St Patrick lit the first paschal fire on the hill in defiance of the pagan High King Lóegaire.
Visit Slane now has its very own Tourist Information Centre so we were lucky to have time to pop in and meet the staff, and hear all the great things that they and the community are doing to attract and welcome visitors. The community spirit in this village really is something to be commended.
Next we visited Slane Farm Hostel. This beautiful farm offers hostel style accommodation, self-catering cottages and camping, all set in a restful countryside setting just down the road from Slane Castle. Joanne, Emma and Gordon showed us around, provided us with incredible muffins that the group practically inhaled, and listened patiently to our endless questions. Every one of us intends to go back to stay.
A visit to the Francis Ledwidge Cottage was next, where Irish poet Francis Ledwidge grew up before serving as a soldier in the British Army fighting in World War I. Such is the hospitality we found everywhere we went, the cottage was meant to be closed but they opened specially for us. The on site guide was a wealth of knowledge, and really brought the story of this historic home to life.
Into Slane Village we then went, with a stop off at the Slane Craft Collective. Another example of how this village encourages working together, the collective is run by the artists themselves and offers a wide selection of arts and crafts. Wallets and purses were a good bit lighter when we left there…
From there, we strolled just a few doors down and piled into Pat’s Art Gallery, a small art gallery owned by Pat Doyle, a PLATO cluster member. Pat set up this art gallery when he retired and he now showcases the work that he creates on his trips and residencies around the globe. Pat enthralled us all with the stories behind some of his paintings – telling about how two minutes after one painting a herd of elephants walked past, or who the inspiration was behind a particular painting. As our cluster is all about making the most of online platforms, we all became very excited about how his stories could help promote his work online and bring it to life. His gallery is a very inspiring place and we all left feeling better for having spent time in the midst of such creativity.
Our final stop was back where we started at the Irish Military War Museum. Just a few miles out of Slane, this private museum was set up by PLATO cluster member William Sullivan. His passion for the subject led to him setting up this initiative in summer 2014. Packed with military artifacts including guns (yes you can hold them), tanks (and yes you can drive one) this gem of a museum offers a fascinating insight into Irish participants’ involvement in both World War One and World War Two, as well as other military conflicts in world history. There are also activities outside where you can work up a sweat. Add to this William’s charisma and mind-blowing knowledge, shared through hugely informative tours, and the experience really is worth building into any local itinerary.
Eventually we had to get back to business and knuckle down to the evening’s digital workshop. The evening’s theme was ‘think local, sell global’ so for the next few hours we advised, learned and shared what makes for a good website, how to use booking engines and a wealth of other topics to help the group expand their markets internationally.
Follow the #PlatoEBR hashtag on Twitter to follow the tweets from the different points from the tour around Slane and discover the top spots such as the Hill of Slane, Slane Farm Hostel, the Francis Ledwidge Cottage, and the Irish Military War Museum.
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