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File:Tara brooch 1896.png
Drawing of the head of the Tara Brooch, 1896

Laytown, historically known as Nynch or Ninch[1] (Irish: an Inse), is a village on the R150 regional road on the Irish Sea coast of County Meath, Ireland. Together with the neighbouring villages of Mornington and Bettystown it comprises the census town of Laytown-Bettystown-Mornington.



The surrounding area is known to have been settled for around 1500 years; recent excavations have revealed settlement at Laytown since at least the 6th century AD.

Archaelogical finds

  • On the famous beach at Bettystown, one of the biggest historical finds in Irish history was made. In 1850 a peasant woman claimed to have found the Tara Brooch in a box buried in the sand. The Tara Brooch is now on display in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.
  • An archeological dig in 2000 revealed early Christian graves of around 50 people and a Bronze Age enclosure. Artefacts recovered include a Hiberno-Norse ring pin, though this may signify mere contact or trade with Vikings rather than their actual presence in the area.[1]
  • A blue glass bead of the early Christian period was found at the rath at Ninch West associated in legend with Laeg mac Riangabra, Cuchulain’s charioteer, from whom Laytown is said to take its name.
  • The mound at The Ninch said to be the tomb of Lay was excavated in 1982/3 by Prof. Sweetman and found to contain two Iron Age interments [2]


Laytown is 50 km (30 mi) north of the nation's capital, Dublin. Laytown and neighboring town, Bettystown, sit on one of Ireland's most scenic beachfronts. The beach stretches from Mornington at the River Boyne, which borders County Louth to Gormanston at the River Delvin, which borders County Dublin. This stretch of beach is 3 km (2 mi) long and constitutes two fifths County Meath coastline.Laytowwn or leightown is hugely significant in that it is notably older settlmement than dublin an includes the neolithic settlement of laytown and cu chu lain and leigh themselves but also the tombs of brenrore and the tome that lies at the nany.

Laytown sits on the mouth of the River Nanny, a tidal estuary where mullet, trout, eels, gobies and flounder can be caught - but no salmon. According to local folklore, Saint Patrick banished all the salmon from the river. By an old schoolhouse overlooking the river there is a spring known as St Patrick's Well, though the access path to it is overgrown.

Buildings of note

Many of Laytown's larger buildings, including the train station master's house and the large terrace homes facing onto the beach were built in the mid-nineteenth century. [3] The architecture of the Church of the Sacred Heart is of particular note: the facade is retained from the original nineteenth century, but the main building is a 1970s circular-plan single room with a large window overlooking the Irish Sea. On the hill behind the window is a twenty-foot wooden cross. [4]

Transport & communications

The village has become well established as a commuter town for people working in Dublin, fuelled by the completion of the M1 motorway linking the north east of the country to the capital. The village is served by the Northern commuter line linking Drogheda and Dundalk to Connolly station in Dublin. Laytown railway station opened on 25 May 1844[2] and was renamed as Laytown & Bettystown in 1913. An express coach service links Laytown, Bettystown and Sonairte with Parnell Street in Dublin.


The town has a garda station and a primary school and Gaelscoil. Coláiste na hInse in Laytown has been given the go ahead to go to tender for 1,000 pupils with a special needs unit. The village also consists of two pubs, a run-down hotel, two newsagents, a pharmacy, two take-aways and a train station.

Sonairte: The National Ecology Centre, is half a mile from the station on the Dublin road. [5]

Laytown on film

Both Irish and American movies (The Crying Game and Michael Collins) and television shows have been filmed all over Laytown, mostly on the beach.

Laytown today

Laytown was once a tiny coastal village, but in the past decade, the town has seen both a huge population and economic boom. With the ever developing and growing city of Dublin, Laytown, along with other villages and towns all along the east coast, has recorded a population boom. This has brought problems with overcrowded schools. [6]

Laytown races

Since 1876 Laytown has hosted a single annual horse racing meeting on its beach - one of only a couple of sand (held on the beach) race meetings run under official rules of racing in Europe. The BBC have made it the subject of a documentary, titled Racing the Tide, and have included passages in their Coast and Countryfile programmes.

See also

  • List of towns and villages in Ireland
  • Mornington
  • Donacarney
  • East Meath
  • Bettystown

External links



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