Located on Church Island in Lough Sheelin, which is on the borders of counties Meath, Westmeath and Cavan, with county Longford c. 6km further W. According to the Martyrology of Donegal Inis Uachtair in Lough Sileann belonged to St. Carthach, of Kilcar, (Cill Charthaigh – DG096-010005-) Co. Donegal, who was also the bishop of Seirkieran, Co. Offaly (OF039-003005-). Carthach was descended from the Kings of Cashel and he was the immediate successor of St. Ciarán, the founder of Seirkieran (Ó Riain 2011, 158-9). In the middle ages Inis Uachtair may have been a place of pilgrimage and it was regarded as within the kingdom of Tethbha, which is now Co. Longford (O’Connell 1965, 176-7).
A small structure is on a N-facing slope on the overgrown island. It has been described (ibid. 177-8) as the outline of a small oratory ‘twenty feet by fourteen (c. 6.1m x c. 4.25m). The orientation is east to west. The west gable about twelve feet (c. 3.65m) in height is the most substantial remnant; it is constructed of rough masonry and evidently belongs to a very early period; there are no traces of window opes. There are some fragments, about five feet (c. 1.5m) in height of the west gable and north wall. The doorway was probably on the south.
To the south of the oratory are some remains of a small detached building of later date which may have served as a residence; the northeast corner, about four feet (c. 1.2m) in height, is all that can at present be traced. Close by is a detached wall about 12 feet (c. 3.65m) in length by four in height; it is about three feet (c. 0.9m) in thickness and the structure to which it belonged must have been a massive one…. According to popular tradition there was a cemetery on the island; it is marked as such on the Ordnance Survey maps. Owing to the present overgrown condition of the site it is impossible to ascertain its exact location, but it would appear to have extended northwest of the church where the ground is more level.’
The above description is derived from the published 'Archaeological Inventory of County Meath' (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1987). In certain instances the entries have been revised and updated in the light of recent research.
Compiled by: Michael Moore
Date of upload/revision: 25 July 2014Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.