Situated on top of a broad hill within the town of Oldcastle. The church of Coul is listed in the ecclesiastical taxation (1302-06) of Pope Nicholas IV (Cal. doc. Ire. 5, 260). Ussher (1622) lists a church at Oldcastle but provides no information (Erlington 1847-64, 1, cxviii). At the Suppression (1540) the church of Oldcastell was worth £6 to the abbey of Fore, Co. Westmeath (White 1943, 273). According to the Civil Survey (1654-6) Lord Dunsany owned 360 acres at Oldcastle in 1640 where the old castle and church are listed (Simington 1940, 268). Dopping's Visitation Book 1682- 5 notes that St, Bridget’s church of Oldcastle or Clotyn was in ruins since 1641 (O'Connell 1965, 171 2), but it was enclosed (Ellison 1975, 8). The present Church of Ireland church was built in 1816 (Lewis 1837, vol. 2, 448) and is on the on the site of the medieval parish church of Oldcastle or Clolyne.
The church site is within a rectangular graveyard (dims c. 45m E-W; c. 38m N-S) defined by masonry walls. Almost 60 memorials from the church and graveyard have been published, about half of which date from the 18th century (ffolliott and Jones (1968). Outside the church there is an unfinished disc-headed cross (H 0.5m; Wth 0.72m; T 0.14m) with the top part of the shaft missing, which probably led to the work being abandoned. The arms are short (L 0.1-0.14m; H c. 0.2m) and a large boss was being excavated on one face of the stone. The cross has a collar (Wth 0.4m; H 0.1m) and a shaft (dims 0.25m x 0.17m; visible H 0.36m) below. It may be 17th century in date. The memorial of Philip Tuite from Drumsawry dated 1692 (Ball-Wright 1908-09), which was in the church at Lough Crew (ME015-027003-), is now set into the inside of the N wall of the tower at the ground floor. It is a sandstone slab (H 1.88m; Wth 0.8-0.9m) with the Latin inscription incised in roman lettering under a shield in relief that is quartered and retains traces of blue and red colours.
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 revision: 10 December, 2014Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.