This is a National Monument (No. 256), and it is located in a broad valley with a small canalised N-S stream c. 60m to the E. Robertstown is a Barnwall manor and the graveslab of Alexander Barnwall who died in 1596 is in Robertstown church (ME011-005----) c. 250m to the NNE. The motte (ME011-004----) is c. 260m to the NW. According to the Civil Survey (1654-6) Margaret Barnwall, a widow and an Irish Papist, owned 530 acres at Robertstown in Kilbeg parish in 1640, and on the premises were ‘a castle, a church out of repair, a mill, a fishing weare and some cabbins’. She owned a further 130 acres at Carlanstowne in the same parish (Simington 1940, 307-09). Gerald Barnwell of Robertstown, perhaps her late husband, is recorded as the proprietor of over a thousand acres known as Ballybreaghy in Moybologe parish further to the NW but in Kilmore diocese (ibid. 313). The house may have been occupied into the nineteenth century as it is depicted as a roofed structure on the 1836 ed. of the OS 6-inch map.
This is a rectangular three storey and attic house (ext. dims c. 11.3m N-S; 8.45m E-W) with good quoins, which has two-storey rectangular turrets at the NW and SE angles supported from the first floor by continuous machicoulis in the Scottish style. The NW turret is also at an angle of a bawn which extended to the N and E, and a later wing was added immediately N of the original house. The original entrance is a lintelled doorway (Wth 1.01m; H 1.8m) with a yett in the N wall. The two barrel-vaults on the ground floor were inserted when the later wing was built on the N side, probably in the seventeenth century. The ground floor has a small corbelled chamber (int. dims 1.1m N-S; 0.8m E-W) with a single light on the E wall in the thickness of the wall at the SE angle. There is another light on the E wall and two lights on both the S and W walls. A newel stairs inside the entrance doorway and on the E side leads only to the first floor (int. dims 9.65m N-S; 6.13m E-W) now but might have continued to the second originally.
There is a two-light rectangular window on the E wall lighting the stairs and a wide opening (Wth 1.23m) extending from the floor, the only other feature on the E wall, may have been a window embrasure adapted into a doorway when the N wing obscured the original, ground-floor doorway. There is a destroyed window in the S wall, and the W wall has a central fireplace with a two-light rectangular window just to the S and a single narrow window to the N. A narrow lintelled doorway accesses the SE turret (int. dims 1.75m N-S; 1.7m E-W), which has large two-light windows in the E and S walls and small key-hole pistol-loops covering the E and S walls of the house. The joists for the ceiling of this chamber are set into the E and W walls. The NW turret had a similar window in its W wall, now destroyed, and its gun-loops cover the W wall of the house and the W wall of the bawn, extending to the N, which was later incorporated into the W wall of the N wing. A pointed doorway, probably re-used from the church to the N, leads from the NW turret to what was the wall-walk of the bawn but is now the first floor of the N wing, also accessed by an inserted lintelled doorway beside the pointed one.
The N wall of the house is rebated to support the floor of the second storey, which also has a doorway from the NW turret and an inserted lintelled doorway into the N wing. The second floor does not survive otherwise, except as a small window in the S wall and part of the S wall and a gun-loop of the SE turret. Two corbels in the S face of the N wall supported the floor of the loft, which is also evident in a round-headed window in the S gable that probably came from a church.
A building (ext. dims 13.2m plus N-S; 9.45m E-W) was added to the N, incorporating the W wall of the bawn, including a light now in the northern of two surviving E-W barrel-vaulted chambers with evidence of a third to the N. At the ground floor a doorway on the E wall with a large window opening on either side leads into the S chamber, and a rebuilt doorway on the E wall with a large window to the N leads into the N chamber. There is an oven under a brick relieving arch in the S chamber, and wide doorways connected the three chambers internally. Access to the first floor is by the newel stairs in the older house and inserted doorways in the N wall of this house at the first and second floors. Only the first floor, divided into two chambers (S: int. dim. 4.8m N-S; N: int. dim. 5.55m N-S) separated by a wall (T 0.57m) with two doorway openings survives. The S chamber has two tall window openings (Wth 0.73m) in the W wall and two (Wth 0.63m) with window sills in the E. There is a doorway (Wth 1.2m) at the centre of the E wall, perhaps to match that in the older house. The N chamber has two tall window openings and evidence of a third in the W wall and evidence of two openings in the E wall.
This is a monument in state ownership: No. 256.
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.
See the attached view from the SW (_1) and of the SE turret (_2)
Compiled by: Michael Moore
Date of revision: 16 November 2016Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.