Situated at the N end of a SE-NW spur with the S-N Killary Water stream in its valley c. 60m to the SW. This is the site of an early church, and the parish church of Killary is within a rectangular graveyard (dims c. 67m ENE-WSW; c. 45m NNW-SSE) defined by earthen banks. A church at Kilavery is listed in the ecclesiastical taxation (1302-06) of Pope Nicholas IV (Cal. doc. Ire. 5, 261). Ussher (1622) describes the church and chancel as ruinous (Erlington 1847-64, xcv). According to Dopping’s and the Royal Visitations (1682-5; 1697) the church of St. Ivarii (Iobhar of Begerin ? (WX038-004001-)) was in ruins since 1641, although it was fenced (Ellison 1973, 6). This saint was probably born in the Louth – Meath area and could have associations with many early Irish saints including St. Abán of Adamstown (WX031-023001-). His death is thought to have occurred c. 504-10, and his feastday was on the 23rd of April (Ó Riain 2011, 381-2).
Much of the walls of a divided nave (int. dims 13.75m E-W; 6.15m N-S) and chancel (int. dims 8.4m E-W; 5.8m N-S) church survives almost complete with conserved walls (Wth 0.9m; H c. 2.5m), apart from the E wall, which is reduced to the foundations. All the original decorative features have been removed. There are opposing doorways towards the W end of the N and S walls. There is a window embrasure E of the S doorway but the N wall opposite is removed. There are two window embrasures in the S chancel wall, and evidence of one opposite the W window on the N wall, but a mausoleum (ext. dims 5.15m N-S; 4.5m E-W) with a corbelled roof was added to its E. It has a double-splay window (Wth 0.3m; H 0.68m) in the E wall. The lintelled doorway (Wth 0.75m; H 1.58m) with a dressed sandstone surround has a dedication to Patrick Russell of Mitchelstown dated 1818, but this is an insertion onto an older structure.
The decorated shaft of a high cross (dims 0.4m x 0.26m; H 1.3m) and its subcircular base (diam. 1.3m) is NW of the church (Crawford 1926, 2-3). From the bottom the E face has Adam and Eve, Noah’s ark, the sacrifice of Isaac and Daniel in the lions’ den, while the W face has the annunciation to shepherds, the baptism of Christ, the adoration of the Magi and the marriage feast at Cana. The N and S faces are largely interlace but there are two portraits of David (?) on the N side (Harbison 1992, 1, 124-5). Another base (dims 0.72m; x 0.6m; H 0.4m) with edge mouldings and a fragment from the centre of a high cross is at the N corner of the graveyard. Two fragments with decorated panels that were found in the graveyard and are now in the National Museum of Ireland may have been from this cross (ibid. 125-6). There is a smaller pyramidal cross-base (dims of base 0.6m x 0.6m; H 0.5m) of sandstone with edge mouldings on the top within the church, but a fragment of a cross-slab (dims 0.54m x 0.4m; T 0.2m) with interlace in false relief on the only surviving arm of the cross that was noted in 1984 was not located.
There is a standing stone with a diamond-shaped or D-shaped cross-section (dims 0.5m N-S; 0.4m E-W; H 1.1m) and a N-S alignment inside the perimeter at S. Its top has a N-S crest (L 0.3m). An attempt had been made to destroy the stone and its W side has a hacked appearance. In the graveyard is a rectangular grave-slab (dims 1.91m x 1.01m; T 0.1m) with a panel (dims 0.71m x 0.71m) depicting symbols of mortality – a coffin, skull and cross-bones with a heart between them, a bell and an hour-glass. Its incised inscription is illegible, but it might be late 17th century in date.
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 views of the high cross from SW (001), from NE (005) and SE (013). See attached view of the graveslab (025).
Compiled by: Michael Moore
Date of revision: 23 May 2014
Amended: 19 July, 2014Description Source: Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage