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Moylagh church is situated on a small NNW SSE ridge c. 3km SW of the W end of the Loughcrew Hills. Moylagh parish is listed in the ecclesiastical taxation (1302-06) of Pope Nicholas IV (Cal. doc. Ire., 5, 259), and the church is listed by Dowdall in 1539 (O’Connell 1965, 173). Ussher (1622) describes the church and chancel as reasonably well repaired (Erlington 1847-64, 1, cxvii). According to the Regal Visitation (1693) only the church walls were standing and 'it was not well fenced' (Ellington 1975, 9). The parish church of Moylagh is within a D-shaped or subrectangular graveyard (dims c. 50m NW-SE at SW to c. 70m NW-SE at NE; c. 35m NE-SW) defined by stone walls.
Fragments of the S and W walls of a single cell structure (int. dims 14.1m E-W; 7.7m N-S) survive together with the grass-covered mound (Wth c. 4m; H 0.7m) of the N wall and the S end of the E wall (L 1.35m; H c. 3.5m) that has an aumbry. The tower (ext. dims 6.75m E-W; 6.05m N-S) of three storeys and attic stands at the W end of the S nave wall, and has rounded corners at SE and SW and a base-batter. Its ground floor is buried and inaccessible but there is a double-splay light in the S wall. There is a destroyed doorway from the nave to the first floor (int. dims 4.05m N-S; 3.75m E-W) of the tower over the vault, with a cupboard in the N wall and destroyed windows in flat-arched embrasures where they survive on the other walls. There is a garderobe with a damaged chute and a light at the NW angle of the tower. There is an alcove (Wth 1.6m; D 0.7m; H c. 1m) at the S end of the E wall and holes for corbels or joists in the N and S walls to support the ceiling. A newel stairs at the SW angle rises to the second floor that has a destroyed window on the E wall and the remains of a rectangular window with glazing bars in a flat-arched embrasure on the S walls. The stairs continue to an attic that has a destroyed window in the E wall, and the pitch of its roof can be seen in the stairs housing that rises to a wall-walk on the W wall.
The head of a solid disc-headed cross (diam. c. 0.48m; T c. 0.1m) with a cross on one side and a sunken quatrefoil on the other, which was in the graveyard in 1969 (SMR file), is no longer present. Adams (1870-1) says that there is an underground chamber beneath the W end of the church, which is very unlikely and he may have intended the tower. He records the graveslab of Edmond Maolagh (1583) ’19 in. by 15 in. (c. 0.48m x c. 0.38m)’ that is no long present but which was also recorded by Du Noyer c. 1864 (1895). Adams also records the graveslab erected by Theobalt Cut and his wife Rose Moore (1637) that is now set up vertically (Wth 0.86m; visible H 1.35m; T 0.13-0.18m) in the church. It is in English and carved in gothic lettering in false relief.
The rath (ME015-031----) is c. 55m to the NNW and the motte (ME015-033002-) and castle (ME015-032001-) are c. 85m to the SSE. The field system (ME015-034----) in Milltown townland, immediately E of the graveyard is probably associated with the castle.
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 of the tower from the SE (007) and the graveslab (019).
Compiled by: Michael Moore
Date of revision: 27 January 2015
Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.