Situated on a rise in a gently undulating landscape. St. Caomhán Breac (speckled), whose dates (AD 529-625) are recorded in the annals, is descended from the Dál Riada of NE Ulster. He is recorded in a life of St. Féichín of Fore, whose church (WM004-035003-) is c. 13km to the WSW. St. Caomhán’s feast was on 14 September (Ó Riain 2011, 155-6). The church of Ruscaugh is listed in the Papal taxation of 1303 (O’Connell 1965, 173). The parish church of Diamor, known as Clonabreany, is mentioned in Dowdall’s Register in 1539, and according to Dopping’s Visitation (1682-5) the church and chancel were down and the graveyard was not enclosed (Ellison 1975, 9). It is on the ancient church site within a rectangular graveyard (dims c. 45-55m E-W; c. 43-46m N-S), which was defined by earthen banks with trees. The perimeter at E forms the townland boundary with Clonabreany, but archaeological testing (90E0045) demonstrated that it was of relatively recent construction (Meenan 1991), and the graveyard is now surrounded by a masonry wall.
The church was described as being ’72 feet by 25 (dims c. 22m x c. 7.6m) and for the most part torn down’ (Cogan 1862-7, vol. 2, 323-4). A moss-covered stone set upright on its long side in the NW corner (dims 1.5m x 0.9m; T 0.25-0.3m) of the graveyard has about 30-40 cup-marks (diam. 3-5cm) on one face and may have had more as two shallow hollows probably represent damage. Eogan (2008, 5) tentatively suggests the this and other stones of megalithic proportions may have derived from a passage tomb. There is no visible evidence of the church, but a stone with a hole at the top and an incised cross with expanded terminals is re-used as a grave-marker in the graveyard. An altar tomb of Oliver Plunkett (d. 1581) and his wife Elizabeth Dillon (d. 1595) consisting of the top slab (dims 2.05m x 1.3m; T 0.15m) with a Latin inscription and the S side-slab (L 1.88m; H 0.69m) with three heraldic shields is in the centre of the graveyard. The most westerly shield has the arms of Plunkett and Dillon, and the other two shields have the symbols of the Passion (ibid. vol. 2, 322). All the inscriptions in the graveyard are recorded (Moore and Kenny 1976).
A cross-slab with a ringed cross has been recorded by Crawford (1913, 328, No. 4) and further cross-slabs came to light in the 1960s and 1970s (Moore and Kenny 1975, 35). At the moment there are six sandstone cross-slabs incorporated into the inner face of the graveyard wall close to the entrance at SW. A rectangular stone (dims 0.72m x 0.25m) has a bar-bell shape incised with four lines and an inscribed OR DO. A slab (dims 0. 97m x 0.42m) has a cross in circle inscribed with double lines and the word OR can be identified as well as a sun and moon symbols. The largest stone (dims 1.24m x 0.32-0.55m) has a ringed cross defined by double lines, and the head expands into a T-shape; OR DO is inscribed above the crux. A small solid-ring cross has lost its upper half (Wth 0.32m; H 0.39m) and has a short shaft (Wth 0.15m; H 0.25m). A stone (dims 0.78m x 0.48m) has no apparent device, and a slab (dims 0.69m x 0.48m) has a ringed cross defined by double incised lines and D-shaped terminals. It is inscribed ‘OR DO’.
St. Kevin’s Well, which was restored in 1990, is across the road to the SW. It is a D-shaped corbelled structure (dims 1.15m x 0.9m; H 1.2m) c. 1m below the level of the road and the origin of a stream that flows off to the SW. Six steps lead down from the road to a cemented area (dims 2.6m NW-SE; 1.15-2.8m NE-SW) over the stream, and there is a young rag tree where the stream emerges from this patio. This is a replacement for an old ash tree that fell in 1971 (Moore and Kenny 1976, 33). The well is said to have cure for warts, but no pattern is held at it.
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: 26 May 2014
Amended: 17 June, 2014Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.