Scíre was of the Uí Chaocháin, descended from Fearghas Caochán, who was the brother of Niall Naoighiallach (of the nine hostages). She was a contemporary of St. Colum Cille, and her church at Kilskyre became part of the monastery of Kells (Ó Riain 2011, 551). The death of a successor to Scíre is recorded in 750 (Cuffe 1965, 194; Brangan 1970, 63 4) and the names of some abbots are known (Cogan 1862-70, 1, 147-8). The church of Cill Scíre was plundered by Vikings in 950 and by Diarmaid Mac Murchada in 1170 (O’Connell 1959, 27, 30).
The church became the parish church of Kilskyre, and John Taffe, William Silk and Richard Stanyhurst were recorded as the rector in 1385, 1408 and 1442 respectively (Cogan 1862 70, vol. 1, 148). A church at Kilskeer is listed in the ecclesiastical taxation (1302-06) of Pope Nicholas IV (Cal. doc. Ire. 5, 260) and Ussher (1622) describes the church and chancel as somewhat ruinous but Richard Pordan, the rector intended to repair the chancel (Erlington 1827-64, 1, lxxxviii). According to Dopping's Visitaion (1682-5) the Plunketts of Rathmore were the patrons and Richard Duddle was the rector. The church was then out of repair, but it was enclosed (Ellison 1973, 9).
The remains of a church in the graveyard are probably medieval and were measured as ’82 feet by 27 feet 3 inches (c. 25m x c. 8.3m) … with a triple belfry at the W end’ by Cogan (1862-70, 1, 149). The nave (int. dims c. 15.35m E-W; c. 7.7m N-S) is defined by the remains of the W wall, an earthen bank (Wth 4.4m; int. H 0.7m; ext. H 1m) at N and two fragments of masonry at S, but the belfry does not survive. The chancel (int. dims c. 10m E-W; c. 6m N-S) is defined by fragments of wall at N (int. L 7.2m) and E (int. L c. 5m). There is the grass-covered base of a tower (ext. dims 4.35m E-W; c. 6m N-S) attached to the N end of the W wall of the nave.
The graveyard as marked on the 1836 ed. of the OS 6-inch map was rectangular (dims c. 65m E-W; c. 40m N-S) but it has been extended to the W (dim. c. 80m E-W) and is defined by earthen banks at W and N, a masonry wall at E and a scarp at S. The chest tomb of Hugh O’Reilly and his wife Katherine Plunkett (L 2.02m; Wth 0.96m; T 0.08m) that was built by his son in 1686 is at the E end of the church with two armorial crests inset in the wall above it (King 1987, 295-6). A lintel with a small armorial plaque and the date 1631 is in the graveyard, but this may be from the tower house (ME016-042----) that is just to the SW of the church and within the present graveyard. St Scire's well (ME016-043008-) is at the roadside c. 160m SE of the church and was restored in 2008 (French 2012, 93-4).
There are large enclosures from the field system (ME016-044----) in the surrounding fields. An archaeo-magnetic survey in the surrounding fields identified elements of an ecclesiastical enclosure in two parallel ditches 20m apart curving around the graveyard just to its N. A small rectangular building (dims c. 10m E-W; c. 6m N-S) was identified c. 50m E of the graveyard is interpreted as a possible church and there was extensive evidence of ridge and furrow cultivation. (Gibson 2007)
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 armorial stones at the O'Reilly tomb (007), and the tomb surrounds (009) and (016).
Compiled by: Michael Moore
Date of revision: 12 December, 2014
Description Source: Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage