Situated on a rise in a fairly level landscape in the valley of the NW-SE River Blackwater, with the stream c. 1km to the E. A church at Martira is listed in the ecclesiastical taxation (1302-06) of Pope Nicholas IV (Cal. doc. Ire. 5, 256). The church was a possession of the Knights Hospitallers of Kilmainham in Dublin at the Suppression in 1541 (Cogan 1862-70, 2, 260-1; White 1943, 115). Ussher (1622) describes it as ruinous (Erlington 1847-64, 1, lxxxvi). According to Dopping’s Visitation (1682-5) the church was ruined but the chancel was roofed with slates, the windows were glazed, it had a clay floor, and was dedicated to St. Bridget. The graveyard was also fenced at that time (Ellison 1972, 11). The parish church of Martry is in a subrectangular graveyard (dims c. 50-65m E W; c. 40m N-S) defined by masonry walls that has been extended (dims c. 50m E-W; c. 15m N-S) on the N side.
An undivided nave and chancel church (int. dims 10.4m E-W; 5.4m N-S; ext. dims 12.75m E-W; 6.8-6.9m N-S) survives with walls (H c. 2m; T 0.65m) fairly complete. There is a doorway (Wth 1m), originally with a pointed chamfered arch, and two, two-light windows (Wth 0.8m) in the S wall, but the heads of the windows and central mullions are missing. There is a cusped ogee-headed window with glazing-grooves that has been widened in the W wall, but the E window is destroyed. There is a blocked embrasure towards the E end of the N wall, but no evidence of a window. The font from this church is now in St. Columba’s church in Kells (ME017-044041-). This is a fragment of the lower part of the basin (dims. c. 0.39m) of an octagonal font with ribs at the angles, and an angel's haed and wings on the lower panel (Roe 1968, 68). St. Bridget’s well (ME017-047----) is c. 300m to the NW.
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 revision: 15 December, 2014Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.