Situated on a rise in the valley of the N-S Mattock River, with the meandering stream c. 150m to the E. Monknewtown, which had been known as Ratheniskin and Rathmiskin (Cogan 1862-70, 2, 304), was a grange of the Cistercian monastery at Mellifont, and at the Suppression in 1540 Thomas Alen was the chaplain (White 1943, 219). Ussher describes the church and chancel as in a reasonable state of repair (Erlington 1847-64, 1, xcvii). According to Dopping’s Visitation (1682-5) the church was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, but the church was then in disrepair (Ellison 1973, 7).
The undivided nave and chancel parish church (ext. dims 18.7m E-W; 5.95m N-S; int. dims 16.75m E-W; 5.15m N-S) of Monknewtown is within a rectangular graveyard (dims c. 35m N-S; c. 35m E-W) defined by masonry walls. The church is represented by the W gable, which has a round-headed window and a double belfry above. A face corbel is incorporated in the W wall, but the other walls are reduced to some foundations, apart from the E wall and adjacent parts of the N and S (L 4.1m; H 2m) walls. There is a cupboard towards the E end of the N wall and a pointed piscina (Wth 0.24m; H 0.42m; D 0.29m) in the S wall.
In the cupboard is a small sandstone disc headed cross (dims 0.27m x 0.26m; T 0.09m) with short arms (L c. 6cm; Wth 8.5cm) and arc-shaped depressions in the disc to indicate the separation of the ring on each side. There is a sandstone armorial plaque (Wth 0.42m; H 0.55m) with three fish on the shield over the piscina. In the graveyard is a sandstone latin cross (H 1.3m; Wth of arms 0.49m) with a rectangular cross section (0.15m x 0.15m) and roll moulding at the angles. The E side is unadorned but the W side has a crucifixion in false relief with the sun and moon at the ends of the arms. On the stem a panel with a skull and cross bones is over an inscription with the date 1711 (FitzGerald 1904). The font (Cogan 1862-70, 2, 304) is about half an octagonal stone (dim. 0.74m; H 0.53m) narrowing towards the flat base (dim. 0.62m) with a circular basin (diam. 0.57m; D 0.2-0.26m). It has a wave-like rim which rises to peaks at the angles, but with no drain-hole in evidence. It is now in front of the Roman Catholic church at Monknewtown (ME019-018----), c. 75m to the NNW (Roe 1968, 124-5).
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 image of the gable from SW (015), the churchyard cross (012), crest with three fish (020) and small cross (023)..
Compiled by: Michael Moore
Date of revision: 15 December, 2014
Description Source: Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage