Situated on a broad E-W ridge. The manor of Dowth is first recorded as in the possession of Ralph de Picheford in 1234 and an inquiry in 1253 described the manor as five ploughlands with a garden and dovecote on a demesne of 132 acres. The manor had passed to the Netterville family by the end of the thirteenth century, and they retained it down to the nineteenth. In 1409 Luke Netterville was confirmed in the possession of Dowth. In 1622 Nicholas was raised to the peerage as the first Viscount Netterville (Stout 2007, 335-8). A gabled structure on the perimeter of a subcircular enclosure that has two smaller towers is represented at Dowth on the Down Survey (1656-8) barony map of Slane (http://downsurvey.tcd.ie/). According to the Civil Survey (1654-6) Sir John Netterville owned the manor of Dowth with 442 acres there in 1640, which had ‘a stone house, a stable and divers other outhouses, also a church, a farmhouse, a malthouse and bawn, a corn mill and tuck mill’ (Simington 1940, 351). They retained the estate through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but the last Viscount Netterville, bequeathed the castle and 60 acres to a charity and the castle became incorporated into the Netterville Institute, a seven bay, two storey and attic house attached to the E, to provide accommodation for widows and orphans (D’Alton 1844, 2, 390, 433-4; Lewis 1837, 1, 496; Stout 2007, 338).
This is a three-storey tower house with a stairs tower at the NE angle and a base-batter on the walls. The original entrance is through a flat-arched doorway in a projecting tower at the centre of the S wall that has a fragment of a bawn wall extending S from it. The ground floor has an E-W vault with traces of wicker-centring and corbels for a loft. There is a fireplace and oven in the W wall and three inserted windows in the N wall. The original stairs in the S tower is removed but the first floor has a fireplace in the W wall, and a flat-arched doorway with decorative punch-dressing leads to a garderobe in the NE tower that has two finely decorated trefoil ventilators. The remaining features are inserted and second floor was entirely rebuilt in the Victorian era. (Stout 2007 346-8)
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 revised upload: 22 June 2016Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.