Situated on the NE SW ridge of Dowth. The church of St. David at Dowth is recorded from at least 1202-04 (Stout 2002, 99), and a church at Donnethe is listed in the ecclesiastical taxation (1302-06) of Pope Nicholas (1288-92) (Cal. doc. Ire. 5, 261). Douth is amongst the possession of Llanthony at the Suppression in 1540 (White 1943, 316). Ussher (1622) describes the church and chancel as reasonably well repaired (Erlington 1847-64, 1, xcvii). According to Dopping’s Visitation (1682-5) the church was ruined since 1641, the graveyard was not enclosed, and the church was dedicated to St. Sinnac (Ellison 1973, 5). This is Seanchán, one of the seven sons of Lughaidh, of the Uí Chéithigh branch of Leinster, whose siblings are associated with churches in the Dublin/Kildare area, but little else is known about him (Ó Riain 2011, 560 1).
The parish church of Dowth is a divided nave (ext. dims 12.6m E-W; c. 7m E-W) and chancel (ext. dims 10.7m E-W; c. 6.5m E-W) structure within a subrectangular graveyard (dims c. 60-65m E-W; c. 35-40m N-S) defined by masonry walls. The walls are almost complete, but much of the chancel has been rebuilt, and it may have had a sacristy attached to its N wall (Stout 2007, 342). The nave has opposing round-headed doorways towards the W end of the N and S walls. There is a pointed window (Wth 0.5m; H 1.5m) with a glazing groove and bar-holes in the W gable with a double belfry over it. There are two blocked windows in the S wall of the chancel, and an aumbry towards its E end.
A sheela-na-gig, which was damaged by the erection of a headstone, is recorded from the exterior of the S wall of the church (Guest 1936, 113; Andersen 1977, 148). The font is now at the Roman Catholic church at Monknewtown (ME019-018001-). This is an octagonal stone (dim 0.75m; H 0.52m) tapering towards the base with a circular basin (diam. 0.57m; D 0.17m) that has a wave-like rim, rising to peaks at the angles, but it lacks a drain-hole (Roe 1968, 124-5). A broken graveslab was recorded in the graveyard re-used as a grave-marker by Du Noyer in 1867 (Stout 2007, Fig. 6), but has not been noted since. Dowth tower house (ME020-018----) is c. 30m to the NE. (Cogan 1862-70, 2, 204-08)
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: 15 December, 2014Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.