Situated on a slight E facing slope, with the SW-NE River Boyne in its steep sided valley c. 450m to the E and S. This is an early ecclesiastical site, known as Domhnach Mór Maigh Echnach, which was traditionally founded by St Patrick with Cassanus as its first abbot (Cogan 1862-70, 1, 128). The death of abbot Robhartach Mac Flainn is recorded in AD 845 and it was plundered by Vikings in 854 (Gwynn and Hadcock 1970, 34). In the 13th century it became a parish church, and it is listed in the ecclesiastical taxation (1304-06) of Pope Nicholas IV (Cal. doc. Ire. 5, 261). Nicholas Symonds was vicar of St. Patricks in the early 15th century (Cogan 1862-70, 1, 130). Ussher (1622) describes the church and chancel as ruined (Erlington 1847-64, 1, lxxxix), and Dopping (1682-5) described it as ‘ruined a long time’ and the graveyard was not fenced (Ellison 1973, 5).
The round tower (ext. diam. 4.98m; H 26.6m) with a round headed doorway c. 3m above ground level facing E (Barrow 1979, 162 6), which is surmounted by crucifixion scene (Harbision 2000, 24) is at the W edge of a subrectangular graveyard (dims c. 45m NE SW; c. 40m NW SE) defined by masonry walls. The tower was consolidated in 1841 by a local landowner, who is probably responsible for the lack of openings and the flat cap at the top. Isaac Butler writing c. 1749 describes ‘four windows under a pyramid’ (Butler 1892, 126). The W wall of a medieval church with a double belfry above is in the graveyard. (Wilde 1850, 135-8)
The damaged head of a sandstone high cross (H 0.63m; original Wth c. 0.45m), now in the National Museum of Ireland, is almost certainly that described by Wilde (1857, 1, 141-2) as being from Donaghmore. The shaft was divided into panels and interlace is confined to a knot at the crux and on the ring (Harbison 1992, 185). Two cross-slabs and a graveslab are in the graveyard. An upright sandstone (dims 0.56m x 0.22m; H 1.2m) with a pointed top has a lightly incised moulding on the edges of one face which also has the stem and the base of a ring (diam. 0.35m) represented by a slightly raised band (Wth 5cm) or incised lines. Another sandstone upright (dims 0.45m x 0.1-0.18m; H 1.1m) has a rebate as a secondary feature down one side, but the shaft and part of the ring of a cross represented by a slightly raised band (Wth c. 5cm) is visible on the same face. A sandstone graveslab (L 1.42m; Wth 0.38-0.51m; T 0.11-0.15m) with a floriated cross that has fleur-de-lys terminals is set upright in the wall of the graveyard (ME025-015003-) W of the round tower.
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 attached image taken from the E.
Compiled by: Michael Moore
Date of revision: 16 December, 2014
Description Source: Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage