The parish church of Ardmulchan is located at the top of the steep W facing slope down to the SW-NE River Boyne where the stream is about 100m to the W and turning N. Reference date from at least 1232, and the names of many of the clergy are known (Cogan 1862 70, 1, 340-1). A church at Ardmulhan is listed in the ecclesiastical taxation (1302-06) of Pope Nicholas IV (Cal. doc. Ire. 5, 252). In Ussher’s Visitation (1622) at Armalgham the church and chancel were ruined but the rector was repairing the chancel (Erlington 1847-64, 1, lxi). According to Dopping’s Visitation (1682-5) the church was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, the walls of the nave and chancel were still standing, but the graveyard was not enclosed (Ellison 1971, 33 4). At this time the parish was already united with Painestown. The church is within a subrectangular graveyard (dims c. 48-58m E-W; c. 35m N-S at E to c. 57m N-S at W) defined by masonry walls.
The church is a divided nave (int. dims 13.75m E-W; 5.7m N-S) and chancel (int. dims 8.8m E-W; 5.6m N-S) structure (ext. dims 25.6m E-W; c. 8m N-S) with only parts of the foundations of the nave and sections of the ivy covered and featureless N an S walls of the chancel (H c. 2m) surviving. The junction of the nave and chancel survives at N, with a fragment of the chancel arch wall and steps from a newel stairs in the pier, indicating a rood-loft. A bell tower (ext. dims 5.35m N-S; 3.45m E-W) of three storeys, is vaulted over the ground floor and has a base-batter. It is attached to the W end of the church and the ground floor chamber (int. dims 2.34m N-S; 2.14m E-W) has three holes in the vault for bell-pulls. A destroyed doorway leads from the nave to a mural stairs in the S and W walls which rise to the first floor of the tower. Only the W wall of the belfry stage with a large broken-out opening survives.
A broken graveslab (dims 1.89m x 0.83m; T 0.13-0.18m) in the chancel is now completely plain but had an incised gothic inscription in English referring to Porter of Kingstown (FitzGerald 1910, 134). Beside it another slab (dims 1.83m x 0.82m; T 0.13m) has some decoration in relief and the fragmentary Latin inscription in relief referred to Walter Porter, who died in 1623 (ibid. 135). In the graveyard is a sandstone cross slab (H 0.62 0.66m; Wth 0.38 48m; T 0.1m) with a raised ringed cross (int. diam. 0.25m; ext. diam. 36m), which may be the slab noted by Wilde (1850, 142) as re-used on a doorway in the tower. Also in the graveyard is the probable 17th century graveslab (dims 1.95m x 1.04m) of Brian O’Hairt inscribed in Latin with Roman letters. A date is not given, but the sundial provided (ibid. 137) is perhaps unique. A cresset stone from this graveyard is now in the National Museum of Ireland (Moore 1984, 114).
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 general view of the tower from SE.
Revised by: Michael Moore
Date of revised upload: 16 December, 2014
Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.