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Situated on a slight rise in the valley of the W-E River Nanny, with the meandering stream c. 130m to the N. A church at Ballygarth is not listed in the Ecclesiastical taxation (1302-06) of Pope Nicholas IV (Cal. doc. Ire. 5, 252-4), but Ussher (1622) describes the church and chancel as indifferently repaired (Erlington 1847-64, 1, lxiii). The parish church of Ballygarth was virtually a manorial church as the whole parish amounting to 348 acres and only two townlands was owned by Lord Netterville of Ballygarth in 1640 (Simington 1940, 5). The church is marked on the Down Survey (1656-8) map of Co. Meath. According to Dopping’s Visitation (1682-5) the church was dedicated to St. George but had been out of repair since 1641 and was not enclosed (Ellison 1971, 34). The land at Ballygarth passed to the Peppard family in the 1650s, and the church became the family burial ground. There are some headstones inside the church but there is no evidence of a surrounding graveyard.
This is an undivided nave and chancel church (int. dims 14m E-W; 7.5m N-S) which had a N aisle added, probably in the 16th century when the original N wall removed. There are two lights towards the E end of the N wall and a larger window towards the W end. There is a destroyed doorway or window at the centre of this wall. There is a doorway towards the W end of the S wall with a porch. The outer doorway of the porch has a dressed architrave. There is a rectangular window in a pointed embrasure E of this doorway, but a window further E is destroyed. There is a blocked doorway towards the E end of the S wall and there is a decorated trefoil-headed aumbry at the S end of the E wall. There is a tall trefoil-headed window in the W gable and a two-light round-headed window in the W wall of the N aisle. The remains of a triple belfry are over the W gable. The E window has a large triple-light window with round-headed lights. A loose stone in the church has the initials ‘S.R.’ ‘IHS’ and ‘N’ over a crest with three raised diamonds, which is the crest of the Gifford family, and the date 1602 beneath. The core of the church is perhaps mid-13th century in date with additions and alterations in the 16th century (O’Neill 2002, 9).
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: 22 December, 2014
Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.