Athboy was one of the four walled towns in Co. Meath and it seems to have been walled from the early fourteenth century. A grant of murage was made in 1306 and the construction of the walls may have begun shortly afterwards. Further grants of murage were made in 1446 and 1462 after the town had been burned by O’Connor Offaly in 1443, and it was still listed as a walled town in 1596 (Bradley and King 1985, 19-20).
The town was quite large but the only part of the town wall that survives visibly is a section (L c. 100m) with a base-batter extending WSW from the graveyard (ME029-023012-) of the parish church but it could include the wall on the S side of the graveyard and a boundary wall further NE (total L c. 220m). The surviving wall (H 2-3m; T 0.9m) is of roughly coursed masonry with a rubble core. Towards the WSW end an open-backed tower (int. diam. c. 2.45m) projects from the wall and has an internal rebate to support a second floor. A short section of an external ditch or fosse (L 26m; Wth of top 3.6m; Wth of base 1.6m; ext. D 2.4m) is between the tower and the graveyard. (ibid. 19-20)
Excavation (01E0883; 01E0883 ext.) c. 50m W of the surviving tower (Danaher 2001; 2003; O’Hara 2002; 2004) discovered a robber-trench (Wth of top 1.45-2.2.5m; D 0.9-1.5m) on the WNW-ESE line of the town wall (L 50m plus), which is on a different alignment to the ENE-WSW section of surviving wall. The robbed section was probably running to a gate at the junction of O’Growney Street, formerly Chapel Street, and Main Street.
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 revision: 28 February 2019
Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.