There are references to a monastery of Kildalkey in the 8th century (Cuffe 1965, 194). An early monastery was founded by St Dympna or Damhnad of Tedavnet in Co. Monaghan, and she is also the patron of the church of Kildalkey. However, it is unlikely that she founded a church here with St Treana or Trian of Deadh, as its first abbot in the 5th century as suggested by Cogan (1862-70, 1, 141-3) since Trian may be associated with Kildellig, Co. Laois (Ó Riain 2011, 256-7, 577). A church at Kildalket is listed in the ecclesiastical taxation (1302-06) of Pope Nicholas IV (Cal. doc. Ire. 5, 256) and Ussher (1622) describes the church and chancel as ruined (Erlington 1847-64, 1, lxxxv). Dopping (1682-5) describes it in the same condition and it was not then fenced (Ellison 1972, 12).
The parish church of Kildalkey is situated on a rise in a level landscape and was within a circular graveyard (diam. c. 50-60m), which is now extended into a large sub-rectangular cemetery (dims c. 140m NW-SE; 45-70m NE-SW) extending to the W, which is defined by masonry and cement walls. The church is a divided nave (int. dims 13.35m E-W; c. 7m N-S) and chancel structure, of which only the pointed chancel arch (Wth 1.8m; H 2.5m) and portion of a tower (dims c. 5m E-W; c. 5m N-S) at the W end of the nave remain. A later mausoleum occupies the ground floor of the tower, of which only the N wall survives. St Dympna's holy well (ME029-020002-) is c. 60m to the E.
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: 2 January 2015
Description Source: Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage