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Situated on a slight E-facing slope. The parish church of Ardsallgh, also known as Cannistown (Cogan 1862-70, 1, 114-5), is within a rectangular graveyard (dims c. 50m N-S; c. 40m E-W) defined by masonry walls and has headstones dating from 1726. A church at Ardsalach is listed in the ecclesiastical taxation (1302-06) of Pope Nicholas IV (Cal. doc. Ire. 5, 256). Ussher (1622) describes the church at Ardsallage as ruinous but the chancel was repaired (Erlington 1847-64, 1, lxxxvi). According to Dopping (1682-5) the church and chancel of St Bridget were in ruins since 1641 and it was not enclosed (Ellison 1972, 11). It is a National Monument known as Cannistown church (Harbison 1970, 180).
This is a divided nave (int. dims 12.5m E-W; 5.45m N-S) and chancel (int. dims 7.38m E-W; 4.52m N-S) structure that survives almost complete, except for much of the N walls (ext. dims 22.85m E-W; 7.25m N-S). The rounded chancel arch (Wth 2.17m) has decorated pilasters of a late 12th or early 13th century date (O’Neill 2002, 8-9), and there are two decorated corbels over the arch on the nave side to support a rood loft. Other architectural features in the nave may have been inserted. The base of a doorway (Wth 1.1m) is towards the W end of the S nave wall with a cusped ogee-headed window to the W. The W gable has a similar window with the stumps of a double belfry overhead. A window towards the E end of the S wall is destroyed, and the features of the N wall are unknown as it is reduced to the foundations.
The chancel may have had a doorway at the W end of the S wall and twin lancets in the E wall (Crawford 1921, 126), but the surviving remains cannot confirm this. There is a single lancet and an aumbry at ground level on the N wall and a surviving lancet and piscina at the E end of the S wall. The piscina (Wth 0.35m; H 0.47m; D 0.5m) is pointed with chamfered edges, and much of the dressed stone in the chancel is old red sandstone. The E window is destroyed but it was in a large rectangular embrasure and may have had a number of ogee-headed lights of 15th century date.
The bottom part of the basin of a sandstone font (dims 0.55m x 0.48m; H 0.26m) with the barely visible outline of the basin (diam. 0.4m) and a central drain-hole (diam. 4cm) is in the chancel. A small bullaun stone (dims 0.56m x 0.38m; H 0.27m) with a damaged basin (diam. 0.21m; D 0.1m) is in the nave.
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: 8 January 2015
Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.