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Located on a rise in a fairly level landscape. The parish church of Kilcarn is within a rectangular graveyard (dims c. 55m E-W; c. 50m N-S) defined by earthen banks and trees, except on the N where the perimeter has been removed and the graveyard extended (dims c. 75m N-S; c. 55m E-W). A church at Kilbarn is listed in the ecclesiastical taxation (1302-06) of Pope Nicholas IV (Cal. doc. Ire. 5, 256). Ussher (1622) describes the church of Kilcearne as a chapel-of-ease to Skreen and in reasonably good repair (Erlington 1847-64, 1, lxxvii). According to Dopping (1682-5) the church and chancel were unrepaired since 1641, it was not enclosed, and it had been united with Skreen since 1677 (Ellison 1972, 6).
The church is an undivided nave and chancel structure (int. dims 19.9m E-W; 5.65m N-S) that survives with its walls almost complete (H c. 3m), but few architectural features are intact. The W wall is obscured by ivy but has a large rectangular window beneath a belfry. There are opposing doorways towards the W end of the N and S walls but no dressed stonework survives. A small pointed lancet (Wth 0.14; H 0.85m) in the S wall W of the doorway survives, but a window embrasure towards the E end of the S wall and the only window embrasure in the N wall are robbed. There is a large opening in the E wall but no indication of the type of window. The head of a two-light cusped ogee-headed window (L 0.87m) is in the church.
The graveslab of Humphry Barry (L 1.9m; Wth 1.05m) with a crest that occupies most of the stone is in the chancel. The date is not recorded (FitzGerald 1908, 611; 1912) but is probably 17th century, and the legend is now completely illegible. The decorated font (Roe 1968, 65-6) from this church, which was dedicated to St Stephen, was moved to the Roman Catholic church at Johnstown (ME025-041----) c. 900m to the NNW after the font had been displayed at the Dublin Exhibition of 1853 (Cogan 1862-70, 2, 239-40). In the graveyard is a slab (Wth 0.2-0.3m; H 0.67m) with a raised latin cross (H 0.32m; Span 0.23m) on one face. The stem is 4-5cm wide.
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: 9 January, 2014
Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.