A chapel at Balmaclythan, recorded in the cartularies or charters of the Llanthony Secunda priory of St Michael in Duleek (ME027-038011-) which is dated 1381, is now Macetown parish (Brooks 1953, 145). The chapel is listed in the taxation (1302-06) of Pope Nicholas IV (Cal. doc. Ire. 5, 252). Ussher (1622) describes the church and chancel of Macestown as repaired (Erlington 1847-64, 1, lxvii). Dopping (1682-5) records it as a chapel-of-ease to St. Kenan’s of Duleek (ME027-038003-) that had been out of repair since 1641, but the graveyard was well fenced (Ellison 1971, 37). In the late 16th century Sir Christopher Cheevers of Ballyhealy castle, Co. Wexford (WX052-022----), who is said to have died in 1591 (Moore 1975, 4), married Anna Plunkett and acquired the estate of Macetown (Jeffrey 1979, 53). According to the Civil Survey (1654-6) Christopher Cheevers owned 290 acres at Masetown and 140 acres at Painestown in 1641, and Macetown was recognised as a parish (Simington 1940, 56). Cogan (1862-70, 1, 276-7) is of the view that the church was dedicated to St. Nicholas. Lewis (1837, 2, 326) describes the church as a chapel that was united with Kilmessan.
This parish church is situated on a level landscape with a small W-E valley c. 100m to the N. It is within a neglected and overgrown subrectangular graveyard (dims c. 40m NE-SW; c. 32m NW-SE at NE to c. 40m NW-SE at SW) defined by masonry walls. This is an undivided nave and chancel church (int. dims 17.2m E-W; 5.2m N-S) of which only the overgrown E and W walls survive nearly complete. The E wall has a large pointed window embrasure, from which all the cut stone is removed, but a drawing by Grose in the late 18th century (Ó Neill 2002, fig. 52) shows that it had two elliptical-headed lights in its tracery. There was a highly ornate pointed doorway with a plaque over it towards the W end of the S wall that no longer survives, but the double belfry in the illustration is now obscured with ivy.
One piece of a window surround (H 0.5m) with two hollow chamfers is re-used as a grave-marker, but the mantel of a fireplace that bore the crests of Cheever and Plunkett and which was in the graveyard (Du Noyer 1893; 1898-1900) is no longer present. It was decorated with vine-leaves and bore the Cheever motto: EN. DIEV. MA. FIAVNC (In God my trust) together with: CHRISTOFOR CHEVER. (A)RMIG. ET. DAME ANE PLVNKET. Macetown castle (ME032-042----), from which the mantel probably originated, is c. 50m to the NW and the deserted settlement (ME032-041----) is in the valley c. 100m to the N.
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: 28 January 2015Description Source: Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage