Situated on a knoll on a gentle SE-facing slope, with a S-N section of the Delvin River c. 50m to the E. A church at Staghmolyn is listed in the ecclesiastical taxation (1302-04) of Pope Nicholas IV (Cal. doc. Ire., 5, 253). Ussher (1622) describes the church as ruinous and the chancel as indifferently repaired (Erlington 1847-64, 1, lxiv). According to the Dopping visitation (1682-5) the church of St Patrick was unrepaired since 1641 and the graveyard was not enclosed (Ellison 1971, 35). The chantry chapel dedicated to St. Christopher (Cogan 1862-70, 2, 252-3) was added after 1458 by Sir Robert Preston (O’Neill 2002, 28), who was the third Baron Gormanston and became the first Viscount in 1478. The parish church is of Stamullin, which survives almost complete (H of walls c. 4m), is situated within a D-shaped graveyard (dims c. 56m E-W; c. 51m N-S) defined by masonry walls, with straight sides at E and S.
This is a divided nave (ext. dims 22.4m E-W; 9.55m N-S; int. dims 18.65m E-W; 7.83m N-S) and chancel (ext. dims 11.3m E-W; 7.7m N-S; int. dims 11.3m E-W; 4.67m N-S) which is roughly aligned E-W. Opposing pointed doorways of limestone in the S (Wth 1.25m; H 2.28m) and N (Wth 1.21m; H 2.28m) walls with external hollow chamfers are located towards the W end of the nave and are probably inserted. The window surrounds with glazing grooves and bar-holes are in sandstone. There is a double-light window W of the S doorway and two windows E of it, but only the most easterly has its double, cusped ogee-head surviving. The only windows in the N wall are two destroyed ones in the NE angle of the nave, one higher than the other, which suggests the presence of a rood screen. The window of the W gable has been removed and the embrasure is blocked. Only the stumps of its secondary belfry, described as triple (Cogan 1862-70, 2, 252), survive.
There is no chancel arch, and of three embrasures in the N chancel wall a trefoil window (Wth 0.45m; H 1.35m) survives complete only in the central one. Tracery is removed from the pointed E window (Wth 1.65m) but it probably had two lights in its upper portion. Two inserted arches (Wth 3.92m) supported by an octagonal pier at the centre (dim. 0.8m) occupy the S wall. These are now blocked and secondary but communicated originally with the chantry chapel (ext. dims 12.45m E-W; c. 6.3m N-S; int. dims 10.45m E-W; 4.85m N-S) that was added c. 1460 and was to be staffed by two chaplains, one clerk and four altar boys (Moynes 2003, 41).
The chapel has a single robbed and blocked window in a wide embrasure (Wth 3.25m) in the E wall that had a pointed gable, although it does not survive. There is a statue shelf (Wth 0.46m; D 0.24m; max. T 0.22m) just S of the E window, and there is a round-headed piscina (Wth 0.26m; H 0.32m; D 0.34m) with an ornate basin at the E end of the S wall. There are three complete robbed and blocked embrasures in the S wall (H c. 4m), which probably held rectangular windows. A highly decorated pointed doorway (Wth 0.6m; H 1.7m) with cable moulding and faces set upside down as stops is at the S end of the W wall. The chapel is kept locked, but access can be arranged through Brendan Mathews (tel. (01) 8413033) at 48 hours notice.
The chapel has an effigy (dims 2.3m x 1.17m) of a cadaver (Roe 1969, 17-18), and a mid- 16th century double effigy tomb (dims 1.92m x 1.17m; T 0.13m; H 0.5m) on sides that are largely buried (Hunt 1974, 1, 215). Archaeological testing (95E0143) c. 10m S of the graveyard produced evidence of a house floor cut into the subsoil with an occupation layer, which was cut by a pit, and a hearth. Medieval pottery post-dated this house. The same excavation cut part of a ditch or fosse (Wth c. 2m; D c. 0.5m) c. 40m S of the graveyard, which was interpreted as part of a fosse or ditch enclosing the church site and perhaps pre-dating the medieval remains (Swan 1996a; 1996b). Archaeological testing (05E0277) by A. O’Connell c. 50-120m SE-S of the graveyard produced no related material (excavatioins.ie 2005:1245). Further testing (06E0914) by M. Seaver c. 130m NE of the graveyard at the nearest point had a similar result (excavatioins.ie 2006:1642).
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.
See the attached images of the cadaver (002), the couple (005), the double arcade in the chancel (048) and the doorway to the chapel (052).
Compiled by: Michael Moore
Date of revision: 16 February 2015
Amended: 29 January 2021
Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.