Situated on a level landscape on the N bank of the River Boyne, with a NW-SE section of the stream c. 500m to the SW. It was just outside the walls of Trim on the N side. A full record has been made (Potterton 2005, 318-31), of which this is a summary. The Dominican friary, dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was founded in 1263 by Geoffrey de Geneville, who became a friar there in 1308 and was buried there in 1314 (Gwynn and Hadcock 1970, 230). The Hussey family of Galtrim were generous benefactors and were frequently interred here but were not the founders. A synod of the Irish church was held there in 1291 (Cogan 1862-70, 1, 305-6), and Dominican chapters were held there in 1285, 1300 and 1315 (Conwell 1872-3, 388-90). Parliament even met here in 1446 and 1491 (Hennessy 2004, 10). In 1484 a legal case involving 70 acres adjoining the friary that had been granted by Richard, Duke of York, was settled to the friars' satisfaction (Potterton 2005, 323-4). The friary was than in decline and being dismantled even before the Suppression. An extent of 1540 suggests that the church, cloister, hall, kitchen, garden, the cemetery and an orchard, covering 4 acres in total, were already dilapidated or dismantled. The only land remaining were a close of 3 acres, 63 acres in the commonage of Trim, and 6 acres at Tyllaughard (Tullyard) (White 1943, 308-09). The land was acquired by Sir Thomas Cussack of Cushinstown and Lismullin, who was accumulating other monastic estates in Meath. The Dominicans remained in the vicinity of Trim and early in the 18th century they leased a farm at Donor (ME041-007----) where they continued a community life (Cogan 1862-70, 1, 307-10). (Fenning 1962)
Something of the walls survived down to c. 1760, but Cooper in 1795 could see only a few heaps of stone (Price 1942, 99). An undeveloped green area of c. 5 acres (c. 2 ha) within the expanding town of Trim has some earthworks, including a double bank and intervening ditch forming the E and N sides of square, probably enclosing the precinct, while smaller rectangular earthworks with masonry fragments mark the site of the buildings. Archaeological testing (E2389) at the W edge recovered burials and a well (Seaver 2011). Archaeological testing (E4127) beginning in 2010 as part of a training program and guided by a resistivity survey identified the N wall of the church with ancillary walls (H 0.75-1.5m), but the associated deposits related largely to the destruction phases of the friary (O’Carroll 2013).
The annual, community-based excavation seasons have revealed much of the S range where the church is located, as well as the E range and the cloister N of the church (Mandal et al. 2015). The medieval cemetery has been identified where burial continued in the post-abandonment period, especially for marginalised members of society, including infants. To date 93 burials have been recorded. The agricultural use of the land outside the precinct has also been investigated prior to its re-use as a community garden.
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: 20 March 2015Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.